Imagine the look on my face when I saw this recent article in the Wall Street Journal. I could have written this myself. No joke.
Whether for business travel or for pleasure, whether by train or by plane, I am routinely flabbergasted at how – and why – many people dress so ultra casually. (But not all people, I am also routinely impressed with how nicely some dress!) As one who travels often in both circumstances I would like to share my perspective. If there are any of you out there in the ‘casual camp’, perhaps you will give this further thought…
Let’s start with two basic truths:
1 – What you wear affects how people perceive you. No ifs, ands or buts. Especially when people don’t know you, people that you are interacting with for the very first time. What you wear is essentially your ‘book cover’. It sends a message to the world about who you are. It is your personal image that you alone control and choose daily, whether you are traveling or not. Are you with me???
2 – You never know who you will encounter when you are out in public. Let your mind consider all the options and possibilities…Your ex…a colleague…an old friend…an old enemy, haha…someone who could help with your future career…would you be happy to say hello if you were in gym clothes?
OK, now two Candy Costas truths:
1 – Dressing nicely should never be uncomfortable. NEVER! If you are uncomfortable when you look presentable, then either you are buying the wrong size or you are buying the wrong clothes altogether.
2 – Pajamas are for bed, gym clothes (and athletic sneakers) are for the gym , and flip flops are for the beach.If any of these are part of your travel wardrobe, it is only due to a lack of effort or a lack of caring. It is really not that difficult to look presentable and be comfortable too.
Still reading? Good. Here are a few tips for traveling in style:
- For ladies traveling for business, shoe choice is probably the most important part of your outfit and trickiest to get right. High heeled pumps are generally not a good choice – when you travel you need to be prepared to walk long distances, but that does not necessarily mean flats and definitely not sneakers. There are plenty of shoes with a 1-2 inch heel that are ‘walking friendly’ – you just need to take the time to really explore different brands and determine which work best for your feet. Stuart Weitzman brand has many comfortable options, and for a lower price point, try Ann Taylor shoes. Remember that whether or not you wear tights/stockings can greatly affect shoe comfort. (I am more comfortable without tights with certain shoes.) And suede shoes are often softer and more comfortable than leather.
- How about shoe choice when heading on ‘vaca’? There are so many fun options, including sneakers – just not your gym sneakers! What’s the difference, you say? Huge. One says ‘smart and stylish’, the other says ‘dull and dowdy’. Fashion sneakers – for men as well as women – can make or break an outfit. Some of my favorites: Vince slip-on sneakers, and JSlides. Comfy and chic all in one.
- Certain clothes are more conducive to travel – they wrinkle less and the fabric has some stretch. With all the lycra and synthetic blend fabrics being used in garments today, it’s easy to find dresses, blazers, trousers, and tops that you will be comfortable in and also look fresh when you arrive at your destination. JMclaughlin brand is a perfect example – they make separates and dresses perfect for travel – business or pleasure.
- Always have a scarf handy in your carry-on. It’s chic and practical at the same time. Choose one that is soft and substantial enough to cuddle with and keep you warm; Ginger always traveled with an oversized hot pink scarf. My personal favorite of late has been an oversized leopard scarf that can double as a blanket in a hotel room. Scarves are a must!
This internet photo from almost 50 years ago really shows how the travel culture has changed. By their style of dress, it’s hard to tell who’s traveling for work or vacation!
Today’s traveler has so many choices , whether dressing for business or for a weekend away. There are styles for every age, every body type, every budget. Wanting to be comfortable should NEVER be an excuse for not looking your best. All. The. Time.
To show respect for yourself and others, to create a positive impression to the world around you, and to be ‘ready’ for whoever you may encounter in your journey, there should be a limit to how ‘casual’ you go in public places.