What to Wear on a Plane – My Travel Clothes Obsession
Wondering what to wear on a plane? Well, hi, nice to meet you – I’m Amber, and I’m just a little bit obsessed with travel clothes.
Honestly, I probably spend more time working out what to wear to the airport than I spend working out what to pack, and Victoria Beckham? If you’re reading this? It’s YOUR FAULT. Yes, you, with your long legs and your immaculate airport outfits, strutting along in your in 5″ heels, and making the rest of us wonder why WE always end up looking like a pile of rags by the end of a long-haul flight. (With “the rest of us” being “me” in this scenario, obviously. )
(I’m not joking, by the way: I LITERALLY always look like a pile of rags by the end of a flight, and I know this because my mum told me so, during a particularly memorable layover at Heathrow, on the way back from the States one year. “Wow, you look like a pile of rags!” she said, catching sight of my pale and crumpled self lying with my head on Terry’s lap. She tried to say she “didn’t mean it in a bad way,” but what other way IS there, I had to ask myself?)
Anyway, my point is that, despite all of my obsessing over travel clothes, I’ve long since given up any hope of looking like Victoria Beckham at the airport. Or at any other time, for that matter. I have, however, come up with something of a travel clothes formula over the years, and I present it to you now, because it’s not like I can think about anything else right now, is it?
WHAT TO WEAR ON A PLANE: OR ‘HOW I CHOOSE MY TRAVEL CLOTHES’
Keep it simple
Maybe I’m just unlucky, but most flights I take seem to take off at stupid o’clock in the morning, which means I’ve approximately ZERO chance of looking good for them. To try and make things easier on myself, I like to keep my travel clothes as simple as possible: and, I mean, I try to keep MOST of my clothes as simple as possible, but there’s no way I’m putting together some kind of elaborate airport outfit at 3am, so I always choose something super-simple, and which will look good with eye bags and slept-on hair. Or just the super-simple bit, anyway.
Layers. No, seriously: layers.
So, I’m not a big fan of layers. I hate feeling “bundled up” in my clothes, and having to add and remove ten million items to adjust my temperature, but travel clothes are the one exception to this, because you just can’t really risk anything OTHER than layers when you fly, can you? I almost always find planes absolutely freezing (like, “borrowing everyone else’s blanket and piling them all on top of me” freezing…), but every so often you’ll get a flight that’s hotter than the surface of the sun, so what’re you gonna do? You’re gonna wear layers, obviously, D’UH.
I like to wear a jacket of some kind, even if I’m travelling somewhere hot: underneath it I’ll normally wear a sweater layered over a t-shirt/tank, and I’ll often bring something like a hoodie (yes, really) or other warm piece of knitwear in my carry on. Because, yes, I get THAT cold. But sometimes I also get absolutely boiling, so go figure. Almost all of my airport outfits also involve trousers of some description: it’s normally way too cold on the plane for me to want to have bare legs, and I find tights uncomfortable even at the best of times, so there’s no way I’m wearing them on a cramped, 10-hour flight. Speaking of which…
When it comes to travel clothes, comfort comes first
As much as I’m sometimes tempted to dress up for the airport, I’ve learned the hard way that by the end of that flight I’ll be long past caring what I look like, so comfort has to come first – even if “comfort” means wearing leggings as pants. (OK, maybe not “as pants”, exactly, but as long as your top is long enough to cover the crotch, I’m not judging…) My basic rule with travel clothes is that if they wouldn’t be comfortable enough for me to lounge on the sofa in, or sit all day at my desk in, they probably won’t be comfortable enough for a long-haul flight, either. Works for me.
Travel clothes have to be crease-free
After comfort and warmth, the most important thing for me when I’m deciding what to wear on a plane is that my travel clothes be made from fabrics that don’t crease too easily. You’re literally going to be sleeping in these clothes, after all (Well, YOU might be: I won’t. Because who can sleep in a tin can that’s hurtling through the air at 500mph? Not me…), and crumpled clothes are one of my biggest pet peeves, which is why I always try to choose airport outfits that won’t crease. Because of this, I almost always end up in jeans: I know a lot of people find them too uncomfortable to fly in, but I’ve never found that to be the case – as long as they meet the criteria above, they’re good. The jeans in these photos have a lot of stretch to them, so they’re really easy to wear AND I know they’ll look the same at the end of the flight as they did at the start, which is why I find it hard to go past them when I’m picking out travel clothes.
Wear your heaviest item
I don’t always do this, because as I said in my hand-luggage post, we normally have a pretty generous luggage allowance to play with, but one of the reasons I’ll often wear jeans and a jacket on the plane is that I like to have those items with me when I travel, just in case we get bad weather, or end up doing something that requires something other than the many skirts and dresses I’ll have packed. They tend to be amongst the heavier/bulkier items I take with me, though, so I wear them on the plane, and free up some space in my suitcase.
Flats. Always flats.
This will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, but I’ve totally been That Girl wearing her highest heels to the airport – partly because of the whole, “but they’re the heaviest item!” thing above, but also because, well, Victoria Beckham. (Seriously, when I was younger, my parents used to make me walk a few steps behind them, so they could pretend they weren’t with me…) I don’t do that now, though. And I wish I could say “with age comes wisdom” here, but in my case it’s more “with age comes laziness”.
Airports quite often involve a lot of walking (and sometimes flat-out running), and while I will defend anyone who particularly wants to walk miles in heels (Yes, some people can walk perfectly easily in heels…), I’m not going to pretend flats aren’t a better choice if you’re going to be running around an airport or trying to force your poor, swollen feet into narrow stilettos at the end of a ten hour flight.
Also: I may have been That Girl in heels, but I’m pleased to say I’ve never been That Girl holding up the entire security line while she unbuckles her elaborate, strappy sandals, then puts them back on again: slip-on shoes forever!
What to wear on a plane going from a cold climate to a warm one?
One of the biggest issues with travel clothes is deciding what to wear when you’re traveling between two very different climates. My rule of thumb here is to dress for the colder of the two climates you’ll be experiencing, and, as with the tip above, WEAR LAYERS which you can add or remove as required. I once made the mistake of traveling to the airport in sandals and short sleeves in December (because I was flying somewhere hot), and let me tell you, that was one of the most miserable journeys of my life: I’d have been much better off in a thick jacket and sweater which I could have removed on the plane, or when I reached my destination – lesson learned!
What to wear on a plane if you’re in business or first class?
This is a question that comes up a lot, and the answer is that you wear exactly what you’d wear if you were traveling economy. Victoria Beckham aside, people just don’t dress up to fly any more, so choose comfort first, and rest assured that your fellow passengers will be doing the same.
* * *
And now, having written an entire post about what to wear on the plane, I have to admit I have absolutely no idea what I’m ACTUALLY going to wear on the plane. I should probably start to think about it. While I’m doing that, you can tell me your travel clothes tips…