Maybe I’m just old-school 😉, but I like to look neat and pulled-together when I travel. I also insist on comfort and practicality. Regardless of the destination, I have a few tried-and-true guidelines for what to wear for travel days.
Airport Style, My Way
Above: Tank | Tee (similar) | Scarf | Cardigan (similar) | Backpack | Pants | Shoes (similar) | Suitcase
As I do when planning a travel wardrobe, I’ll start with the shoes.
Though it seems to be required less often than a few years ago, the possibility of having to remove shoes while going through security keeps me away from lace-up styles. And I prefer shoes that provide some coverage and protection for navigating airports or other public spaces. (If you’ve ever had someone who’s not paying attention roll their heavy wheeled bag over your foot, you understand why.) And they should be comfortable and supportive enough for hours on your feet.
I often travel with ankle boots, but I understand that during warmer months that may seem like overkill. If so, I’d recommend either loafers or a slip-on sneaker. These styles are offered in multiple widths:
Naturalizer | Dr. Scholls | Munro (similar) | Naturalizer | Clark’s | Softwalk
Some people are always warm on airplanes…most of the time I’m cold. But it’s unpredictable, so I always dress in layers that can be added or removed as needed. For this reason, I like to keep my travel day clothing simple and close-fitting. No stiff or voluminous styles, and no flapping bits. I tend to stick with dark colors as they are less likely to show dirt or spills.
I usually travel with jeans, but I’ve stopped wearing them on flights. I know conventional wisdom says to wear your heaviest, bulkiest pieces to keep luggage light, but I’m willing to make that tradeoff to be comfortable on a long flight. I’ll usually wear either my Eileen Fisher ponte knit pants (during cooler seasons) or stretch crepe pants (during warmer ones). Both styles available in Misses, Petites and Plus. And here’s a cropped style with pockets! All knit pants will bag in the knees to some degree after hours of sitting, but I find these two styles do less than most I’ve tried.
Many of you have mentioned and recommend these ankle pants from Athleta.
Though I don’t wear them, skirts are another option. (I’d suggest bringing some tights or leggings if needed for warmth.) I’d suggest a knee- to midi-length style, in a wrinkle-resistant knit fabric, that’s full enough to not restrict movement. Here’s one with a nice asymmetrical hem, and a straight style in Plus.
I always plan to travel with at least three layers on top. I start with a knit camisole or tank as a base layer. Natural fibers will breathe and be more comfortable, so my favorites are these silk tanks (Plus).
Next I usually add a knit mid-layer top, usually in cotton, linen, tencel, wool, or modal, depending on the season. I find a top that’s not too snug, but that will layer easily underneath a cardigan works best. You could also opt for a lightweight button front shirt, if that’s a style you prefer. But be sure it will layer easily underneath a cardigan or jacket.
And even in the warmest seasons, I never travel without a cardigan. You can vary the weight depending on the season. I prefer styles that either button, zip or tie in the front, and aren’t too bulky.
I always pack a scarf in my Personal Item (the bag that goes under the seat in front of me), where it’s handy at all times. I like a style that’s large enough to use as a wrap, but not too big and bulky to wrap around my neck. Cashmere, or a cashmere blend is my preference for warmth without bulk, but if you’re sensitive to wool/cashmere products, you can always opt for something in a cotton, silk or modal fabric.
What items do you find work the best for travel days?