By Morgan O’Hare
It’s a Tuesday evening in early October and I’m stuck in the airport in Charlotte, N.C. I’m sitting Indian-style on the carpet next to my sister at Gate C4 when my eyes do a full scan of her unusual ensemble. She is adorned in capri yoga pants, a giant sweatshirt, and thong sandals with socks on. Yes, you read that correctly. She has on neon green and blue socks with her sandals.
I must look away. I spot see a woman a few feet away, wearing 7 ½ inch patent leather platforms, a mid-length dress and a fitted blazer. It boggled my mind that my sister and this woman were in such close proximity to each other with the most polar opposite styles of dress. It was at this point in my life that I arrived at a truth of epic proportions: Airports are the only judgment-free zone where you can literally wear whatever you want and anything goes.
I was eager to get to the root of why airports are alternate universes of stylistic free expression. Why did I not have the slightest care in the world that my sister, Brooke O’Hare, looked borderline homeless? If we had been walking around Highland Park Village, I would be mortified to be seen with her. I’d be walking a few paces in front of her to avoid the concerned glances at my genetic counterpart.
I asked Brooke about why styles at airports vary so greatly. “People are so focused on getting to their destinations, no one cares. Some dress for comfort, and others don’t have time to change from the plane to go to wherever they are going.”
Fast-forward a few weeks, and I am stepping off a plane in Las Vegas. I’m sporting black skinny jeans, black combat boots, a Sex Pistols tee, backwards black baseball cap, and a gold choker. I looked as if I were running late for a sound check at the MGM Grand with the rest of my headlining rock band nowhere to be found. And I’m not gonna lie, I was loving it.
As I met up with my best friend, Grace Merck, at baggage claim, she looked at my outfit with a smile. “You look like a celeb,” she said to me as I tried to hide my excitement and normal-girl reality behind my big sunglasses. “You love airport outfits.” And I thought to myself: Yes, you’re right! I really do love airport outfits. Why? Because I can be whomever I want to be.
Mary Bartholemew, an employee at Southwest Airlines, explains that anything goes as far as dress in the airport. “I see every type of outfit in the world you can think of in here,” she said.
So if airports really are these mystical buildings of no judgment, why aren’t we using them as the ultimate testing grounds for every trend we’re too scared to try in public?
As someone who picks an airport persona and goes for it without hesitation, I have a pearl of advice: If you are one of those girls who is too intimidated to take fashion risks, do it the next time you fly. Make a statement with those harem pants you purchased while studying abroad, or dress like you’re a long lost member of Rihanna’s entourage by throwing on those Timberlands, ID chain necklaces, and a backwards snapback.
Embrace your creative side, because someone is probably watching you pass through security, wishing she had.