Sense and Sensibility: Travel Attire Without Offense!

LV Travel

LV Travel

In Jane Austen’s iconic book, “Sense and Sensibility” the main theme is how the family central and the women characters prevalence of excessive sensibility renders them without venue to betterment in their life fraught with difficulties. How connected to ones travel attire you ask? Well actually quite a easy analogy … far too often attempts at what some claim as “sensible” is no more than what is most readily available and as such in no need of  forethought or planning. Frequently these choices render wearer as uncomfortable as they appear untidy and unattractive – this too leaving one expending energy in defense of being assured their choice was perfect. The options are plentiful and should include practicality, protection and good taste – difficult you might be thinking to combine all these into a single travel attire choice. No dear readers – it just takes REAL effort and the introspection to not present falsely oneself to others. Sound haughty? Maybe but trust me all I suggest indeed rather basic from the beginning of our species desire to roam the globe.

All through history as we humans became mobile via donkey, horse, carriage and finally train, plane and automobile travel attire was considered both a means to protection and comfort … history also informs us that style mattered even centuries ago – foremost as recognition of status and connection to host. Sort of our tribal colors one might say … surely notation of familial status in places of destination among primary reasoning as to what attire the traveling visitor needed to choose. We only need think of the Muslim required Hijab for women to understand that being clothed other than a culture demands can be dangerous in that you seem different and hence an object of derision. So lets see – protection, comfort and status the three categories that went and still goes into what we decide to wear while embarking on excursions. Right? Too much thinking you might say? Not at all I tell you – actually maybe now more than ever these elements must and should be taken into consideration as we choose what outfit to wear for our human increasing travel to and fro.

We all can agree that the weather elements often dictate choice of travel clothes … warm, cold, rainy or other can and should determine both the travel attire and destination packed items. Safety can mean the same and also issues like recently realized need to wear compression hose on long flights [something I have done for years either to board or put on once airborne]. There is absolutely no reason safety and comfort must replace style … being fashionable always an option if only effort and thought given the matter. Why even my compression hose come in sexy lace topped thigh highs. Shoes easy too – as each and every company [both my choice of designers and lesser price options] offer that which is both travel ready and attractive. By the way, flip-flops not a plane option – especially if your feet less than pleasant to look at … you risk injury to yourself and insult to others. Having had the great privilege of private plane travel in the past I assure you not even then would or did I [despite having rather nice feet] insist host and fellow passengers be cautious so as to not injure my exposed appendages. See it is just a matter of good manners often that can lead one to make REALLY good travel choices – both self and others should be least bothered by what we wear.

Having been blessed to travel all my life … my parents being sure that was part of our family life and my continuing that discipline as an adult – wether my fourteen times to the Middle East, nearly as many to Europe and Japan twice, closer continents as twice to South America and of course, visits to Canada, almost all fifty U.S. States and a sundry of island vacations I have made travel fashion part and parcel of my excursion. Yes the days when people dressed in their best finery to board trains and planes – ladies in dresses, hats, gloves and men in dapper suits and hats as well might be gone [although I have often worn rather large glamorous sun hats when departing in sunny Florida and such places] and still I and others certainly still seem to find the energy and time to look well turned out as we embark on trips that allow for life to be expanded beyond the confines of  the daily grind. As I opened this essay with reference to the characters in Jane Austen’s novel where the strident determination to be sensible in the end deterred growth and glory, I tell you so will that same attitude in your travel clothing choices if it results in your being too preoccupied with such as  to give breadth and width as you decide what attire most appealing to yourself and those at the other end of your journey!

P.S. My travel tip for good memories besides a travel diary for longer trips is to date each and every photo … I have been doing this since a child as my Mother would instruct us to date & write a little note on back as to the where, etc.. Now made so much easier with technology … of course having a willing hubby like mine who imports all photos & makes disks for each & every trip both past & present a great advantage.

