How to Best Dress for Airplane Travel: Seven Tips

Plane travel today can make our lives so much easier. But it can also be a frustration when you are trying to determine what to wear for an airplane flight. Planes are notorious for fluctuating temperatures, sardine-like seating arrangements, long security lines, and other hassles. The savvy traveler learns to follow a few tips for ensuring more comfortable travel, particularly on long flights.

Follow these seven tips and you’ll notice the difference, too:

1. Dress in layers. If you’re flying from Maine to Miami in the middle of the winter, it’s hard to know whether to wear a parka or a sleeveless tee. The best way to deal with changes in the temperatures between take-off point and destination, as well as temperatures you can’t control on the plane, is by dressing in layers. Wearing several layers of lightweight clothing allows you to add or subtract layers as needed. Start with a non-bulky jacket or sweater. Under it, add layers as needed – a long-sleeved shirt, then a tank top, for example. Have one item that can serve as a cover-up if the plane is chilly. A sweater or shawl, for example, can then be removed and tied around your waist, shoulders, or even your carry-on luggage.

2. Dress for security. Be prepared for long security lines and plan accordingly when you dress. Rather than wearing shoes that lace up, consider loafers. Skip wearing a belt, as it will have to be removed. Avoid wearing items with metal when you can, from excessive jewelry to underwire bras – it will mean one more article of clothing or accessories to remove, otherwise. Don’t wear an oversized pullover garment that can’t be removed before going through the X-ray at a security checkpoint. You’ll end up going through a pat down if this happens.

3. Dress comfortably. Wear clothes that aren’t restrictive. For example, drawstring pants or ones with an elastic waist will be less restrictive during hours of long sitting than ones with a fitted waist. Choose soft fabrics such as cotton, rather than denim, for pants. Natural fabrics will “breathe” better than polyesters and other man-made materials. Always wear comfortable shoes. Feet tend to swell during air travel, and now is not the time to wear a new pair of shoes that hasn’t been broken in yet or a pair of stiletto heels. For the same reason, avoid tight socks or pantyhose. Carry on a pair of dark sunglasses – they not only hide a multitude of sins, such as tired eyes; they also make it easier to catch a quick nap on the plane.

4. Dress neatly. Select clothes for travel that are made of wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Avoid clothes that are too bulky or baggy. Your first impression at the gate shouldn’t be one of sloppiness. If you’re wearing business attire, remove your jacket and fold it over the seat during travel to reduce wrinkles. Ladies, if you have long hair, consider a simple ponytail or braid to tame unruly hair – particularly if you nap along the way!

5. Dress for safety. Although airline travel is safer than your everyday drive to the grocery store, be prepared for safety risks, as you have little control over what happens once you board a plane. To be prepared for any eventuality, start by wearing the right shoes. Avoid open-toed shoes or flip-flops and choose closed-toed, sturdier ones. The use of lightweight, layered clothing will provide not only comfort benefits, but safety ones, in the event of an emergency landing that involves fire or water, when items of clothing may need to be removed quickly.

6. Dress casually. Even if you are on a business trip, don’t dress up for air travel. While you are on a long plane ride, you are subject to wrinkled clothing, coffee spills, snagged pantyhose, and other indignities that can take away from your professional polish when you land. Besides, business attire is just not as comfortable for long trips. Instead, pack your business attire in a carry-on, and make a quick change in the airport when you land.

7. Dress for your seatmates. Be a considerate traveler. Since you are sitting at such close quarters to total strangers, don’t introduce yourself with overpowering perfume, hair spray, or aftershave, bulky clothing that overflows into others’ seat areas, jangling jewelry, or other accessories that can be an annoyance. It goes without saying, but board your flight with freshly laundered clothes – and body. Your seatmates will appreciate it.

By following these few simple tips, your next plane trip will be a simpler, safer, and more comfortable one.

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