What Do You Wear to Travel?

Upcoming travel? Freshen up on the assholes you’re likely to meet on an airplane. Want to take a vicarious vacation? Click through Leandra’s Day in the life in Paris. If you’re still stuck on what to wear while traveling, take the advice of Amanda Brooks.

The way a woman dresses to the airport and on a plane says a lot about her. Does she hail from the comfort clothes school-of-thought? The one that argues if you’re going to go anywhere, you’re best off getting there in no-fuss clothes that make you feel close-to-naked? How far is this comfort-wear taken — as in, does she bring her own neck pillow? Are there flip flops involved?

Does she prefer jeans? (…To men?)

A stiff pair of trousers? If she does, in fact, prefer trousers, is the supposition that she spends a majority of her travel time in a vertical position?

How do I sign up for that lifestyle?

When Carrie Bradshaw moved to Paris, she wore a ridiculous hat replete with a veil pinned into her freshly blown-out hair and the kind of dress you might see on a publicist at the Met Gala. But that said something, right? About where she was going, the respect she attributed to the travel and that old-world sense of glamour that is largely devoid of the airports we occupy today, right?

Until recently, I resented my mother for putting pants-proper on me when we used travel as family — as far as the airports could trend-forecast, all the other kids wore sweatpants. And sweatshirts. They had their pillows and huge backpacks behind them. But getting dressed (I mean really dressed) turned into a habit, which in the last several years snowballed into an opportunity to optimize on my ability to pack. See, if I could wear an outfit that I would want to utilize after I reached my destination, I’d save space in my suitcase and in saving space in my suitcase, I could buy relics from my travels. Relics like urns! And frying pans! Spoons and Saint Laurent shoes!

After all, it seems kind of futile that a travel outfit won’t get you anywhere after you’ve landed, no?

But enough about me! Talk about you! What do you wear to travel? I’d like to test my skills as a failed psychologist and attempt to determine stuff about who you are intrinsically based on your preferred method of clothing, so: get going. (Get it?)

Images from Associated Newspapers via WhoWhatWear and Rex Features via Marie Claire

Get more Fashion ?
  • I’m actually hopping on a plane in a couple hours! Today I am wearing all black. Black jeans, black t. I like to add a sweater because it doubles as a blanket and frees up room in my suitcase. So I am also wearing a black sweater. Revolutionary, I know. I put the most thought into my airport outfit when departing for a trip. My arriving back home look is mostly zumba-mom inspired meets cranky toddler. As for shoessss: something that doesn’t take more than 4 seconds to take on and off. Another rule: glasses always. I fall asleep the second I get on a plane I don’t want my contacts drying out!

  • aezzea

    I’m flying home from college for the last time ever tomorrow! I’m wearing jeans, a striped navy and white tee with tan sandals that I call my “Jesus walks” sandals. My airplane outfits are something I always put a lot of thought into now. Its like hey look how much cooler I am since the last time you saw me?

  • Claudia Tetreault-Percy

    A black blazer is always involved, that’s for sure. I wear cute loafers with ripped blue denim, and bring a few easy Ts in different colours to change into when I land. My hair is short and curly so I mix it up with different headbands to avoid le plane bedhead. Ya feel me?

  • LP

    For my recent travels to Paris I melded comfort and style. I wore a pair of dark gray workout leggings from Athleta (I know, stay with me) with a long denim shirt dress, long drapey warm-ass cardigan, a cashmere scarf, and repetto ballet flats. Socks in my purse for on plane wear. Not the most fashionable but also not the worst, and I slept like a swaddled baby for almost the entire flight.

  • mollie blackwood

    Just got back (to Birmingham, AL) from a trip to Idaho. My boyfriend and I were noting all the weird outfits we saw. The most notable being the girl that wore a lace mini dress (she was alone, not one a honeymoon unless she was going by herself). We were on a flight that continued to Orlando aka Disney World. You can imagine what those people were wearing. I wore high rise black jeans, soft t-shirt, tan sweater, and converses. Do I have a mental illness?

  • Aydan

    button down, scarf, black jeans, and leader slip-ons is my go to! add a wax jacket or jean (depending on destination weather) and you’ve saved yourself a whole lot of room in the carry on!!

