Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

TSA junk-touching wardrobe guide: DIA security calls out the fashion police

For this year's Thanksgiving travels, I will not need to carefully plan my wardrobe. I will not need to leave my sequined skirt in the closet, stash my underwire bra in my suitcase, wear a decent T-shirt under my jacket, slip into slip-on shoes, and remove every piece of metal from my person except old fillings (and even those are debatable).

Over the past nine years, I've seen more action at DIA than at any local bar. My junk has been touched, patted, prodded, my fashion sense mocked.

Soon after 9/11, I learned of the hazards of wearing an underwire bra while traveling when the undergarment kept setting off the magnetometer as I stepped through the big box at DIA. That resulted in polite pat-downs only slightly less thorough than a mammogram.

Today, of course, advanced screening equipment can tell exactly what kind of underwear you're wearing -- or not wearing. But that hasn't stopped the groping. My most recent flying fashion faux pas? Full skirts. According to one screener, wearing a voluminous garment will automatically get you patted down.

During one particularly memorable trip, I was stopped as I emerged from the advanced screening machine while the screener took a phone call, and started answering questions from whomever was analyzing the picture of my person. "Yes, there appears to be some lace on her skirt," she said. "And yes, there are some sparkly things on the skirt."

"Those are sequins," I sniffed. "And bad taste is not a crime."

No need to call the fashion police this year, though. I'm driving.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Tom Tancredo's run for Colorado governor proves that shirt happens."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun