Who Are These Women Wearing 4-Inch Heels On An Afternoon Flight To Phoenix?

I want to look pulled together when I fly. I’ve recently accepted that I do not. When I go home for the holidays I go in style: sweat pants and Uggs with wool socks.
Publish date:
December 24, 2012
airports, heels, travel clothes

When I travel, there are two things I like to be: warm and comfortable. I'm not even talking jeans and flats. I'm talking sweat pants and Uggs with wool socks. So, I’d appreciate if other ladies could not made me look even crappier with their tailored blazers, effortless scarves, and Louboutin knock-offs.

There was a time when air travel was glamorous, and one “dressed” to fly. Gloves, hosiery, heels. You packed your silver train case with a pink chiffon scarf, cat-eye sunglasses, a real metal compact and your signature shade of lipstick. That was also a time when you were given a real silver knife with your meal. That was a time when there was a meal.

How things have changed. Yes, you might say, but surely you can still make an effort to look cute while you travel! I’m sure Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s "What Not to Wear" would tell me to do the same: strike a balance between comfort and style. I see other women pull it off: a matchy-matchy velour tracksuit, sporty but not-for-running shoes, hair pulled back in an “easy pony” -- with a long piece of smoothed out hair coiling around to hide the elastic. “Voila!” the glossy magazines shout.


It’s late, and I’m getting ready for an early flight the next morning. My overstuffed suitcase is packed, and I set out my favorite faded black Mickey Mouse sweatpants to wear in the morning. Stacy and Clinton would stop me with their admonishment, “At least make an effort!”

To which I might say, “I am making an effort: to be comfortable. “ And my choice of footwear is testament to that fact.

A huge part of the why I wear what I wear to fly is due to the fact that airplanes are notoriously frigid. When you are flying at cruising altitude, the Outside Air Temperature is -30 to -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Baby, it’s cold outside. And, if you find yourself freezing on the plane and DO find a blanket “available for purchase,” it might as well be an oversized, dyed, giant paper towel for all the warmth it's going to give you. No -- you’d better come prepared.

Feet get cold, and you can’t wear your coziest pair of socks with high heels. Pantyhose are no solution; I certainly need more than a thin layer of nylon on my legs. Nope. Sorry. I will wear my old standby: these favorite Mickey sweats and an equally faded hoodie. The clompy, fleece-lined Uggs complete the I-just-woke-up-and-threw-on-these-shoes-to-go-get-the-mail-in-the-sleet-and-snow look.

But when, just before bed that night, I found out a certain gentleman would be accompanying me on my airline travel, I rethought my wardrobe. Suddenly my black Mickey sweats were looking more and more pathetic. I wasn’t willing to dress up, but maybe I could compromise with structured black leggings and a stylish pair of Carlos Santana boots? Sure, they are heels, but they're pretty darn comfortable ones.

Yes. That’s what the magazines, or style gurus would tell me to do. “OK, so your feet get cold? Throw On A Sexy Pair of Boots!” Solved!

I considered this. I could do it. They are a great, leather, to-the-knee boot. Warm enough. Chic. Maybe even kinda sexy.

Then, I thought of security.

The problem is that getting in and out of these otherwise-perfect boots is kind of a production. Think of them as Spanx for your feet. Imagine having to get in and out of your damn Spanx while the whole security line waited and watched. These boots are great, but I’d have to find a place to sit, unzip the bottom portion, and wriggle those suckers off without losing my balance.

No. And, if I wasn’t going to wear the snazzy boots, what was the point of wearing the snazzy pants? Yes, I just used the word “snazzy.”

It was back to the Mickey and Uggs gear. My certain gentleman would just have to find me appealing in a “the touch, the feel of cotton” Zooey Deschanel kind of way.

You see, there are women who read articles in Allure Magazine about how to travel in style and arrive looking fresh-faced and energized. They manage to carry the perfect-sized and ginger-scented hand gel, lip-gloss, and travel-sized face cream, all in an adorable mini-clutch! They hydrate. Frequently.

I am not one of those women. I’m more likely to merely peruse the article just before the magazine gets smashed between stuff in the back of my car into a near-unreadable, zigzag shape. I don’t have a sleek silk eye mask that I carry in my Longchamp travel tote; I have a frayed, eight-year-old hoodie that I pull up to my nose and hope people get the hint. I don’t have long-handled, pretty, graphic-styled stackable luggage; I have a blackish-navy American Tourister peculated from my parents’ house eleven years ago, and a duffle bag I keep putting on top of it that keeps falling off. Put it on, fall off. Put it on, fall off.

I want to look pulled together when I fly. I’ve recently accepted that I do not. My traveling style includes footwear that will keep me from freezing, spraining, or straining anything and whatever pants are loose enough to keep me from feeling fat, feeling bloated or from getting vaginitis, cystitis, or any kind of “itis” whatsoever.

With all the holiday travel happening, I’d like to propose we agree that a day of travel day is a free pass, a respite from having to feel bad about not looking good, or feeling like you have to look any certain way whatsoever. Can we all just agree to that?

I know, people-watching is the all-time greatest pasttime in airports. But what do you say, ladies? Let’s give ourselves permission to look like crap at the airport. No judgment, no shame. Then, we can surprise everyone -- including ourselves -- the next day with how fantastic we clean up. No heels or minis required.