Patriotism and Jewish Fashion USA!!!

usa_4th_fashionMy people – the Jews – have long been a part of the America garment industry. We were in the so called “rag trade” when not fashionable and far from profitable … more a means to an end as the saying goes. But like so much else in our complex America narrative – through circumstance and happenstance – we turned that marginal position into a gloried and hugely successful enterprise. Simply a case of what other Americans once thought menial or too difficult a work choice becoming our path to a rages to riches biography. Names flow easily in describing department stores and fashion houses that are known or little known to be ours … began and owned by Jewish Americans. Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, my Philadelphia family friends, Gimbels – the designers Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Diane Van Frustenberg and Israeli born American Elie Tahari, along with stylist/designer Rachel Zoe and my own family Philadelphia acquaintance, the generous philanthropist Sidney Kimmel whose fortune began in the clothing  industry  … these are to name just a very recognizable few.

Without a doubt this essay is about my prideful and one might say even boastful or braggart explanation of how we Jewish Americans created an industry profitable to ourselves and so many others … just the employment numbers of the fashion businesses we created are staggering and important to not only cities like New York but across the nation. Equally I am thrilled at the influences of art and design that our involvement has established. Why just alone the iconic Americana images of a lifestyle that Lauren has created defines an entirely complete and resplendent representation of who and what we are as a nation. We can not forget that twice our U.S. Olympic team has been present at the games clad in Ralph Lauren designs. Still there is a more poignant meaning that I attempt to establish for my readers … for each of these famous Jewish Americans in both small and large ways have attempted to give back to the land of either their birth or acquired citizenship that which otherwise the USA would not be the benefactor of in neither substance or tangible effects

Judaism dictates that we all perform Tikkun olam – meaning “repairing the world” actions. It seems no matter status or level of knowledge of our faith, all Jews somehow and in some way to some extent adhere to this promise. It is the simple reason we are so involved in organization and causes around the world – those in the fashion industry being no different. In this we find issues of American Jewish patriotism bred and developed. In the late 1990’s Ralph Lauren saved our 200 year old flag writing that he was part of the American Dream as son of Jewish immigrants … he responded to then President and First Lady Clinton’s request that our Star-Spangled Banner which flew during the decisive Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812 be restored and hence persevered. Upon receiving the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in 2014, Mr. Lauren seemed both humble and without hubris gratified that his success allowed him to do so much for our beloved nation.

Being in New York City not long after 9/11, my friend Sonia, herself in the fashion industry suggested we stroll by one of my favorite go to designers, Israeli born Elie Tahari’s on 5th Avenue to see his commissioned American flag wrapped 3 story building. When receiving an award of recognition from Elie Wiesel in 2003, Mr. Tahari explained that after 9/11 as an immigrant Persian Jew, he wanted his then infant son to see how REAL freedom was represented by something like the American flag … yes an object to him representative of his “Paradise“, the United States of America”.

So here we are July 4th, 2014 holiday weekend. I an American Jew, with Albanian Muslim Maternal Ancestry and a Catholic husband who legally took my Jewish last name/wanted same for any children G-d blessed us with … family, friends and colleagues of every race, religion and nationality – a world wide blessing of people in my life that I have been privileged to meet by traveling the world as moved by the iconic American flag as Mr.Lauren and Tahari have obviously been. Why we feel this way as each of us equally devoted to our ancestral homeland of Israeli is actually quite simple: Here in the United States of America while imperfect through our neighbors anti-semitic actions, we are still made whole and able to be successful and participatory without restriction or need to hide our pride in being Jewish – in that alone the Stars & Stripes is our banner of glory. May G-d bless America and all around the world who recognize our REAL freedoms!!!

P.S. When I met my husband 11 years ago [August 2003/married November 2003] along with each other, National Public Radio, Football and Jaguar cars – one of our first chats were about us both wearing shirts the day we met with Lauren’s Polo Pony emblem. Trust me and all who know us personally agree – that my erudite feminist hubby who loves fine dining, Naational Public Radio, classical music, etc., as well as good design in clothes and more comes from a place far different than my own and not likely to have instilled in him an appreciation as my East Coast sophisticated background did for such things. So you see it is kismet and a little of Ralph Lauren that made our match a perfect fit!!!