Next time you’re taking a trip, take a moment to look around the airport as you prepare for your flight. I love planning ahead for a trip and choosing the perfect travel outfit. It feels fresh and exciting, and I am not the only one. All over the airport you’ll see fellow travelers displaying their style, whether it’s comfortable sweats or glammed up maxi dresses. No matter your style, there are some flying fashion don’ts we should all be aware of.
Before choosing your travel outfit, think about what you’ll be doing that day. You will most likely be sitting in a tight space for an extended period of time, so plan ahead for that, and don’t forget the airplane bathrooms. Make sure to avoid any outfits that will be too complicated to get off and on in those teeny tiny rooms.
Cohost of Pop Fashion Kaarin Vembar recommended staying away from "anything that is very fussy. You don’t want things with lots of zippers, buttons, or something that has to be on you ‘just so’ in order to look proper," said Vembar. "You want to be able to be comfortable!"
Your favorite outfit
With Facebook and Instragram stories just begging to chronicle your trip, it’s tempting to break out a fabulous brand new outfit for your flight, but save it for the vacation.
"Never wear anything that if it gets spilled on, will supremely bum you out," relationship expert April Masini told me. "It’s very easy to spill or get spilled on when there’s turbulence and elbow-to-elbow seat mates. Of course, any spill on your clothing is going to be disappointing, but if you’re wearing something expensive, heirloom-valuable, or tough to replace or clean, leave it home or pack it."
The airplane is full of opportunities to ruin a nice outfit. Spilling drinks, rambunctious toddlers, and bathroom turbulence all threaten to destroy your perfect look. "Airplane turbulence and food and drink without lids make spills on your clothing a matter of time — not a possibility," said Masini.
When it’s time to get away for a Caribbean vacation, you’re usually so excited for the beach that you forget the airplane temperature. Try to save your resort wear for the hotel, and stick with layers on the plane. You never know how cool it will be, and you don’t want to be shivering all the way there.
"Planes have a funny way of getting chilly, so don’t wear something for hot weather, even if you’re traveling to a hot weather climate, without bringing layers to snuggle up in during a plane ride," recommended Masini. "Shorts and a sleeveless shirt with sandals may seem perfect and comfortable until the airplane interior becomes like fall or winter weather. Bring a sweater and socks, a blanket, or layers for plane rides." An oversized cardigan and comfy scarf could be life-savers.
Before you choose your perfect airplane outfit, take a good look at the fabric. Avoid anything scratchy or itchy, because it will start to bother you on the flight. Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson constantly travels for work and has learned to steer clear of uncomfortable fabrics.
"Temperature fluctuates on a plane, and heat and cold will sensitize your skin making fabrics like lace or wool even more uncomfortable than they typically are," Richardson told me. "Plus, when you are in a seat that might not have the most legroom, those fabrics become even more annoying."
When choosing your flying shoes, go for comfort over style. You never know how far away your gate will be, so make sure you are able to easily walk or run in them. You can always throw some cute heels in your carry-on if you’re hitting the tourist spots as soon as you arrive.
"It’s common knowledge that your feet will swell on a plane, so generally speaking, I like to avoid heels and wear shoes that are cute but comfortable, like a pair of mary-janes that have a good insole, or a pair of stylish sneakers," said Richardson. "I’ll definitely avoid any shoes that tend to already feel a bit tight because cabin pressure will only make it worse."
Be honest. Last time you had a 5 a.m. flight, you were tempted to just go in your pajamas, weren’t you? There is so much to do on the morning of a flight, so sometimes getting dressed just seems like too much work. However, you’re still going out in public.
"I know that airlines are such a pain these days, but dress up a smidgen," said Vembar. "It’s okay if you wear athleisure-wear, but think of your fellow passengers and try to put on a fresh set of clothes before you board."
If you’re going for a little sparkle in your travel outfit, make sure those dazzling little pieces in your sweater are not actually metal.
"This one is a bit of a surprise, but did you know that a number of sweaters that look metallic actually have metallic threads woven through the garment?" asked Vembar. "Not wearing this is more about the hassle you will get through security, because you will absolutely be stopped before you even make it to your gate." Save the sparkle for vacation, and go for easy comfort in the airport.
