I help my clients put together their travel capsules, which means deciding exactly what they pack for a vacation or business trip. What to wear on the flight itself is one part of the discussion. For short business trip flights, clients wear work attire that can take them directly to their first meeting. For short vacation flights, clients wear a casual or smart casual outfit that works for the setting of their destination.
Selecting what to wear for a long fight is trickier. I travel frequently, and most of it means spending between 6 to 14 hours on a plane. Over the years I’ve perfected what works for me, but it’s by no means a flop-proof formula. That said, most of my clients have adopted a similar outfit strategy so it might be helpful info for you too.
Comfort is key on the plane, but also while moving long distances in airports and dealing with public transport. So is feeling good about my appearance. I choose a casual, insulated and robust outfit with structure and polish in any colour palette. The outfit formula is the same despite the season or destination because long flights are invariably freezing and layers are practical.
Here are the components of the outfit formula:
I wear a very comfortable pair of blue jeans. Robust, forgiving, warm, versatile, and crease resistant. I’ll wear an invisible belt to keep my jeans up because they stretch out during the flight. I don’t wear leggings or Athleisure because the look is not my cup of tea. Dresses and skirts are too breezy and I can’t walk as fast in them. Some of my clients choose stretchy Ponte pants instead of jeans.
I always wear a camisole. All my bras are comfy so there is no need to differentiate for the flight. After that, I choose a fairly crease-resistant pullover, shirt or blouse in a fluid fit that is NOT white, and looks good untucked. It must have longer sleeves, and look polished. I don’t wear T-shirts, but have worn a striped peplum knitted top that worked well.
I add a crease-resistant denim jacket or blazer for warmth, structure and polish. I choose a style that is sufficiently comfortable to wear throughout the flight.
I choose a coordinating and very comfortable pair of flat booties, or fashion sneakers that I wear with socks or knee-highs. Foot coverage is important for protection and warmth. Absolutely no heels higher than an inch. I usually wear my heaviest shoes to save weight on the luggage.
I do not believe that slip-on shoes are essential for flights so that you can slip them on and off easily at security or on the flight. It’s much more important to wear the RIGHT shoes for the trip and flight. It’s a few extra moments to take off and put them back on. No train smash.
I wear a watch, wedding ring and specs no matter what. Sometimes I fly in my pearls.
Scarf & Wrap
I wear a scarf that coordinates with my outfit for warmth, interest, and chic. I pack a cashmere wrap in my hand luggage to wear as a blanket on the plane. That way I don’t need to use the blankets they offer, and I’m warmer and more comfy too.
I choose a large structured satchel in a neutral or colour. A large bag is practical because of the extra things I carry when I fly. It’s dressy and structured to create outfit polish. I don’t wear large crossbody bags, and casual bags are not my thing. I also carry the cotton drawstring sack that accompanies designer bags. I pop my wardrobe pet into it when it’s stowed under the seat during the flight to keep it pristine and clean.
I carry lots of extras in my handbag and hand luggage to ensure my comfort. A carefully curated bag of snacks, my Kindle, noise-cancelling headphones, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, lip balm, eye drops, chewing gum, hand cream, emergency medication, glasses case, and a small make-up bag. I pack a coat in my hand luggage in Winter so that I can wear it upon arrival.
I always style my hair, pack on the moisturizer, apply make-up, and spritz some scent like I do on any given day before I fly. I touch up before we land so that I don’t look and feel like a wreck. Fortunately, my short hair travels well so there is no need to pack a brush.
And last, I usually wear EXACTLY the same outfit on the flight back home, which keeps things simple and effective.