Q&A — Should I dress up for the plane?


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Style meets comfort.

In this month’s Traveler Magazine’s Editor’s Letter, Pilar Guzman writes about her sense of duty to dress for the plane, envying “the dame of another era, boarding a flight in a shift dress, carrying only a small structured handbag and a book” before concluding that in today’s age, a pair of fashion sneakers, a fitted trouser or jean, and a button-down shirt — for ladies and gents — is the go-to uniform that hits that clean and casual sweet spot.

For those of us flying economy class, the image best conjured of an in-flight uniform, might be a pair of comfy sweatpants or leggings and a long-sleeved top with a scarf that doubles as a blanket when the temperature drops in the cabin (and of course, a pair of socks!). Dressing up — especially when travelling with children — seems counterproductive: taking a flight is but a vexatious prelude to our destination — that’s when our sartorial senses are peaked and flaunted.

Even the flight attendant, who’s uniform and overall appearance could once rival that of a beauty queen, doesn’t dress to impress in most commercial airlines (I’m thinking Air Transat and KLM). It’s only when you splurge a little more that the uniform goes hand in hand with the leg space and the flight attendants serving you don burgundy berets and matching red matte lipstick (hello Air Qatar) or unique silk uniforms donning purple, pink and blue tones with a pinned flower (Thai Airways).

In the 60’s and 70’s, uniforms were designed by renown designers and although some airlines do their best to keep their sartorial standards high — Eithad uniforms are designed by Ettore Bilotta at his atelier in Milan — chances are the cheapest your ticket, the cheaper the uniform.

Back to the question at hand: Should you dress up on a plane?

Yes and no.

If you are flying Montreal to Miami, sans toddler or cumbersome luggage, you can certainly don a pair of high-heels and even *gasp* a pencil skirt and ruffle-free shirt. You’ll look and feel great as you strut up and down the aisle, perfectly aware you are only 3 ½ hours away from a well-deserved vacation. But that immaculate outfit can be the get-up from hell if you’re flying Toronto to Tokyo, with 2 connecting flights, 2 children and an air-sick spouse. You know what I mean?

Annye Dalusma travels frequently between Port-au-Prince and Montreal, sometimes solo but often with her 7 and 11-year old in tow, and her go-to uniform is a cashmere top and pants set as well as a pair of loafers or ballerina flights. “It looks, and feels, luxurious and gives you an instant stylish vibe while being insanely cozy. It’s loose enough so I don’t feel restrained and I can nap or run or stretch without worrying about wrinkles or tears.”

So, instead of dressing up on the plane, dress up for your plane situation.

And never sacrifice comfort for style.