Fashion is a factor that is often overlooked while traveling, but it can be just as important (if not more so) than remembering to pack your sunblock or how much spending money you take with you. What you choose to wear while traveling – and this goes for your plane attire as well as your actual holiday clothes – should stick to two key descriptions: comfortable and modest. And when it comes to female fashion choices, these considerations can become even more significant.
What is and isn’t appropriate clothing while globetrotting will obviously differ from place to place so it’s always best to do your research before traveling, but as a general rule, female jet setters especially often need to be careful about their style choices so as not to offend different cultures and traditions while abroad. Wearing revealing outfits or clothing with obscene language or imagery, for example, could cause offense to local attitudes and religious beliefs.
As for choosing your airport wardrobe, it's always good to choose comfort over most other things (especially if you’re catching a long-haul flight), but this isn't to say cabin-friendly comfort needs to look drab. Look to the celebs for both stylish and practical flying gear and for everything else, just be sure to do your homework before take off! From the airport to your destination, here’s a brief guide to the kind of clothes you should probably avoid wearing and 12 that are totally fine.
24 Only Wearing Ripped Jeans While Abroad (No)
Frayed and distressed looking jeans may be a hot trend in most parts of the western world, but before you pack every pair of cold-knee jeans you own for your trip abroad, you should probably keep in mind that – in some places – this isn't a good look and depending on the context, it can even be viewed as a sign of disrespect and dishonor.
Jeans of all styles and trends are so widespread now that they no longer alert ‘obvious tourist’ to locals, but if you happen upon a mosque or similar holy site in frayed and ripped denim, it may be frowned upon and may even be seen as a mark of your disrespect. So if you have made travel plans for somewhere like India or a country in the Middle East, be sure to pack a wider variety of trousers than just your go-to ripped skinnies.
23 Wearing White On The Plane (No)
If you can help it, try to leave all your white outfits packed until you get to your destination and hit the beach. No matter how cool, crisp and vacay-ready wearing a pristine white dress or pair of pants makes you feel while traveling – it’s a big no-no on the plane (for obvious reasons!). Many celebs have been spotted at the airport in white playsuits and ripped skinny jeans, but don’t take your cue from them – they probably have two assistants with them with emergency ‘replacement clothes' in their carry-ons.
Before you even get on the plane and risk spilling drinks or your in-flight meal on your attire, spending hours in the airport checking in your luggage and waiting around could also result in your clothes getting dirty somehow. If not – please tell us your secret!
22 Choosing Quality Comfort Knitwear (Yes)
There’s nothing worse than settling down in your plane seat only to realize that the pure wool jumper you have on is so much itchier than it was in the airport and worse still, you have no other change of clothes for another few hours. We’ve all been there – picking something cute to wear for a day of traveling without really considering how comfy this is still going to seem later on in the day, and knitwear is the worst for this.
No matter how good it looks on you or how perfectly it matches with the rest of your ensemble, an incredibly scratchy sweater or cardigan is no fun for flying. If you love your knits while on the move, at least make sure you wear a quality one. If you have a pricey cashmere jumper lying around but couldn't justify traveling in it, now’s the time to crack out the super soft knitwear.
21 Flaunting ‘Flashy’ Jewellery (No)
Going heavy on the jewelry does you no favors while traveling anyway, but opting to wear big, bold ‘flashy’ jewelry can make you a target for thieves, so it's always a good idea to go for more modest pieces. By ‘flashy’ jewelry, we mean the kind of dangly earrings and necklaces that make you light up like a Christmas tree compared to the other people in line for security.
You might imagine that sashaying through the airport in all your finest gems makes you look like Grace Kelly, but the reality of making everyone wait while you unclasp and unhook every last bit of your bling is a little less glamorous. Even once you get to your sun-drenched beach holiday, bold ‘look at me’ earrings may only invite unwanted attention, so your valuables are probably best left home and safe.
20 Wearing Patterned Skirts/Dresses Instead Of Plain (Yes)
This might seem like an odd outfit suggestion – why should the pattern of your clothing matter? Trust us, it does (especially if you’re planning a long-haul flight). Itching to wear a summery dress or maxi skirt on the plane to get you in the holiday mood? Just make sure it isn’t in plain or block colors first. Sticking to patterned material on the bottom half of your outfit is always going to be more forgiving than plain clothing since it won’t show up creases (and more importantly – stains).
