What to wear on a plane

Wondering what to wear on a plane? Read on…

What to wear on a plane

What to Wear on a Plane

“What to wear on a plane” is a question that comes up a lot at this time of year, as many of you prepare to jet off to some glamorous location, and want to look equally glamorous en route.

Airport style is something that’s always fascinated me: I’ve never been particularly interested in the red carpet, but show me some photos of celebrities at the airport, and I can look at them all day. I’ve always wanted to be able to replicate that effortlessly elegant airport look, imagining myself striding through the departure lounge looking every bit as stylish as those celebrities do, but I learned a long time ago that it just isn’t possible. Celebrities, you see, have the advantage of flying first class, and being able to change out of their stiletto heels and tailored dresses as soon as they board the aircraft, and then back into them before they land. THAT’S how they manage to look immaculate and stylish, even after a 12 hour flight. For the rest of us, it’s not quite so easy, but there are ways to make sure you get OFF the plane looking just as stylish (well, OK, ALMOST as stylish) as you did when you got on it. Here some suggestions what to wear on a plane…

What to wear on a plane: the golden rules

 ♦ Comfort comes first

Air travel is many things: it’s exciting, sure, but it can also be incredibly uncomfortable, especially if you’re crammed into economy class, on a long haul trip. For this reason, comfort has to be your primary concern: the last thing you want when you’re stuck in a cramped airline seat for hours, is to make yourself feel even MORE uncomfortable with your choice of clothing. It doesn’t matter how great your outfit is, if you don’t feel good in it, you won’t look good in it either, so decide what to wear on a plane by first of all asking yourself what you feel most comfortable in. (No, pyjamas don’t count: sorry.) This is something that will differ from person to person: personally I almost always wear jeans to travel in, which I know many people advise against, but I find that as long as they have a decent amount of stretch, they’ll be one of the most comfortable options I can choose. Your comfort clothing may be totally different, but my rule of thumb is that if it’s comfortable enough to wear while sitting at my desk for hours, it should be comfortable enough to wear on a plane.

what to wear on a plane

What to wear on a plane:

♥  leggings  ♥  tunic   vest   ♥  cardigan  ♥  ballet flats   ♥  bag 

♦ Choose clothing that doesn’t crease easily

One of my biggest issues with choosing what to wear on a plane is that I always seem to leave the aircraft looking like I’ve slept in my clothes. That, of course, is because I often HAVE slept in my clothes: or I’ve tried to, anyway. Bear in mind that you’ll be sitting in a cramped space for many hours – and possibly sleeping in it, too. That won’t make your clothes look good, so the key is to choose items that don’t crease too easily. Again, this is one of the reasons I like denim (my jeans will look exactly the same at the end of the flight as they did at the start of it), but leggings, or anything else containing a good amount of lycra, will prove equally crease-resistant. Fabrics to avoid include linen and thin cotton: yes, they’re nice and cool, which might make them seem like a good idea if you’re flying somewhere warm, but they’ll be creased by the time you get to the airport, and will only get worse by the end of your flight.

♦ Wear warm layers, or pack them in your carry-on

It might just be me, but I always find the temperature on panes absolutely freezing, so even if I’m flying somewhere hot, I’ll always make sure I have something like a warm sweater, a hoodie or light jacket to take onto the plane with me. I like ponte blazers for this reason: they’re warm, and don’t crease (see the point above), but they still look smart and pulled together. Make sure, however, that your warm item is something you can easily remove and put into your carry-on: I’m always cold, but airplanes can be subject to sudden changes in temperature, and there have been times when I’ve been much too warm, too. (Also, if you’re headed somewhere tropical, you don’t want to be stuck in your winter woolies when you arrive!)

what to wear on a plane

What to wear on a plane:

♥  jeans    t-shirt  ♥  jersey blazer  ♥  circle scarf  ♥  flats  ♥  bag 

♦ Prepare for spillages

I love light, bright coloured clothing, but over the years I’ve learned to accept that I’m clumsy even at the best of times, and flying definitely isn’t “the best of times”. All you need is a little bit of turbulence, and your dinner and drink will be in your lap, so it’s better to choose colours that won’t show stains, and which are easy to dry clean).

♦ Keep it simple

Elaborate outfits and hairdos might look good, but they’re rarely the most comfortable to wear, and they can also be harder to maintain during a long flight. A simple, well-fitting outfit, with minimal jewellery and makeup, will stand up better to a long flight than a fussy one – and will also be easier to deal with at the airport: remember that you may be asked to remove your jewellery, belt etc at security, and no one wants to stand in line behind the girl with the arm party and the fifteen necklaces, so save them for when you reach your destination. As for hair and make-up, meanwhile, keep in mind that the air on board a plane isn’t kind to skin and hair: your skin can feel very dry at the end of a flight (which makes heavy makeup look bad), and your hair can end up looking limp and/or staticy – even more so if you’ve slept on the plane. I personally still wear SOME makeup, because I look ill without it, but I keep it very simple, and use the minimum amount of products possible: if you want to wear makeup, it might be a good idea to try a tinted moisturiser rather than foundation, and waterproof mascara will last longer without flaking than a regular one. When it comes to hair, I either leave it down, or go for a simple ponytail, which is easy to repair mid-flight, if necessary.

what to wear on a plane

What to wear on a plane:

♥  dress  ♥   denim jacket  ♥  pullover  ♥  sneakers  ♥  bag  ♥  sunglasses

♦ A final word on footwear

I’m always seeing photos of celebrities striding through the airport in 5″ heels, and those photos are almost always accompanied by comments from people scoffing at the “stupidity” of wearing heels on a plane. Now, I don’t for a second subscribe to this idea that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be comfortable in heels, and I think that if you ARE able to wear them easily, and want to, then you shouldn’t let other people’s comfort levels influence you. (In other words, wear what YOU find comfortable, not what other people find comfortable…) With that said, it’s important to remember two things:

1. Your feet are likely to swell during the flight. (As will the rest of your body, actually, which is why you want to make sure you’re dressed comfortably: if your trousers feel tight at the start of the flight, they’ll feel REALLY tight by the end of it!) Will you still be able to get your heels on and be comfortable in them if that happens?

2. You might have to run to catch your flight, or walk long distances through the terminal. Again, if you can’t do that easily in heels, don’t wear them.

What’s your advice on what to wear on a plane?


  • My go-tos are a pair of comfy (non-constricting) tights, a trapeze-ish 3/4-sleeve thick jersey dress and ballet/pointy flats. The first two allow for comfortable snuggling up and keeping modesty through all the contortions of a trans-atlantic; the flats are a must for all those security check when you need to put the shoes on and off really fast. A loose scarf is also a multi-purpose accessory.

  • I recently had a flight to Florence, with two layovers. I had to run twice to get my connecting flight. I wore some cute Adidas, black yoga pants, a band t-shirt, and cardigan. I was extremely comfy. Also, wear socks! Most people take off their shoes on long flights, such as myself. No one wants to smell your stinky bare feet for 11 hrs….lady the isle over from me. No jeans, unless they are loose. Layers are a must, as one flight was very warm and one was ice cold. Safe travels!

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