Not too long ago, I read an article (blog post? Are they one in the same, now?) where the author extolled the virtues of dressing up for air travel, up-to-and-including wearing four-inch heels. "They make you look more polished, and boost your chances of getting bumped to first class," she said. "Besides, you can always kick your heels off when you're on the plane."
Mmhmm, I thought to myself. And what about those three miles you have to walk (run) through the airport before you get on the plane, and after you get off? No, thank you, and I moved my cursor over the little red "x" at the top of my computer screen.
You may recall that my style philosophy is "Urban Pajamas" -- if it's comfortable enough to sleep in, and appropriate enough to be seen in public, I wear it. And never does this philosophy come more into play than when I'm traveling. After all, airline travel is just an uncomfortable experience all-round -- why make it more unpleasant with fancy clothing (to say nothing of the four-inch heels)? Nope, I'm all about ease when I travel -- and with our Thanksgiving trip back home to Marcus' family, which involves not only a 10-hour overnight flight from Houston to London, but also a 5-hour car ride once we land, I knew that if there was ever a time I was going to stick with my style philosophy, this trip was it.
And yet, the idea of taking a little bit more effort when traveling sort of nagged at me. Back when I was a kid, air travel was enough of a novelty that my family always dressed up for a flight. And, in fact, there is something romantic about dressing to the nines to voyage to some far-away place. Also, I did promise that I was going to try to pay more attention to what I wear, right? Besides, this trip to England was specifically to see my in-laws -- and come on, when you're traveling to visit in-laws, it becomes especially important to look fresh and joyful the moment they lay eyes on you. You want them to think to themselves, goodness, she looks happy. Clearly it's because she basks in the awesomeness that is our son/brother/uncle/nephew.
And then, maybe ...
... Come, they'll say, let us hold hands and dance in a circle around our son/brother/uncle/nephew and his beloved, while our young skip among us, showering us all with flower petals ...
... anyway. I digress.
The upshot is that I decided that even though I was determined to be comfortable on this flight, it was really an opportunity to do what I talked about: add a little forethought into what I wear, specifically by injecting a bit of colour into my wardrobe. I needed a new cardigan, anyway (the black one I normally wear is one I bought when I was a junior in college, and to say it's ancient would be ... well, rude, but also true). So I contacted my friend and fellow countrywoman, Patrice (aka Afrobella). Patrice is a straight-up fashionista who never met a colour she didn't like, so I knew she'd be up to the task. I explained to her my predicament via instant message.
"So I need to know where I should buy a bright-coloured cardigan," I said. "Do you have any favourite online stores?"
"Well," she said, thinking. "I mean, I see you in a turquoise. Or a crimson. Or ... I know! Leopard print."
I clutched my pearls.*
"Leopard print?" I typed back weakly. "I don't think I can do leopard print..."
"Oh, leopard print is TOTALLY a neutral," responded Patrice cheerily. "You could ..."
"Patrice, assume for a moment that I'm not ready for leopard print," I interrupted. "Where can I find a good, bright-coloured cardigan?"
She went away for a moment, and returned with a link to this cardigan.
"Huh ..." I said slowly, looking closely at the image. "I mean, I think I like it ... but it's not exactly brightly coloured ..."
"It's perfect," she gushed. "I so see you in this. And you never wear patterns."
(She's right -- I rarely wear patterns. Patterns make me nervous.)
"Get it," she continued, "and wear something brightly-coloured under it. Trust me."
It was on sale, so I trusted her, and I ordered it. And when it arrived, I saw immediately that she was right. This cardigan is soft, and fuzzy, and feels like I'm wearing a baby blanket (and if that doesn't go with my whole Urban Pajamas ethos, well, I don't know what does). Also, as luck would have it, I found a bright coral t-shirt dress in the back of my closet that I'd bought myself from Target a year ago and never wore, so with that and a pair of leggings, I was ready to go (sleep on the flight). The final outfit is shown above.
(And even though this isn't particularly shockingly colourful, with the patterned cardigan, it stills feels like a bit of a style stretch for me. But one that's fun. Like silly toffee. Or bubble gum. Or a good yoga class.)
* I don't actually wear pearls. But if I did, I would have been clutching them.
Also, because I think what's in my carry-on is way more important than what I'm wearing, here are the things I never get on an airplane without: