Traveling has been part of the DNA of Parisian Gentleman since we began this project seven years ago.
Sonya, Greg and I have been roaming the world tirelessly for the needs of our editorial work as well as for a number of side activities related to Parisian Gentleman – ranging from university conferences to private receptions, various "sartorial" events, PG events, and book signings, to visiting a staggering amount of workshops and manufactures for my books (as well as attending international trade salons, movie sets, interviews for the press—traditional and digital). As a matter of reality, we’ve been on the road more days then we can count.
Last year, for the research work for my upcoming "The Italian Gentleman" book and for the various signing events for "The Parisian Gentleman", we traveled for a solid 9 months without setting foot back home. We trekked all over Italy of course, but also we spent significant time in Spain, the UK, the US, Asia, South America, Canada, and in Eastern Europe.
Of course, "on the road" is a figure of speech here. We mostly took the plane. And by mostly, I mean an obscene amount of time over the past twelve months.
Yet we never compromised with one of our internal rules – that of always traveling well-dressed. Be it with a full suit or sports jacket, a tie, a pocket square, or at the very least, a pair of well-shined shoes and a nice, freshly ironed shirt. This rule we wouldn't cheat on, no matter the destination or the duration of the trip.
It’s a rule which might seem ludicrous to many – as it seems understood that the priority when traveling, in particular on a long-haul flight, would be to put comfort over style, for obvious reasons and benefits.
Still, having travelled a solid couple hundred times fully suited-up (with tie) over the past couple of years – and not only in business class (not by a long stretch) - I can attest that it is perfectly possible to travel while dressed elegantly. Not only that, but chances are, traveling in style will improve, almost constantly, the quality of your travel experience.
And why ? Being elegantly dressed triggers a set of reactions with people you meet during your voyage – from ground agents, to the security team, to the border police, the cabin crew and the passengers, with these encounters accompanied by reactions which are consistently the same – smiles, kindness, respect and politeness — to the degree which camouflage cargo shorts with hiking sandals could never hope to replicate.
Believe me when I say : being dressed, and behaving elegantly for a long trip will almost always bring its fair share of perks and good surprises : last-minute upgrades for your seat arrangements, fast-pass for the check-in line, ease of access to many frequent flyer salons, and fast-tracks even without the right ticket, second servings of red wine and crackers, and a wealth of other similar tidbits that will make your trip more enjoyable. Dressing well, especially when sharp clothes are paired with elegant behavior, will earn you a lot of sympathy – especially when you act well in the gravity of a difficult situation without irritation or annoyance, and keep that smile alive.
Climbing in a place for a long-haul travel in a bespoke suit with a well-tied tie and a nice pair of shoes is a surprisingly positive experience – both for your own benefit and that of the crew, who seems to appreciate nicely dressed and well behaved passengers. More often than not, the cabin crew will be particularly considerate to "that guy with the suit and the long hair" and his partner "that girl in the suit with a tie and suspenders, in seats 14 E and F". Over the years, some crew members even approached us to say how nice it was for them to serve passengers that set themselves apart from the usual fare, in a positive way.
I like to travel while wearing a tie, if only to set myself apart from the crowd.
Another reason I prefer to wear a tie during travel is because this small gesture lends an “ambiance from the past” to the travel experience — as if crossing the Atlantic in an airplane was still an event in itself, a special occasion worth dressing well for in advance.
If you’re wearing a shirt from a quality source and if your tie is light and the knot is sturdy, you'll be able to travel an entire eight-hours-plus trip without looking worse for wear, although you may need to loosen the tie a bit and open up your shirt collar a button or two for a nap...
Of course these days, traveling well-dressed does not necessarily require wearing a tie. Indeed, a nice travel jacket with a well-fitted button-down shirt and a good pair of cotton trousers will do the trick as well.
Traveling elegantly dressed is important, as far as I'm concerned — if only because it turns a deeply boring and frankly tiring experience in a truly pleasant human experience.
Try it for yourself, and see the difference...