If you’re jumping on a short flight, you may be able to get away with plain, light colors, but ask yourself this: do you really want to be stuck wearing a creased and dishevelled outfit that you can’t change out of before boarding your 5 hour flight (even worse if there’s a massive ketchup stain thanks to the toddler who sat next to you the whole journey)? We thought not. Stay patterned. Stay sane!
19 Wearing Heels And Strappy Sandals (No)
It’s nice to get into the holiday mood with your airport style and feel ready to step off the plane in your brand new summer wedges or gladiator strappies. They look better than trainers, we get it. But your poor feet won’t thank you for it and if you’re not careful, you may be spending the first day of your holiday treating blisters by the poolside. Yikes.
Sneakers or zip up boots are a better choice since they’re relatively easy to take off in a hurry when going through airport security. Also, opting for closed-toe shoes lets you wear socks or tights to protect your tired tootsies walking around an airport for hours on end. Socks also make things more hygienic than being barefoot while waiting for your shoes to be scanned!
18 Dressing Modestly And Covering Up (Yes)
When you’re headed to a blistering hot country, keeping cool while dressing in a modest, dignified way is always a good basic rule to lie by when traveling. However, this becomes much more serious when you arrive at your destination as – depending upon where you’re headed – wearing revealing clothing could get you more than just the wrong kind of attention from guys, it may actually lead to serious trouble.
In Middle Eastern countries especially, women should avoid any kind of outfit that reveals too much of their legs, cleavage or midriff. So if you’re planning a trip to this part of the world, this means things like mini-skirts, tank tops, bralettes, crop tops, shorts and short dresses are out. To keep cool without causing the locals to lose theirs, opting for free-flowing maxi skirts and dresses instead and stick to cool linen trousers to stay comfy.
17 Wearing Complicated/Chunky Belts (No)
Belts might look cute on jeans or cinch in your dress, but they’re no fun while actually traveling to your destination. If you plan to wear one, just be aware that 9 times out of 10, you’ll be asked to remove it at the security line in the airport, for it to be scanned so as well as causing you unnecessary hassle, it also means you’re wasting the time of the people behind you who may need to catch their plane as soon as possible.
We understand belts are needed to hold some types of jeans up, but to save yourself the effort of unbuckling (and avoid the leers of your fellow travellers), try to leave all outfits requiring a belt in your suitcase and opt for something that cinches in at the waist anyway, like some trendy palazzo pants or culottes with a drawstring design.
16 Wearing Bold, Bright Colors Everywhere You Go (No)
It’s natural to want to wear bright hues when you’re on vacation – a holiday is the one time most of us feel comfortable in a colorful wardrobe. But before you break out the Hawaiian shirts and vest tops in every color of the rainbow, you should probably keep in mind the location you’re traveling to. The rule of ‘do as the locals do’ applies to quite a lot of stuff when you’re abroad and this is especially key when it comes to fashion choices.
Ensure you check out the specific customs and traditions of your intended location before you check in at the airport because you could be in for a nasty surprise once you arrive. Some places may have more conservative dress tastes than you may have anticipated, so turning up in a bright orange dress amongst neutral and monochrome styles will put the tourist spotlight on you like nothing else.
15 Dressing ‘Office’ Smart For The Plane (No)
We understand that not everyone is traveling for pleasure. Many can be headed for an important business conference in another state or may even be flying out for a job interview abroad. If this is the case, it might be tempting to save yourself time by traveling in your office suit, but no matter how short your flight is, this is probably the worst thing you can do.
A freshly-pressed blazer and skirt might look impressive when you leave the house that morning, but it won’t leave such a good impression after a couple of hours on the plane has left it creased and messy. Also, dressing for the office sometimes means teaming a pantsuit or dress with high heels (not to mention potentially laddered pantyhose). No, no and no to dressing office smart when flying – this is what freshening up is for, people!
14 Donning A Comfy Blazer (Yes)
Layering up while traveling is a flyer’s fashion 101 – if you’re zipping between cold and sweltering climates, then relying on one staple airport outfit is bound to make you uncomfortable on one stage of your journey. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to layer, layer, and layer up some more so you can control your comfort and a well-made blazer is the perfect item for it. Like a cardigan but more structured, it’ll keep you warm while making you feel put together.
Layering up is sensible advice for both male and female travelers, but the difference is, men can go topless if the airport gets too hot and stuffy! Unless you plan to go through customs in a not so supportive bikini top, we’d recommend two or three layers to keep you as cool (or cozy) as you like.
