The sad disappearance of the elegantly dressed traveler

Dress Smart on the Airplane – Bettmann Archive / Getty

It’s hard to imagine David Niven in an animal onesie. On the other hand, it is not even easy to imagine him performing ‘sideboob’: his was a generation for which the expression ‘wardrobe malfunction’ meant that his travel trunk had opened in mid-flight and the flying with the bow tie ran the risk of overturning the velvety swan and Bollinger canapé on the collection of silk ties inside.

But times change, habits change, people change, usually, these days, in animal suits. Travel, once the most glamorous and saucy thing you could do without an invitation from Jacob Rees-Mogg, is now the most shabby and disheveled thing you can do without an invitation from Rab C. Nesbitt. Anyone leaving this week for a mid-term vacation, pay attention.

The onesie, in fact, are not even the worst. Between bikinis and baseball caps, economy-class booths now resemble the day of wearing whatever you want at the worst school in town. They are hoodies and jogging pants on the way out, vests and flip-flops on the way back (don’t they realize it’s -5 ° C in Gatwick?), And the only “disguise” that occurs is that of farewell groups to celibacy (there is always one who seems to embrace the theme of drag a little too much, right?).

It’s no better in the front of the bus, mind you, where fashion icons like Naomi Campbell now dress up for first class in fireproof suits. (Then again, we laughed at her when she wore face masks aboard her in 2019, and see how she turned out.)

Point the finger

It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly when the trip got so scruffy, but there was certainly some time between Howard Carter digging into the hot and scorching Valley of the Kings in a three-piece tweed suit in 1922, and the flight Boeing “democratizing it” (i.e., chopping it up beyond ransom) by stuffing 500 souls into a 747 in 1970. if I don’t know how they get the blood out of those Marcella collars.)

Annoyed man in suit on airplane between young adults - Getty

Annoyed man in suit on airplane between young adults – Getty

As always, however, the budget guys have a lot to answer for: when Stelios Haji-Ioannou launched easyJet in 1995, he announced that flying was “now as affordable as a pair of jeans”; how different things would have been today if he had said “like a stylish and attractive pair of leisure trousers”.

And it was Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, of course, who taught us how to wear luggage in an effort to avoid extra costs: on short-haul flights now, you regularly see – and, oh God, smell – passengers wearing six layers and a vast voluminous coat with more pockets than a pool table. (It’s only a matter of time, of course, before someone starts selling jackets with a wheeled case stitched on the back.)

A vicious circle

You see, airlines and airports have so effectively wiped out all the glamor from travel, that we would look ridiculous trying to add something of our own. It’s a vicious circle: if no one else is dressing up, why should we? Put simply, where once your travel companion might be Celia Johnson, perfect in a felt hat to catch the Milford Junction train in Brief Encounter, Boris Johnson is now more likely to be, with a hangover. and the appearance of a haystack in a suit hired for a court appearance, returning from an alcoholic party in Italy.

Kelly, who has just started her 25th year as a cabin crew, doesn’t want to give her full name or that of her airline, but she explains it like this: “When I’m dressed head-to-toe in my red uniform. market [oops – bit of a giveaway]i can understand perfectly why my passengers don’t want to waste their efforts to look better.

But he also has a tip. “There is no free upgrade, no matter how many times people ask me, or what stupid version of ‘upgradeable’ clothes they think they’re wearing. But when I fly, I wear the best clothes I wear on that trip. Get dressed to travel and it’s like you’re in your own little business class bubble and nothing can touch you.

David and Celia would approve.

Five places where you can still experience a smart holiday

Do you still want to refresh yourself well during the holidays? You can in these latter bastions to dress better. Don’t forget the dickie-bow.

In a cruise

Those wishing to dress up for dinner can certainly still do so at sea, where shirts are ironed, suits worn, cuffs tied, and Zimmer frames polished each evening in preparation for full silver service by extravagant and wielding waiters. cloche. Choose your cruise wisely, however: many have reduced (or removed altogether) their formal wear features and you’ll look silly in black tie on the zipline / climbing wall / surf simulators that replaced them. Cunard is the best solution.

Elegant couple embracing in the cabin of the cruise ship - Getty

Elegant couple embracing in the cabin of the cruise ship – Getty

On safari

The dress code for the day is quite strict: think khaki is paired with khaki and plenty of pockets on your bush jacket (once a requirement for all your ammo; now needed for long lenses and multiple memory cards). But at sunset – and, more importantly, sundowners – you’ll find that “smart” and “safari” go together like “gin” and “tonic” and “I guess another one wouldn’t hurt, thank you”. Scruffpots needn’t worry, though – there are sheets all over the pitch at the camp, so you can get away with dusty and crumpled. Just call it a homage to Hemingway.

In a country hotel

Cruise, safari, countryside … basically, the rule is: if Agatha Christie puts a book there, you dress up for it. It might be homicide at first, itchy underneath everything combed, but you’ll be thankful when the drafts (and, of course, ghosts) start turning down the temperature. And, from the Cotswolds to the Cairngorms, there’s nothing colder than the look of a Jeeves-like general manager if a gentleman were to dare try to take his sherry in shirt sleeves (or a lady does it under a pearl).

In a “luxury” American resort.

A certain type of American institution still sees the words “jacket request” as the height of sophistication. (Which is especially odd considering jackets are almost always old moth-worn “sports coats” worn with expensive but ugly chinos, polo shirts, and loafers in the wrong color.) However, if you want excellent steak, a guy who’ll your car for you and to be called Sir or Ma’am throughout your stay, you will wear it.

In a load of other places so inherently tacky that they need to overcompensate by making you dress “smart”

See: British provincial nightclubs, Las Vegas casino “VIP” lounges, Middle Eastern golf clubs … and the House of Commons.

Do you think it is important to dress elegantly in flight? Do you miss the golden age of flight? Please share your thoughts in the comments below

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