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Life with Gracie: In search of the teens booted from United Airlines flight over fashion


If you were barred from a United Airlines flight in Denver because you were wearing leggings recently, there’s a company that wants to give you a free pair.

That’s right.

Define Your Inspiration, considered by Forbes magazine to be the next Lululemon because of their high-waisted leggings, is looking for you.

When DYI execs heard the airline turned you away, they were bombed like the rest of us.

Not that they are taking sides, they just hope their gesture will put a positive spin on an otherwise negative experience, said Kristi Torrington, a DYI spokeswoman.

If you’re reading this and know the teens, Torrington hopes you’ll give them a message. Email her: kristi@chicexecs.com.

“We just want to say sorry for the bad experience, here’s a pair of leggings,” Torrington said.

The teens were barred from boarding the United flight March 26 because they did not meet a dress code for special pass travelers even though their attire would’ve been just fine had they been paying customers.

United has since walked back that policy.

Watching news of it play out for days after, it was pretty obvious that leggings have become the new yoga pants in terms of controversy and discussions on propriety.

It reminded me of conversations I had a couple of years ago with Amanda Hallay about whether or not yoga pants are appropriate in various settings after a Montana lawmaker suggested that yoga pants be banned in public after a rather revealing bicycle event rolled through Missoula.

Hallay, a professor of fashion and cultural history at New York City’s LIM College, likened yoga pants to pajamas worn in public.

“The difference here is that leggings have been a ubiquitous part of most women’s wardrobes for decades without raising an eyebrow,” Hallay said.

With them first appearing as streetwear in the late 1970s and early ’80s, who didn’t own a pair of neon leggings teamed with a Ra-Ra skirt, rubber bangles, gelled hair, and a Walkman?!

Then in the ’90s, Hallay said, leggings lost their color, with black leggings becoming the ultimate sartorial signifier of the fashionable “anti-fashion” brigade as with Kate Moss. And they’ve never gone away, nor should they.

“As versatile and comfortable as a pair of beloved blue jeans, leggings are like that accommodating friend who’ll agree to do whatever we want to do,” Hallay said. “Dress them up or dress them down, they’ve been our go-to wardrobe wingman for almost 40 years.”

Still, what’s key when it comes to leggings is what they are teamed with.

Worn with a long tee, tunic, or oversized blouse, as long as the derriere is covered, leggings are appropriate for casual daywear or a night on the town, Hallay said.

However, if the leggings are low-rise and worn with a crop top, we’re in gym territory or (worst-case scenario) they begin to look like undergarments.

“An outfit with leggings should never read as intimate apparel — not if you want to go out of the house, and certainly not, it appears, if you want to board a flight with United,” Hallay said.

As for DYI, she said Forbes clearly knows where the money is (literally!) and DYI is clearly a label to watch.

I’ve never been a big fan of leggings, yoga pants, or white pants, for that matter, because most people don’t seem to know how to wear them. And it’s not just teens. It’s millennials and Generation Xers and even baby boomers like myself.

Having said that, you don’t even have to be a frequent flyer to know that the jet-set days of dressing up for air travel are long gone.

In that regard, the recent drama on United Airlines might actually have a positive effect on style in the sky, Hallay said.

“Not wanting to be barred or booted from a flight, we might very well see flyers dressing up a little more, which is always a good idea when traveling,” Hallay said. “You never know who you might be seated next to — and who doesn’t want to arrive at their destination looking stylish?”

Listen to Hallay. She knows what she’s talking about here.

Sweats may be comfortable, but so are skinny stretch jeans, which always look smarter and more pulled together than gym or yoga attire. Swelling feet make sneakers an obvious choice, but how much smarter to don a pair of cool and preppy Jackie O flats? Sweatshirts and hoodies are good to snuggle down in, but why not trade up for a cardigan or hooded sweater worn over a classic tee?

We all want to be comfortable when flying, yet that’s no reason to sacrifice style. And you never know, looking smart might finally get you that elusive bump up to first class, where you can sit with the drinkers of complimentary mimosas.

Works for me.

RELATED: United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane



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