13 Dressing In Overly Patriotic Clothing (No)
While taking a domestic flight, no-one is likely to bat an eyelid if you board the plane wearing the words “I heart NY” on your top or wearing jewelry emblazoned with the American flag. But wear these similarly proud and patriotic symbols abroad and you could raise a few eyebrows at best and at worst, potentially cause offense, so it’s generally not worth it.
Wearing the symbols of your own nationality and identity is a great thing, but it's all about context, and in the setting of traveling to a foreign country, even adding an American flag keyring or scarf to your handbag could be seen as an act of hostility depending on where you go. Be sure to brush up on the customs of your destination and try to be respectful of them.
12 Wearing A Pashmina (Yes)
If you’re not a fan of wearing something as heavy as a blazer or coat to keep warm on the plane, then a pashmina is easily the next best thing. Pashminas are one of the few accessories that also double up as a very practical plane accessory – a blanket. Most airlines provide blankets if passengers request to have them, but this way, you get to keep warm throughout your day of traveling, and look quite stylish with it too!
Pashminas are so much less bulky than a regular scarf and far more holiday appropriate as well, so you’d be mad not to travel with one, whether it’s your usual style or not. Keep one in your carry-on luggage – even if you don’t think you’ll need it – and you’ll be so glad you did.
11 Choosing A Loose-Fitting ‘Throw On’ Dress (Yes)
As long as you keep it simple and laidback, a dress can actually be a great look for plane travel, but some tend to bend the rules of what a ‘simple’ dress is. You’ll have likely seen celebs like Kim Kardashian followed at the airport wearing tight-fitting bodycon dresses that give the impression that they're headed for a swanky cocktail reception instead of a 2 hour-plus flight.
A proper travel-friendly dress should be closer to something like a t-shirt dress – loose fitting enough so that there’s plenty of giving for moving about but shapely enough that it doesn’t resemble a pyjama or nightgown piece. Ditch the figure-hugging frocks that you can’t breathe in and opt for a ‘throw on’ kind of dress instead. It’ll become your go-to airport attire before you know it!
10 Wearing Clothes With Lots Of Pockets (Yes)
If you’re a fan of cargo pants and military-style jackets with pockets galore, they needn't be there just to make a fashion statement. Anyone who’s ever flown before can attest to the importance of having more space for stuff when they’re bustling through the airport. Instead of holding up yourself and the baggage drop-off line before boarding, why not keep your passport and necessary info literally on you at all times?
It’s tempting to want to bury your passport and tickets in your purse or at the bottom of your handbag for extra security, but a buttoned-up denim jacket pocket or zip compartment in your chinos can be just as secure and a lot easier to access when the time comes. If you’re gonna go heavy on the pockets, free up some carry-on space and use them.
9 Dressing Up Sweatpants With Smart Wear (Yes)
It’s super important to be comfy when traveling, but keeping comfortable shouldn’t have to mean sporting a full tracksuit. Unless you’re one of those flyers who like to kill time in the airport gym in between flights, flying in sweatpants is neither practical nor hugely flattering. If you do plan to don sweatpants or a hoodie for your flight, just remember the golden rule: dress it up first.
Believe it or not, your comfiest pair of lounge pants can actually look sophisticated if you team them up with the right stuff. For those long commutes when comfort is key, try accessorizing your favorite sweatpants with a sophisticated fitted top or stylish jumper. Also, opt for a smart pair of boots instead of sneakers and you instantly have a more prim and proper plane outfit.
8 Making Jeggings And Super Stretch Jeans Your New Best Friend (Yes)
Comfy boyfriend style jeans and jeggings may be the enemy of the super fashion conscious out there, but when it comes to long flights - not to mention walking the length and breadth of an airport – they become your saving grace. Yes, skinny jeans may look good with most outfits, but so do jeggings, with the added bonus of a stretch waistband and material that actually gives when you’re up and about.
Dark wash leggings and boyfriend or ‘mom’ jeans are a safe bet since it helps to hide any rippling and puckering that might occur during a long wait in the terminal. It isn't just comfort that makes these a great flying fashion alternative – they’re actually better for your health too. Opting for looser fitting jeans as opposed to stiff, skinnies can decrease your risk of developing blood clots on long flights.
7 Choosing To Fly In Tight Leather Pants (No)
Do we really need to explain why this is such a bad idea? Leather trousers are one of those clothing items that looks good but maybe only feels good to be wearing for less than an hour. Any longer time frame than this and you’re kind of voluntarily torturing your legs. Flaunting your pins in leather skinnies might look good on a catwalk, but not so much at an airport - and definitely not on a flight.
