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On the Road, What Not to Wear

When a passenger on Southwest Airlines was asked to deplane for wearing clothes a flight attendant deemed inappropriate, it got me thinking. Well actually, first it got me curious. What could this woman have been wearing that prompted her to be asked to leave a flight? I’ve seen some serious fashion faux pas in my travels – from people who refuse to travel in anything other than their pajamas (this includes my own brother by the way) to passengers wearing clothing that seems better suited to a poorly lit street corner than an airplane in broad daylight.

Kyla Ebbert was wearing a miniskirt, high heels, a tank top, and a sweater (See her in the same outfit she wore on the flight and hear her account of the story on MSNBC.com). Not my attire of choice for a flight (or any other time for that matter), but hardly offensive in an age where bellies and behinds are hanging out all over the place.

So what is appropriate attire for a flight? And does an airline (or in this case, flight attendant) have a right to make that decision? A provocatively dressed woman isn’t offensive to me and would have no impact on my flying experience. But what if another passenger was wearing a t-shirt with a racist or sexist saying on it? That would bother me – a lot. Still, I’m not sure it’s up to the airline to intervene.

The issue of appropriate dress is a good platform to discuss a larger issue: the fact that we live in a society that has become infinitely more causal in both dress and behavior in recent years. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece in late July about the difficulty hotels are experiencing getting guests to take off their bathrobes and put on regular clothes – even in the dining room and bar. What baffles me is that there are a significant number of people who think it is acceptable to appear in a public place in nothing but what amounts to a large towel.

Is it OK to wear your pajamas on a plane? Is it ok to go to the hotel bar in your bathrobe? You know what I think (sorry bro – I say no way) but what about you? Oh – and what do you think of Kyla’s outfit?

genevieve_brown

My name: Genevieve Shaw Brown. I also answer to Genny and Gen.

How I earn my keep: I work at Travelocity.

Greatest travel lesson learned: I travel for my job, but I've learned work is work, vacation is vacation, and it's best not to try and do both on one trip.

Fondest travel memory: There are so many... but a recent experience was being totally jet-lagged and waking up pre-dawn in Koh Samui, Thailand, and watching the sun rise with my husband on the beach. We talked about what all our friends and family were doing at that very same moment as the sun set back home in New York.

First thing I do in a new place: Peruse the local restaurants and map out my dining strategy for the duration of my trip. Dining strategy = eating at as many restaurants as humanly possible.

First thing I do when I get home: Put a push pin on the destination I just returned from on the map of the world that hangs on the wall above my couch.

Travel ambition: To cover that map completely in push pins.

My most beloved place in the whole world: Cockle Cove Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.

Comments

Bound4Europe
Reply

The outfit Miss Kyla wore on her flight was a little on the skimpy side, and not something I would choose to wear, but it was by no means offensive! I’m sure some overly jealous, large woman, whose husband was likely gawking, complained about the oufit. I know I’m sure envious of the legs on that girl!

To an extent, the airline does have the right to dictate and enforce dress code. Of course, a t-shirt with a racial slur would be grounds for enforcement of such a dress code, but, as sloppy as he may look, your bro does have the right to wear his batman pj’s with the feet on the plane.

Bill
Reply

Watch the video of her appearance on the Today Show again. Her skirt IS too short because she flashes the camera when she sits down.

Genevieve
Reply

I must admit I *thought* there was a flash when she sat down. But hard to say for sure — and Southwest hasn’t said this was a reason for asking her to get off the flight.

Ryan
Reply

I think that any airline has the right to refuse business to a customer for a valid reason. Although dress choice is not a valid reason. I think that is not the right of any business to deem a style of dress inappropriate. If security lets them in- shouldn’t it end there? What would be next- banning tank tops and cutoff jeans? Because those are both offensive to me…

Karl
Reply

I’ll admit that I can imagine a time not too long ago when I may have found Kyla’s appearance titillating. Today, what it really amounts to is a cheap thrill. As a grown man of forty-six, I have seen no shortages of beautiful woman, and Kyla certainly qualifies. I don’t think the ensemble she was wearing was entirely the heart of the matter. I suspect that her body language, carriage and demeanor also came into play. It’s what she wore yes, but it’s also how she wore it. The latter is unknown to us.

I don’t believe Southwest meant any malice in their action, even if they realize it may be unpopular, their actions were in the interest of the greater majority. I would say they do have the right to do what they did. On top of that, she complied with their request. While not admitting guilt, it does take considerable wind from the sails her attorney no doubt was counting on. And his comment about if it had been Paris Hilton, et al, was completely groundless.

But there seems to be a Kyla on every flight these days. As one who remembers when people dressed to travel (or at least made the effort to leave their flip-flops and Tees for later) I don’t pay much attention to them anymore.

Clarence Carrier
Reply

She DID flash her underwear when she sat down. No question!!I believe she was dressed unappropriately for a CASUAL plane ride. Where has modesty gone. It is good to see that some people has enough morals to ask/tell her to go get dressed and you can fly with our airlines. Someone needs to get enough nerve to tell them without fear of suit. What has the “times” have to do with morals? She is not 3 years old!!

Anne
Reply

I have to say when I was watching the “Today Show” interview I had the thought that the young lady might have pulled everything together to ‘look’ more proper. Let’s be honest people – the way the American public dresses today is awful ~ clothes are either too short, hanging off the bottom, bellies showing, underwear (boys and girls) showing ~ I don’t want to see your thong! Need I go on? Sure we all want to be ‘comfortable’ but we should also be presentable when we go out in public and showing too much of what Mother Nature gave us isn’t necessarily the way to do that. Leave the play clothes for play, p.j.’s and fluffly slippers for the bedroom and please lets get back to being a more presentable society. Back to the young lady, sure she was young and cute, but I would guess her skirt wasn’t even 12″ long. I bet you can tell I am a BIG advocate for dress codes in all walks of life and believe there is a time and place for everything so please people, lets start having a little consideration for others and lets get back to being ladies and gentlmen. Thanks for letting me have my say.

Cam
Reply

This is a tricky one. I don’t think an airline has the right to deem a person’s attire appropriate or not, or make any other kind of judgment that is entirely subjective and, as you say, Genevieve, doesn’t affect others’ flight experiences. I’m much more bothered by the characters detailed so colorfully in Alison’s post of about a month ago (Speak Out: Who’s the Worst Plane Passenger?). And really, with hardly enough room to accommodate the average person’s knees between each row, I doubt that flashing someone would even be a danger.

Genevieve
Reply

The flash has been confirmed!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20747424/

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