Fly the Fashionable Skies

by Harry Sheff

I hate to sound like a snob…well, no I don’t: My fellow apparel industry colleagues, fashionistas and garmentos, can we please start cleaning up a little for those flights to Vegas?

Let me clarify something: we work in fashion! We are supposed to care about how we, and our fellow human beings, look. Yes, it’s a long flight for those of us coming from the East Coast. I’m not asking for a return to the days when every air traveler was perfectly turned out with a hat, veil or heels (well, I can dream, can’t I?), but can we just show each other a little respect? With my apologies to our friends in activewear, lose the sweats! Or at least wear them neatly, and with some attitude.

A few seasons back, there was a perfectly coiffed and manicured woman sitting a few seats ahead of me and across the aisle, but she wore one of those stretch velour track suits. I’m sorry… I’m not going to ask you to endure me in my pajamas, why do I have to see you in yours?

This past season, a young couple was engaged in deep shop talk just outside the bathrooms with a distinguished gentleman “of a certain age.” The couple looked as though they had just rolled out of bed, wearing their college sweatshirts and, the male of the couple, in sweatpants that were about three inches too short. Each had hair to match, of course. I’m hoping the gentleman they had engaged in conversation was not their buyer or CEO. He, in contrast, was neatly attired in a button-down collar plaid shirt and jeans that probably had some stretch/no-iron qualities. Performance fibers rule.

Of course you ask, “What were you wearing, Mr. High and Mighty?” This season I was test-driving two pieces. I have an airplane rule: cashmere. It’s soft, it’s comfortable, it wicks, it breathes… perhaps the ultimate performance fabric. And I was kind of freaked out about the weather…what do you do when you’re switching from the frigid temperatures of New Jersey to the warmer climes of Las Vegas? I turned to active sportswear, wearing a new Greg Norman V-neck cashmere wind shirt, layered under the vintage Harris Tweed sportcoat and my old standby Banana Republic down vest. The vest was easily packable and “smooshable” and both vest and sportcoat were flexible for wearing later in the week. The final layer was the piece de resistance, though—an 1887’s cotton T-shirt with silver! (You gotta check out this collection. It’s very minimal, but has great colors and workmanship.) Silver has anti-microbial qualities, which I’ll let the chemists explain, but the end result was that I got off the plane feeling fresh and clean.

I’m willing to forgive the red-eye flight home. We’re all trying to get as comfortable as possible so we can catch a few winks. I figure it’s been a good flight if I wake up on the other side, and there’s no telltale sign of drool on my shirt. Of course I always have a little trouble sleeping knowing that the Macy’s buyer I want to interview, or the CEO of major menswear conglomerate X or, God forbid, another fashion editor is somewhere else on that plane.

But then, have you seen some of the excuses for suitcases rolling around those carousels? Don’t get me started!