  • parkzark

    Usually some kind of comfy cotton t shirt, jeans, and converse or birks. Simple baby simple.

  • Ana

    hmmm practical but nothing that I wouldn’t be caught wearing any other day. cashmere, jeans, leather jacket (or other jacket depending on weather on departure and destination) and superga/espadrilles/ boots (again, depending on weather).

  • Allie Fasanella

    socks. fuzzy socks. and usually some sort of comfortable trousers/joggers that feel as close to pajamas as you can get.

  • Amy

    My trips tend to be very casual—I spend them hiking or on beaches (not a lot of fancy dinners out), so if I wore that stuff on the plane it’d be really obnoxious or inappropriate (bikini + coverup, or yoga pants + sneakers). I try to go the comfy route with a maxi skirt, sandals, tank top and sweater—gets you through security quickly, and you stay as comfortable as possible on a several-hour plane ride. Plus, none of that stuff takes up much space once you’re at your destination.

  • Sujie Kim

    Leggings. Always leggings. Also if its winter I will wear my biggest shoes that I’m bringing and the biggest coat, because I NEED to fit that bag in the overhead bin.

  • because i fly spirit bare fare a lot (therefore, tiny suitcase), but also usually want to take 5 pairs of shoes, at least one hat, and at least one blazer with me anyway, airplane me has to wear all the bulky stuff at the same time. so the overall effect is jack white seeming somehow.. lost?

    case and point: this is me before leaving for LA. note the leather jacket elegantly draped on top of the blazer, the giant necklace and the fact that i am wearing three shirts:

    • BK

      You know what you’re doing

    • Erika

      And you look super cute! Plane-win!

  • Jill

    My regular, everyday wardrobe mostly consists of drapey tops, wrap (or faux wrap) dresses, jeans, drapey skirts, tank tops, etc….all things that pack “small” and don’t wrinkle easily. This translates well to packing said wardrobe. Also I find that – in most cases – a simple black tank or black skirt can be worn more than once without washing if necessary. No one will even notice. The biggest difficulty I have is shoes. I bring a lot of flats (sandals or boots depending on where I’m going) but I like to have my heels with me for getting a little fancier or going out. They just take up so much room….which leaves, of course, less room for souvenirs. Also I try to make my flying-out outfit work for flying-back. Simple black tank or tee with jeans…or something like that. You get the idea. 🙂

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  • V-Style

    Easy slip on ankle boots, stretchy skinny Burberry pants, a top with an animal on it (grey embellished J.Crew Parrot or perhaps a Loft Zebra) and “very cool” flexible outerwear for the cold plane and perhaps colder destination (London anyone?). These days the outerwear is a red Ted Baker jacket or a J.Crew sweatshirt.

  • Amelia Diamond

    On a winter flight after work I was wearing a suede coat over a denim jacket over a striped knit plus a scarf. The denim jacket was buttoned twice at the neck/top of my chest. Important detail because: the security line was moving fast, and by the time I took my coat and scarf and shoes off and took the liquids and ipad out of my carry on, yadda yadda, I just couldn’t be bothered with the denim jacket. The security guard immediately stopped me and told me to take off my jacket. I DIDN’T WANT TO. (You guys get it. Hassle. My arms always get stuck. I didn’t feel like doing that denim jacket wiggle.) So instead I told him it was part of my shirt. He looked really confused and suspicious and asked, “It’s one of those connected two-in-one deals?” So I was like, “Yea.” Dead stare. And he let me through! COol story huh?

    • samhallie

      lol weirdo ;P

    • samhallie

      I go to Thailand next week! I was just gonna wear yoga pants and a baggy top aka the California uniform? Now I think I gotta spice it up.

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  • Vicki D.

    my go to lately has been a jersey jumpsuit with my stan smiths and a denim jacket or leather jacket – so effortless and DAMN COMFORTABLE, too.

  • I go for the all black to maximize the cool factor and the “you can’t tell I just spilled my iced coffee down my front” factor. Then I wear whatever shoes take up the most room in my luggage, so most of the time I end up in weirdly wide ankle boots. I like to wear a backpack to go with all of this, because not only is it a great crap holder, but it also makes me look like I’m going on a field trip.