We’ve all sat next to that guy who put on way too much cologne before heading out for the day. Be mindful of your fellow passengers when applying your favorite perfume or lotion before your flight.
"Anything scented should be applied with a light touch," recommended Vembar. "This is being a good neighbor, because you never know what types of allergies people have around you. Plus, you can put more on once you get to your destination."
This was a suggestion I hadn’t thought of. When you travel, you need to be comfortable, so baggy or oversized clothing seemed like a good choice. However, it may also make you look a tad suspicious.
"Loose clothing will cause some delays because they think you’re hiding something under there," Tracy Edwards from AAA Travel Sales told CBS News.
As long as we’re packing away the summer clothes until you get to the beach, go ahead and toss your flip flops in your suitcase too. They are too flimsy for a full day of travel, and you’ll probably regret them at some point during your flight.
Aaron Hockel, who travels extensively for his business development role at AtlaVista Strategic Partners, said one thing he never travels in anymore is flip flops. "Let’s face it, airplanes can get very hot, and that means sweating. It is incredibly embarrassing to smell your own feet at the start of a five or six hour cross country flight with no options to cover them up." His go-to is running or athletic shoes. "They are comfortable and save space in my suitcase. I plan to bring them for exercise anyway."
Leggings lovers beware! They may seem like the perfect cute and comfy travel pant, but they could keep you from boarding your flight. United Airlines was recently in hot water for not allowing two teenage girls wearing leggings to board a flight. The girls were turned away at boarding, because the leggings did not comply with the airline’s dress code.
After the incident, United Airlines tweeted, "The passengers this morning were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel."
While the dress code was different for these teens because they were traveling on company benefits, fellow travelers and Twitter users were not a fan of this decision.
Check the dress code
If you are a firm believer that leggings are pants, it may be a good idea to just check your airline’s website for their dress code policy. You don’t want to be the next Twitter sensation being kicked off a plane.
Even if you disagree with the dress code, it’s not going to change for you, so be prepared. "In the end, the flight crew is in charge of the aircraft, and they have to make judgments based on what they think is going to create the safest and most comfortable environment for everyone on the airplane," Virgin America CEO David Cush told Fox News.
Go for comfort
So what can you wear on a plane? Make your style icon stylish comfort. It feels fun to dress up a little for your flying day. It makes me think back to pictures of the early days of flying. Men in suits and ladies in hats and white gloves looked so chic in their little airplane seats. However, make sure that your fashion is still comfortable.
"My go-to travel outfit [is] skinny ponte pants, a longer t-shirt, a cardigan or blazer, comfortable flats (either a chic sneaker or a ballet flat), and a scarf wrapped around my neck," Palepu said. "I also like a full monochrome look with wide-legged pants, matching t-shirt, and a draped trench all in the same color."
Take a look in your closet, and pull out your favorite easy pieces. "Maxi dresses are great when traveling to a warm location, topped with a denim jacket," said Palepu. "Just stuff the jacket in your bag and you’re ready to hit the beach!"
Don’t forget accessories too. Too much jewelry will hold you up in security, but a great scarf can keep you warm and looking chic on the flight. "I also love a nice soft scarf or shawl," said Richardson. "Not only do they make an outfit look sharp, but they also are helpful when you need to nap!"
Stick with layers
When planning your vacation wardrobe, focus on layers and options. You never know what the weather will be like at your destination, so it’s best to plan for a little bit of everything. You may even experience a little bit of everything with changing temperatures on the plane.
"Cottons and silks are your friend on a flight. They are soft, comfortable and breathable," Richardson told me. "Wearing layers means you can adapt to whatever the temperature on the flight is that day and throughout the flight. One thing I’ve noticed on my travels is that planes do tend to be a bit on the cold side, but you can never know for sure, so having layers is important."
Balance between comfort and style are key when preparing for your in-flight outfit, and this approach tends to work for the office. While similar fashions work for travel and work (especially if you tend to travel for business), there can be some major differences depending on your career. Read on to find out what the experts say about how you should dress for work — particularly, what you should never, ever wear.