July 18, 2007 Edition

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Do clothes make the traveler?

Linda Lou Moore
Guest Writer

When did pajamas become travel clothes?

Recently, while waiting to board a plane at the Memphis Airport, a person arrived at the boarding gate wearing pajama bottoms that were precariously hanging far below the waist and flip flops. Was this a seriously ill patient waiting for medical transport? No. It was an airline passenger. The gate attendants were not amused.

Travel has become a way of life for many. Questions often arise about how to dress. Is it "comfortable and casual" or "sloppy and slovenly?"

In a recent article in Southern Living, travel editor Morgan Murphy, states: "Being comfortable has become the excuse du jour to look sloppy." Mr. Murphy points out what many of us see. Pajamas are now being worn by the traveling public.

Alfred Borcover's article in the Chicago Tribune asks: "Do clothes make the traveler?" He wonders how we are perceived when traveling abroad wearing baggy shorts, stretched out T-shirts and sandals. "Security specialists always advise Americans traveling abroad to blend in with the locals. Wearing faux athletic department T-shirts, cargo pants, fanny packs and flip-flops in foreign capitals is like wearing a bull's eye on your back. Guess who the pickpocket and scam artists are keeping their eyes on?"

The Learning Channel's "What Not To Wear" host, Clinton Kelly stated during an interview at Northwestern University, "People treat you differently (better) if you look put together."

So, is the return of the classic steamer trunk necessary? No, not at all. You don't have to dress in an elaborate fashion for travel anymore. But, your clothing doesn't need to imply that you've just rolled out of bed either.

It's true, your travel clothing often influences how you are treated. However, it doesn't take the big bucks for the big payoff.

The clothing industries have finally figured out that clothing can be comfortable and affordable and look good.

Alfred Borcover sums up travel clothing this way: "Nobody says you have to look like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn to visit museums, cathedrals and historic neighborhoods. Clean khakis or jeans and a nice shirt and Rockports will do for men. So will capris or slacks, a blouse and comfortable walking shoes for women. It doesn't make much difference whether you shop at Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom or Target; it's not difficult to have a functional travel wardrobe, and it needn't cost a bundle to look great."

Morgan Murphy gives great clothing and security advice:

Long lines, long drives and long flights have become synonymous with travel. Make the best of traveling. Oftentimes, your best manners can get you the best service. And, getting the best service when traveling is truly a treat.

Quote of the day: "If you actually look like your passport photo, you aren't well enough to travel." ~ Sir Vivian Fuchs, English geologist and explorer

Linda Lou Moore is trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington. She offers customized individual and group etiquette programs for children, teens and adults. She may be reached at P.O. Box 145, Paragould, AR 72451 or at manners@grnco.net.

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