  • Stephanie

    My sister used to work for an airline and when I would fly on her buddy passes we were required to dress “business casual” because we were representing the airline. It wasn’t terrible, but I have to say flying in jeans and casual clothing is MUCH more comfortable! I am with you on strategic layering and wearing items you want to wear again at your destination- it’s just smart packing! (or not-packing)

  • CaturM

    Always closed toe shoes… I secretly judge people who fly open toe

    • Lyla

      . . . why? What’s wrong with sandals?

  • Anna Kalmbach

    Got back from Vegas yesterday…. White Stateside tank, black strappy sports bra, Lucy leggings, Vans & a straw hat

  • Jin

    I always wear leggings, a tee, and a blazer. And a big ass scarf to double as a blanket on the plane.

  • Sam

    I’m seriously terrified of the security check, so my flying outfit has to check 3 boxes: Stylish, comfortable, and TSA-friendly. I usually go with all back everything. No jewelry, a loose wrinkle-free shirt (preferably with some decorative detail or subtle pattern to make up for the fact that I’m not wearing jewelry), not sweatpants pants with a little stretch, and easy on/off smoking slippers. I also always, always, always have a light weight cardigan or blazer regardless of the outside temperature, ‘cause planes get freaking cold!


  • Dawn

    I wear pant-like stretchy pants. Or, a jersey maxi. Anything that allows my legs to spread, so I don’t have to sit prim and proper. Jewelry is how I personalize my look, so the airport is tough on that since it invariably sets off the detector. Enter, the scarf–necklace sub, and warmth when the air is blowing right on me. Last, comfortable shoes! I can’t deal with heels and I feel that somehow it looks like you’re trying too hard–everyone knows there’s a lot of schlepping at the airport.

  • Abigail

    always always always a travel scarf. i have one that’s white and red that i bring on every single flight i take. it doubles as a pillow or a wrap and makes the casual chic thing a little more chic and it’s also soft and i like things that are soft

    • Abigail

      also, this girl i studied abroad with wore a t shirt, a sweater, a shacket (shirt jacket/chambray button down), a blazer, a peacoat AND this fur coat thing on a flight to italy so she’d have more room in her suitcase and if that isn’t impressive idk what is but she didn’t use the space to bring back an urn sooo not really sure if that counts as a good story or not

  • Rebecca

    i guess the more important question is which class are you flying – coach or business or first? Since i’m cheap I fly coach/economy and that means I’m squished with a bunch of people with little to no space. I make sure I wear things that are soft and cozy but items i can recycle on my trip.

    I’m about to do the big Europe trip for 3 weeks in August and have no clue how to pack. It’s all budget airlines so I gotta pack light.


    • L.A. Lady

      I fly both but pretty much pack the same way: the only difference for packing means your access to the overhead bins will be more cumbersome. Airports in Europe are huge (thinking of Heathrow and Schiphol) so plan on some very comfortable flats and some leggings (both of which you can wear in Europe in August).

  • L.A. Lady

    I wear layers and some REALLY comfortable Cole Haan ballet flats. Basically, it’s stretchy knits but sophisticated (i.e.: no sweat pants, yoga pants, sweatshirts, etc). Several times I’ve worn boots and I regret it every time: they’re too constricting for anything over 3 hours. I wore some slouchy flat boots while traveling this past Christmas and it was a little better. I keep the jewelry in my bag but always rock a pair of dark sunglasses, mostly because I hate having long conversations on planes. Even though I wear contacts I still wear them on a plane and just use rewetting drops.

  • Emily Moran

    Why miss out on an opportunity to look like a chic world traveler? Mic drop.

  • Hannah Climas

    I feel like such a pariah saying this, but I don’t think I could wear jeans on a plane if my life depended on it. Maybe I’ve just never found the right pair, I dunno.

    Had to fly a lot this year for job interviews, flying uniform has always been a loose knee-length dress with flat boots, massive fur-lined parka and pretty wool scarf.

    I need to up my Jean Game!

  • Katie R.

