Gay Talese has been floating around, which illustrates another kind of extreme. Somewhere between the two is a workable medium. In a recent email, my old pal Keohane (the guy who kindly opened a juicy can of worms on this blog in the past) had this to say about it:
I don't wear a three-piece suit when I fly, but I always wear a blazer, a button down shirt, and often a nice hat. It pains me to no end to see some maundering bag of food draped in matted velour sweatpants waiting at the check-in line. The 60s are big again style-wise, yet the idea that you should be presentable when you fly (which was a hard, fast rule forty years ago) remains inconceivable to most people. The wonder and ceremony, like in most other parts of life in America, are all gone. When J*** and I were flying to Argentina in 08, I had my usual uniform--jeans, shoes, button down, grey sportcoat, straw fedora, on. The kid checking IDs at the gate did a double take and said, "You look like a movie star, yo."
People bitch to no end about treated brusquely causally by airport personnel. But if you don't dress in a way that expresses a measure of self-respect, how can you expect people to treat you as anything but cattle? I find I'm almost always treated better when I fly, because my appearance suggests that that's what I expect from people. This is a general rule for life, I think.
Well said, old friend, well said.