I spent a recent afternoon sitting in the Chicago airport people watching – the perfect activity for those traveling alone and not ready to dig into a book. People watching has been a favorite pastime for as many years as I can remember, and especially entertaining on a Sunday afternoon in June in one of the busiest airports in the country.
Vacations. Business trips. Family obligations. Funerals. Reunions (I was returning from one). All sorts of people are traveling in the summer.
I remember a time when travel meant dressing up. Actual dresses or at least dress slax and a nice blouse for the ladies and a suit or sport coat for the men. (I am older and a bit conservative in fashion.) Times have changed. Today’s travelers wear all sorts of costumes. Apparently, anything goes when you are on the go!
It’s June in the midwest. Hot and humid. Maybe that’s why there are lots of bare legs and more midriffs than I ever want to see away from the beach. But the most common costume is jeans and a t-shirt – sometimes designer jeans and silk t-shirts! The most common accessory is the backpack.
Eight very good looking, late 20s men (German?) (I’m old but not dead) have settled in at the charging station with multiple electronic devices plugged in. All are reading. Four are reading real books while the others read their phones. All have backpacks at their feet. All are in the unofficial travel uniform: Jeans and t-shirts, some accessorized with baseball caps turned backwards.
In contrast, there is the distinguished looking 6’5″ 70ish gentleman in pressed kakis and sport shirt carrying a sport coat with a very large book tucked under his arm. He seems well prepared for a long flight to China. (I also do a bit of eaves dropping while people watching.)
A monk. Replete with sandals, long beard, long robe with cowl and cincture, and a back pack.
An elegant African lady wearing a deep rose and orange print flowing dress with over-skirt and matching turban.
The practical couple in ripstop nylon cargo pants and coolmax shirts and backpacks.
A petite young mother in black capris, bold pink and orange striped tunic with a large pink leather carry on bag and matching sandals AND coordinated 10 year old daughter!
Leggings on too many ladies who should NOT be wearing them but traffic stoppers on the few who carry it off like a true comfort fashion statement.
Too many ladies with thunder thighs in short-shorts. Too many men with beer bellies wearing muscle shirts. And don’t get me started on the flannel pajama bottoms!
All seem ready for a change of scenery. No one is particularly harried this afternoon (except a few moms with restless kids).
Me? Oh, I go for comfort these days. Wrinkle free capris and light weight cotton tunic. Conservative coverage. Cool. No need for an extra layer. Able to sit for many hours without looking like I’ve been through the wringer. Not a fashion statement, but I’ll not be embarrassed if I run into anyone I know.
After carefully watching everyone, I’ve decided that I do need to look into a new wheeled carry on for electronics and camera. Lugging this gear in a hand held bag is a challenge these days. I don’t think there is a valet in my future travels, so I will do some Amazon shopping for a new wheeled carryon bag…maybe THAT will be my travel fashion statement in the future.