Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sweatpants on a Plane: First Impression vs. Ongoing Dialogue

There are people, though I am definitely not among them, that get dressed up when traveling, just in case of that chance, in transit encounter that might change your life. The underlying principle behind this no-sweatpants while flying philosophy is that everyday is a first impression. And you should always make the most of a first impression.

I still prefer sweats for flying. But I'm wondering if all this concern over first impressions is just silly--you can blow all your effort by simply opening your mouth if you have nothing of substance to say.

So here's another one of those, what's more important questions: first impressions or ongoing dialogue?

Issues of false dichotomy aside, I'd prefer to be judged by the content of my character (and head) than my appearance. Appearance based first impressions lack understanding of personal depth and intellect--usually that requires some semblance of an ongoing relationship.

But what do you think?


JayVee said...

Very interesting post. I'm in the "sweatpants while flying" crowd as well. I guess I never really thought of it as it having potential implications for judgment by others. I think it's a slippery slope. As much as we say we like to be judged by our minds, thoughts, and/or what we contribute to life, it's human nature to formulate some opinion of a person strictly based on appearance, which essentially the first impression.

If you blow the first impression, you may never get the chance to establish an on-going dialogue because some people are too closed-minded to dig deeper.

Hmm... Maybe I'll purchase some "dressier" sweats for my next flight. :)

Sandy said...

On one of my flights in between Portland and Boston, I sat next to an HP inventor. The man was incredible to talk to, had multiple patents out in his name and had a very interesting perspective on childrearing so as to encourage creativity. The conversation was no doubt inspired by the luck of random seat assignments, but it would not have happened if I had been prejudged on the basis of sweatpants (it also might have helped that were sitting near a 16 year-old who was fighting with his mother on the plane about how she took away his brand new mustang--thus, an initial point of conversation was provided)... Regardless, it was a great chance interaction--based not on appearance but on content.

Chance first impressions aside, I wouldn't suggest walking into a job interview straight off a plane (i.e. in sweats)... It seems to me there ought to be some middle ground in between slippery slopes on each side. Yet another balancing act?

I like the idea of dressy sweats-- signifying perhaps that you care enough about the possibilities to think about how you look, but also placing a premium on in-flight comfort. Perhaps I'll invest in some as well. :-)

JayVee said...

Good to hear you had a positive in-flight experience while enjoying maximum comfort. I was wondered why I never had any interesting flight conversations, but then it hit me. It probably has less to do with my dress than it does with the fact that I tend to fall asleep once I find my seat. (I hate flying, sleeping is a nice distraction).

I agree, yet another balancing act.