Airplane Apparel: What to Wear on the Flight


I have heard so much conflicting advice about this and I have tried all the suggestions.  Most of them didn’t succeed. I mean really. “Wear flipflops. Never wear flipflops. Wear lightweight layers. Wear your heaviest garments. Wear a dress. Wear pants. Wear for the weather where you are going. Don’t forget you’re coming back to our weather.”  Why can’t the advice be consistent?

Admittedly, some of the failure is likely due to my own idiosyncrasies and flaws.  (I am a magnet for lint, I tend to get cold easily, I fidget endlessly, I often spill on myself, I have permanently sore feet, I want to carry a bag with books and knitting and don’t have room for carrying coats, etc. etc.) 

But still, all those articles giving advice on what to wear when traveling seem to forget to take some important things into account.  So here is my list of what I need to consider:

  1. The plane may be freezing (or more rarely, too hot).
  2. I may have to quickly remove my footwear while standing in a security line-up with people pushing behind me trying to keep the line moving.
  3. I may be traveling between very different weather zones.
  4. I will be squished into a very tiny area for hours.
  5. I might have to walk several miles in the airport.
  6. I will be carrying luggage so if I get hot and want to remove a scarf or coat, I need to be able to carry that too.
  7. I may not have access to laundry facilities on my trip so my travel outfit needs to look okay on the second wearing too.
  8. The plane might get delayed for a long time and I might have to live in this outfit for a couple of days in a row.

Every one of the above considerations has been prompted by an unpleasant travel experience that I have no wish to repeat. 

Some people have figured out a travel outfit that they find always succeeds for them on every flight.  I envy them.  I never seem to get it right.  If my priority was to look great, I could probably manage that (at least until I spilled something).  But I’ve been getting grouchier ever since my twenties, and I want to look good AND be comfortable. 

I haven’t got the comfortable part managed perfectly yet, but I am getting better at it.  Pull-on boots or low-heeled shoes, pants or jeans with spandex, a nice t-shirt style top and a below-hip-length jacket or hoodie (and possibly a scarf) are the basic elements of my best combo so far.  If I need to take off the jacket, I use the sleeves to tie it around my waist or sling it through the strap of my crossbody bag.  I have done this outfit in black more than once, because the damp doesn’t show as much after I sponge out the inevitable spills. And I try to make sure the fabrics are not lint-friendly, because, you know, airport carpets and upholstery…. When traveling to or from winter, I add a lightweight windproof jacket and thin stretchy knit gloves. It’s not exactly Arctic gear, but it gets me to the car. I don’t wear leggings or yoga pants, because they are too revealing for me, but they might be perfect for you.

I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself about this, since it has worked on more than one trip.  But I could get better yet. 

What are the elements of your best travelling outfit?