If there ever was a peak to high fashion, it’s being able to pull off an haute look while you’re sailing through the skies in an airplane.
Aside from the clothes you pack in your travel bags, there are a host of factors to consider when deciding what to wear when flying. Your departure site, arrival site, and your agenda all come into play—not to mention how “up” for gussying up you’ll be if you have to heed an early wake-up call to make your flight.
That’s why we’ve put together this jet-set style guide to help you decide what to wear and what not to wear on your next flight. Whether you’re traveling for work, play, or leisure, here’s what to wear when traveling on a plane.
The Business Trip
When you’re traveling for professional purposes, it’s crucial to select an airplane outfit that will keep you looking presentable without sacrificing comfort. Sure you may have ideas of what to do on a plane to pass the time before you arrive at your destination, but do you know how to dress for the occasion?
Your best bet when picking travel clothes for work is to find clean-cut staples in a neutral color palette to help you make it through your travel day looking polished.
Crisp white oxfords and sleek tailored coats look sharp when you’re strutting down the street during rush hour, but even first-class cabins can’t save these staples from wrinkling if you spend a few hours squished into your seat.
Instead, we recommend:
- Cashmere – Cashmere is an unquestionably elevated fabric that keeps you warm and looking groomed all flight long. Opt for creams, camels, dove grey, or classic black—but if you shoot for a lighter hue, just be wary of spilling your in-flight beverage.
- Turtlenecks – Structured garments like turtlenecks lend an air of professionalism without you having to lift a finger. What’s more, a classic turtleneck could help your skin retain hydration and stay cozy when your neighbor has their AC on blast.
Pencil skirts and trim trousers won’t fare you well if you’re short on legroom.
Stay comfy and sleek with these alternatives:
- Wide-legged trousers – Skip the pinch-me-I’m-uncomfortable pantsuit and aim for a loose-cut pant option that won’t crimp while you’re seated. Wide-legged pants and trousers are making a comeback in a big way, and are less wrinkle-prone and more geared towards comfort. If you tend to run cold while traveling, choose cotton fabrics to help you stay warm.
- Hear us out—denim – A few decades ago, your favorite pair of jeans would be an absolute no-no when it comes to professional-grade plane travel. In the modern era, however, a flattering, forgiving pair of jeans can look even more refined than your average pantsuit. With sturdier fabric that’s wrinkle-resistant, opt for mid to dark-blue shades and avoid distressed looks.
We’d be remiss not to mention a work-trip hack every professional traveler should know: the travel steamer.
The steamer is your go-to solution if you need to refresh your airplane outfit or de-wrinkle your suitcase stash. Whether you prefer folding vs rolling clothes for packing purposes, having a steamer on hand is never a bad idea. You can pick up a mini-sized steamer to stash in your carry-on luggage and refresh any work look in the airport bathroom (if you’re really in a pinch).1 Just add water, wait three minutes, and voila—your mean, lean, HBIC outfit is revived.
Even if you hustled out the door, got held up at airport security, and barely made it to your gate before the final boarding call—beautifully-designed travel accessories will always elevate your look from stressed to sleek.
Skip the bulky, unstructured carry-ons and choose a design that’s structured and storage-friendly to stow your laptop, chargers, and whatever gadgets you need at your fingertips on your flight.
As for footwear? No one would fault you for wearing comfortable shoes. A shoe choice such as a pair of flats or loafers can get you through your travel day. But if you’re up for strutting through the airport in your most commanding high heels, you have our blessing.
The Ski Vacation
Going from business to brrr? Suit up, snow bunnies. We’re going skiing.
Let’s take a look at what to wear on a plane headed for colder climates.
Tops + Bottoms
Save the skinny jeans and tight trousers for another excursion. The only looks we want to wear in preparation for our hygge vacation are loungey, roomy, oh-so-chic streetwear.
With the ascent of streetwear and celebrity devotees from Rihanna to Gigi Hadid, it’s safe to say sweats have reached the hautest of high fashion ranks—and they’re ideal for the iciest of weather.
For a sleeker take on streetwear, we recommend sticking with a single color palette to rule out visual business. Manifest winter colors with ice blues, snowy whites, or even rosy-cheek pinks and pair with your favorite snow bunny hat to tie the look together.
If you’re heading for a winter wonderland vacation, outerwear is everything. Heck, some of us will even book a ski excursion just for an excuse to don our plushest and most luscious outerwear.
- The puffer jacket – No surprise here. Puffer coats are the warmest, most athletic style of outerwear out there, and their cushy fabric can be easily compressed and stored when you get on the plane. Plus, they’ll keep you extra warm from the airport to the lodge to the gnarliest black diamond on the mountain.
- The oversized teddy coat – If you have some wintry outings lined up for those glittering post-slopes nights, cozy up to an oversized teddy coat. Somehow this staple outerwear screams glam while staying undeniably snuggle-worthy. Plus, you can skip the in-flight complimentary blanket (if you can call it that) and swaddle yourself in your teddy instead.