If you really must be seen in chic leather trousers while traveling, then at least fake it by donning a pair of ‘leather look’ jeans instead. This way, you can experience all the comfort of a regular jegging or skinny jean material (don’t worry, we won’t tell) with a more premium outward appearance. #Havemercyonyourlegs
6 Ignoring The Dress Color Code Of Certain Cultures (No)
Did you know that being careful about the colors you choose to wear in some countries can save you a lot of humiliation (and even spare you from nasty insect bites)? True story. As we’ve already mentioned, sporting loud and flashy colors in certain countries can make you stick out like a sore thumb, but beyond looking out of place in a general sense, it’s good to know about the specific meanings attached to certain colors.
For instance, the color black is normally associated with mourning periods and funerals throughout most of the western world, but in many parts of Asia, this is represented instead in the color white. This is good to know if you’re strolling through China or Cambodia in a crisp, white summer dress. Also, it's interesting to note that blue and black is best avoided in central Africa, since this is bug nip for the large, tsetse flies in the region!
5 Going With An Oversized Coat On CBA Days (Yes)
For times when you’re traveling to a cooler climate (or traveling home after a long trip), it’s nice to feel you can let go of the need to look ‘fashion forward’ at the airport and just slum it out with a baggy, oversized coat. For those days when you simply cba anymore, get as close as you possibly can to a duvet day while traveling and throw your best chunky coat over the top of a less than stylish wardrobe choice.
A sharp-looking oversized coat is a wardrobe staple and will always look good, so as long as you have this cover-up, it kinda gives you a free pass to wear your favorite old sweater underneath or your worn-out tee. An added plus is that wearing your bulkiest item of clothing prevents it from getting scrunched out of shape in your suitcase and saves up much-needed space.
4 Wearing A Duster Cardi At The Airport (Yes)
Not a fan of shawls or oversized coats to keep you warm on long flights? Then you may want to invest in a trendy duster cardigan. The look of an ankle-grazing coat is a bang on trend lately and is a great way of adding a simple statement piece to an otherwise dull casual outfit. Duster coats and cardis are also thin and super lightweight too, making them perfect for rolling up and storing in your carry-on luggage for the flight.
Look stylish while walking through the terminal and once you’re on the plane, you can pull your trusty duster cardi out for a cozy blanket, as it gets chillier than you’d think in the plane cabin. It has so many other uses too - you could roll it into a makeshift neck pillow or into a log shape to provide extra lumbar support on a long flight. All hail the duster!
3 Flying In Shorts Or Hot Pants (No)
In states with warmer climates, most women living in the US don’t think twice about wearing shorts or even hot pants in day to day life whether they’re out grocery shopping or going to school. Naturally, it's also tempting to travel in shorts too, but this is a fashion traveling no-no for a number of reasons. Firstly, airports and planes can get cold, really cold and you’ll be wishing you had some jeans on when you’re shivering in the security line.
Second of all, shorts and hot pants especially tend to ride up (apologies, TMI) and this is no fun either while making your way through all the custom checks at the airport or sitting for hours upon hours in your cramped plane seat. Upon arriving, shorts can also be a big cultural no-no if you wear them any place other than the beach.
2 Wearing Compression/Support Legwear While Pregnant (Yes)
If you’re traveling while pregnant, it goes without saying that you need to be super conscious of your health while on the plane and this means taking extra measures to prevent deep vein thrombosis from setting in. Blood clots are easily developed while traveling by plane and when you combine a pregnant woman with a long haul flight, this can only increase your risk.
To ensure it doesn’t be sure to ask your doctor ahead of time about the possibility of wearing compression socks or similarly supportive legwear. This will help to promote your blood circulation and fight swelling so even when you don't feel up to stretching your legs along the aisle after take-off, this should guard you against the risks associated with DVT. Forget skinny maternity jeans, this is the best travel fashion accessory you need when you’re expecting!
1 Wearing Sport Team Colors Loud And Proud (No)
As with wearing anything that could be deemed overly patriotic, covering yourself in your favorite sports team colors is also a strong way to draw attention to where you come from. Again, this is largely dependant on where your chosen holiday destination is, but just to be on the safe side, it’s best not to rock the boat as it were, so always do your homework about cultural sensitivities beforehand.
Toning down your enthusiastic dress might sound like a kick in the teeth, but you shouldn't think of it as a ball buster while on vacation. Trying your best to blend in with the locals has its advantages in the long run since a more neutral dress sense will make you less of a target for pickpockets and allow you to become more immersed in the whole experience.
References: travelfashiongirl.com, smartertravel.com, refinery29.com, travelandleisure.com