Image goes for a ride

I always wear jeans and sneaks when I fly. To me, comfort trumps appearance, especially in today's unfriendly skies.

September 23 - business_travel

It wasn't too long ago, though, that the very thought of dressing in jeans and sneaks on a business trip was verboten. My CEO at JWT always dressed in business formal wear, even when we were traveling on a Sunday. 'You never know who you might meet,' he admonished me, after spying my open neck polo.

On another occasion in the late 1980s, I sported jeans, cowboy boots and an unshaven face on a Sunday night flight to a client off-site. I figured I'd be flying alone, so why worry. Ah, but my client was also on the flight. We shook hands after landing, and then he offered me a piece of advice. 'There's casual and then there's casual. You represent your firm wherever you go. How do you think your CEO would feel if he saw you looking like this?' Duly noted.

That was many moons ago, of course. Today, there is no dress code for business travel. In fact, any code of airline comportment has been blown to smithereens. Nowadays, the typical fellow traveler is a morbidly-obese man dressed in a track suit, flip-flops and carrying two Double Whoppers with cheese on board. In fact, spying a passenger in suit-and-tie is akin to a sighting of Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman.

I knew the times had truly changed when I recently spied the always erudite, always neatly coiffed Bill Heyman in a pair of jeans at O'Hare. If the Bill Blass of PR search consultants is ok with jeans and sneaks at the airport, then it's ok with me as well. I just hope Mr. Heyman doesn't lapse into the track suit and Whopper mode any time soon. If he does, then we will have truly reached the end of days.

7 thoughts on “Image goes for a ride

  1. For my first job at Data General, I flew in full suit, hose and shoes. And I never ran into anyone who knew me. Now I travel comfortably. Running around Scottsdale, however, I do dress up because I usually run into SOMEONE I know….planes, not so much.

  2. When I travel for business, I feel as though I’m on the clock, so I dress for it as if I’m going to work. For me, that means khakis, a polo and loafers. Even for international business flights that is how I would dress. For me it was less of a concern about who I would encounter and more a “I’m working” attitude. I’ve traveled with colleagues who took the more comfortable approach without any ramifications, but for me I’ve always felt that if the company is footing the bill then it’s company time and I should dress like I’m going to work.

  3. Unfortunately, some people believe “casual” equals “sloppy.” There is nothing wrong with dressing casually (and comfortably) on a flight in unripped, pressed jeans and a clean, crisp shirt when traveling to a business destination. Flip-flops should be banned everywhere except the beach because they are not only sloppy-looking, they are downright unsanitary on city streets.

  4. Haha, this is great. As his staff we sometimes poke fun at Bill and his 100% dress up mode. Good thing he didn’t have his sweats on…

  5. life’s too short to care. wear the jeans and sneaks I say. and lay off the flip flops…if you were going to the Bahamas, you would wear flips-flops over shitkickers, right?