Ask the Rakish Man: Plane Travel

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Rakish Man. My name is Léon Philippe and I am here with all the right responses to your sartorial queries. I’ve poured my first glass of Grand Marnier, so let’s get started.

Dear Léon,

The recent hullabaloo over airline dress codes made me reconsider my own mile high outfits. I’m usually more of a jeans and polo guy, which has never gotten me kicked off a flight, but maybe I should be trying harder? What do you suggest that men wear on planes?

-Jetlagged in Jackson

First of all, to quote one of my mentors, “there is no try - only do.” The great masters of style make elegance look effortless because to them it is truly no burden. Being a man of grace lightens life’s load. I am unfamiliar with the travails of the “jeans and polo guy,” but doubt if these unpadded shoulders could carry such a burden.

Back to your query. It is truly a sad state of affairs that the only decently dressed people on a aeroplane these days are the flight attendants. But I suppose this is not unique to planes. The only people wearing black ties at fancy restaurants are the waiters. The only people wearing coat and tie at fundraisers are the politicians. Sick trends it gloria, as the saying goes.

Fighting this trend requires imagination and courage. And no half-measures. You may be tempted, Jetlagged, to swap your polo for a button-down shirt or your jeans for some khakis, just to acquire a thin Vermeer of respectability. Based on my observations during recent travels, the denizens of business class indeed seem to be overly enameled with this look.

But you must resist this temptation. It is true that the plane is not quite the office and therefore does not require professional dress. The opportunity then is not unprofessional dress, or slovenly dress, but joyful dress. Lift off with your paisley ties! Upward with your cashmere waistcoats! Aloft with your striped regatta blazers!

Here’s my test, Jetlagged: If your plane crashed to the ground in a grisly fireball of death and destruction, what’s the one outfit that would be on your mind in those final seconds before your untimely death? What would you be regretting not having worn one last time, as you crouch into a protective ball to prepare for the impact which you will surely not survive? That’s what you should wear on the plane.

By the by, if you are a frequent traveler and have some rewards miles going spare, I wouldn’t reject an offer to transfer a few to me in exchange for the winning advice given above. American Airlines has a really quite handsome neckerchief I’m trying to save up for.


Ed. note: If you have a query for The Rakish Man, please send an email to david at nomanwalksalone  dot com and I will make sure he sees it.  

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