Since ski vacations tend to require some voluminous outfit choices, lighten your load with a space-saving bag to store your essentials.
Choose a lightweight, water-resistant tote to keep your electronics safe in the winter weather. Bonus points if you can find one built to keep your essentials organized so you don’t have to ransack for your tiniest lip balm the moment your lips start getting wind-chapped.
The Beach Getaway
The balmy air, the salt-kissed hair, forgetting your troubles as the sun melts over the sea—there’s plenty to look forward to on a beach vacation.
Here’s what to wear on an airplane before you bid your clothes goodbye and live in your swimsuit for a week.
Tops + Bottoms
Depending on where you’re departing from—and how chilly the airplane cabin is—putting together a chic plane outfit can be tough when you're headed for the heat.
For some versatile options that work in all sorts of weather, we love:
- The jumpsuit – All hail the jumpsuit, an impossibly-chic and relatively recent wardrobe staple that (we believe) is here to stay. There are myriad designs out there, from cargo-inspired onesies to sleek denim zip-ups with a 70s flair. A quality jumpsuit will eliminate the need to fuss with your look while you’re on the plane, adapting to the weather before and after your flight.
- Sundresses – Oh-so-pretty sundresses are tailor-made for sunny weather (hence the name). For a fly-friendly option choose a maxi style with plenty of volume in the skirt so you won’t feel cramped in your seat.
- Crop tops – The closest thing to a bikini you can get away with on the plane. Crop tops have a rep for being racy, but when worn with a streamlined pair of bottoms (skip the slasher jeans, folks) and accessories, they look ultra-elegant. Be sure to choose the right fit—you want to look sleek, but too much pinching won’t feel good if you’re in for a long flight.
Above all, your best bet is to layer. Be sure to keep a sweater on hand; we love knit cardigans for their warm yet airflow-friendly texture.
Accessories + Outerwear
We recommend choosing an unfussy jacket, like a lightweight trench or a swanky wrap coat, so you don’t have to fuss with buttons to let in the balmy breeze once you arrive. In lieu of pockets, select a travel bag that can hold all your essentials for you:
- If you’re headed for an upscale resort, make sure your bag looks the part. Choose a travel tote with plenty of room for sunblock and beach reads, in a neutral color palette to go with every look you have planned.
- On your way to a slightly more rugged beach vacation? A convertible backpack is your go-to, especially if you plan on doing plenty of walking. Opt for styles with plenty of pockets to keep your possessions organized and easy to grab on the go.
Since a week’s worth of bikinis won’t absorb too much of your suitcase space, you can stash your coat in your luggage after you’ve retrieved your belongings from baggage claim.
What Not To Wear On A Plane
Still not sure what to wear on an airplane? Sometimes, the best way to choose your travel outfit is to operate by process of elimination.
Behold, our list of garments to skip for your upcoming plane trip:
- Tight jeans – Fit is everything if you’re planning to wear jeans on a plane. The last thing you want is to wear tight clothes that force you to spend your flight trying to discreetly dispense with a permanent wedgie, so save your hip-hugging denim for your arrival. If you want to wear jeans, go for it! Just opt for forgiving cuts (like boyfriend jeans) to wear while you fly.
- Fussy designs – Anything with too many buttons, zippers, or extra fabric are more hassle than they’re worth. Travel anxiety is real, and you have enough to keep track of (like, say, where you’ve stashed your passport) without having to worry if the belt of your wrap sweater fell into the airplane toilet. Choose simple, streamlined pieces while you fly.
- Short skirts – There are some obvious reasons why short skirts are a no-no on flights, but let’s stick with the most practical one: it’s notoriously difficult to regulate temperature on planes.2 Do yourself a solid, keep your legs warm, and reserve your miniskirt for your vacation’s first night out.
As for accessories? Leave your duffle bag in the sports closet and choose styles that help you look (and actually stay) organized. Even when you’re headed to the other side of the globe, if you can nail your accessories, you’re halfway there already.
Pilot Your Mile-High Look with BÉIS
Learning to dress for a flight is part and parcel with the art of air travel itself, but if there’s one department that can elevate your look, it’s accessories.
BÉIS designs are built to simplify travel while upgrading your wardrobe to first class—every time. Traveling can be stressful, but picking an air travel outfit that you love and feel comfortable in can help you start your day of travel with success. Shop check-in luggage, carry-on luggage, and the essential travel bags you’ll rave over at our online shop to bag your next look before you take off.
Burry, Madeleine. “The 8 Best Travel Steamers of 2022.” The Spruce, https://www.thespruce.com/best-travel-steamers-4154862. Accessed 10 March 2022
- Drescher, Cynthia. “The Real Reason It's Always so Cold on Airplanes.” Condé Nast Traveler, 10 Aug. 2017, https://www.cntraveler.com/story/the-real-reason-its-always-so-cold-on-airplanes. Accessed 10 March 2022.