    A couple of years ago I traveled back and forth to New York a bunch for work (I’m in Los Angeles) and I got my travel uniform down. I believe in looking presentable, but I also have to be comfortable sitting in coach for 6 hours, likely trying to sleep bc I’m on the red eye. I always wear a jumpsuit, my go-to being a dark chambray sleeveless button-up that is actually from the Gap. The main reason for this is that my high-waisted jeans give me a major tummy-ache sitting on the plane for so long because I get really bloated and gassy (is that just me?) and this way I can feel put-together without a restricting waist band. I feel too sloppy in sweats and over-dressed in a dress. If its cold, I’ll layer a long sleeve tee underneath (to minimize the downfall of the jumpsuit, having to take the whole thing off to pee), I always wear a pair of boots or high top sneakers so that I have socks on, bring a big scarf/blanket, add a cardigan and beanie if its winter, and top it all off with my trench coat. All that and my Fjallraven backpack and my Muji travel pillow, bc those things are the shit, seriously.

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  • Alex

    Last trip I wore, a black tee shirt, black joggers, a giant grey grandma cardigan, a black SnapBack, and black Birkenstocks w/ black socks. Cuz IDGAF.

  • Haha! Your paragraph about how your mum used to dress you made me chuckle. My father was, and is, exactly the same. Even now, he would much rather I wore a white button down, corduroy pants and loafers to the airport. Particularly when we would travel to India to visit family: “They must know that you’ve come from London the second you land!” I always thought it was a result of him moving to a foreign land and ‘making it’?

    The two of us were once flying back to London from a family wedding in New Delhi. I was 19, young, wreckless and full of hippie power after a trip to Fab India (for those who don’t know, it’s a store where you can find cotton, batik and more cotton with traditional Indian embroidery and prints). I had a super loose pair of harem pants on and a size L men’s tee from Gap. As soon as my dad saw me, he laughed and told me to change out of my pyjamas. When I told him that this was my airport attire, he laughed again, and told me to change out of my pyjamas.

  • BK

    Not related, not not related: why are planes so cold

    • Jill S

      I am thinking better cold than hot (though I hate to be cold) because do *you* want to be smelling all those bodies jammed together in a hot plane?? :0 Not me… 🙂

  • My go-to is a pair of black tights and a long chambray button-up. It’s comfy, looks reasonably put together, and each piece can be used with other outfits when I arrive.


  • I travel a lot for work and I somehow have a travel uniform. Black spaghetti strap top from Uniqlo with a built in bra (super comfy!), skinny jeans and a long cardigan so I don’t flash anyone my butt when i bend over or am hefting things around. If I want to save space in my bag I wear wedges (such space eating monsters), and I always steal a hotel slippers to wear on a plane 😉
    BUT. I have discovered I inevitably get treated better when I have my face made on and wear a proper jacket, even if it’s over a casual top and jeans. Somehow I guess that makes you look more business-y and people seem to make more effort to please me then when I flop onto the plane with frizzy hair and no makeup.
    The world disillusions me!

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  • Erika

    Last time I traveled, I wore a cotton jersey maxi dress with a jean jacket and flip flops. I swear, that was seriously ten times more comfy than my yoga pants, soft t shirt, and pullover sweater uniform. Plus, I felt like I didn’t stink<—that's a BIG one (HUGE!)!


  • Sati Marie Frost

    Spandex. Flat ballerina pumps. Cuts down a lot of the time at security when they can see you don’t have anywhere you could possibly hide things.

    If I’m travelling first class, that changes things, but I can’t remember the last time I did that. A long time ago, in any case.

  • Suzy Q

    Leandra, I don’t believe you’ve ever caught a flight either to, or en-route to India. You will not believe the amount of jewelry you see across bosoms of the ladies wearing the modern-traditional combo of known as the “sweatpant-sneaker-embroidered tunic top” trio, which is rounded out with some serious flastastic diamond-encrusted bling. (especially in the wedding season months between November and early February)!

    …anywhooooo. Me on a flight? No bling for me. None. (I’m 25 and my mom still doesn’t trust me with valuables.) I wear jeans. And boots. And a big coat. And I’ve recently taken to carrying multiple pairs of fairisle knit socks from Uniqlo as I’m always freezing.

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  • Rita Bradshaw

    I think I should dress everyday as if I’m going to travel on a plane.

  • mlm

    black jeans with stretch, black long sleeved j crew T, crew neck cashmere sweater also black, gucci lug sole loafers with silver detail. Cashmere cape with ruffled edge as plane blanket and black leather blazer. Large carry on tote by chanel or LV.