How to Dress: Four Steps to Being Plane-Ready!

I’ve flown a ton in the last few months. Weddings, graduations, a work trip and a vacation. Some flights were international, some were in the US only.

Here’s the thing: I HATE flying. I do. I’m afraid to fly. The only thing I ever wanted to be on a plane was comfortable. Or so I thought, until I got puked on and had to wear that same outfit to a business meeting because the airline lost my luggage. It made me seriously reconsider my plane uniform of sweats.

Planes are cold, usually. Sometimes, the weather can vary dramatically from departure to arrival, like if you fly into a stopover where there’s snow, then land somewhere that’s 80 degrees and sunny. So, you need to be prepared for a variety of temperatures.

I finally realized that I should wear something that is flexible and could be a cute outfit in a variety of ways if I get stuck somewhere or my luggage does. Or I get puked on.

Here’s the other thing: If I felt cute and put together, I felt more confident on the plane. Less scared to fly, even. I’m not really sure why that is.

So here’s my 4 step style plan for dressing for a plane ride.

1. Wearing Lightweight Layers is the Key

I like lightweight layers for a few reasons: if you are going somewhere hot, you can easily pack them away in your carry-on once you are at your destination and no one will be the wiser.

I usually wear some kind of tank top or tank dress to layer over my leggings. The only pants I will wear on a flight. (See Step Two.) Then I wear a cardigan or sweater of some kind. This is where I try to bring in some kind of luxury: I’ll wear a comfy cashmere hoodie or a really soft jersey wrap.



James Pearce




2. Don’t Wear Jeans!

Here’s what I found does NOT work for me: jeans. Here’s why: I have to wear a belt with jeans because I don’t want to show my underwear in the back as I lift and lug my luggage around, take off my shoes at security, etc. A woman in front of us on our trip to New Orleans bent over as she put her carry-on luggage on the conveyor, and showed everyone her hindquarters. It was noticed, believe me, by everyone behind me. Wear a thong, I hear you saying. I don’t want to wear a thong on a long flight. Yikes. Here’s why I don’t want to wear jeans AND a belt. My usually normal stomach? Something happens to it in the air. I get super bloated. (Sexy, right?) So the waistband and the jeans create an uncomfortable situation.

I like to wear leggings on a flight and here is why. They are comfortable. They stretch if you get bloated on a flight. They can look like tights. They don’t show off your bum if you have to pick something up. I like to wear them with a long sweater or a dress. Also: JEGGINGS! I know leggings and jeggings are NOT PANTS, but, you know what? They are perfect for flying.



Victoria’s Secret

(I think all leggings are pretty equal, and you don’t need to pay more than $35 for a pair.)

3. Wear Comfortable, Warm Shoes or Boots

I also tend to get really cold feet during a flight. So flats or sandals are a no-no. I brought socks for a while and changed into them, but my shoes just took up valuable real estate under the seat. Boots: I tried wearing some cute, tight, fashionable ones. They nearly constricted my legs, and I was worried about DVT. So, I wear UGGS. I know. People HATE them, especially fashionable people. But for me, there is no more comfortable shoe for a flight. They aren’t tight on the leg, they don’t have a heel, they can easily be pulled on and off during security stops. They are WARM. Love. Them. I bring a pair of ballet flats in my carry-on to change into once I get where I am going, unless it’s cold.


4. Scarves are the Best

Now, the most crucial part: a huge scarf. A scarf does a lot of things. There is some research that your chance of getting a respiratory infection when you wear a scarf around your throat and chest is reduced. Also: It keeps you warm in that overly chilled plane air. It can provide a variety of functions: you can use it as a blanket, you can use it as a hood if your head is really cold. Plus, it can liven up your outfit with color or pattern or both.







Here’s how I go from the plane:


Sweater, James Pearce. Tank Dress, Old Navy. Scarf, Target. Leggings: Uniqlo. Boots: UGGS.

To a hot destination!


Dress and flats, Old Navy.

What clothes work for you when you travel? Do you agree with me about my jeans rule (I have a feeling that will be controversial)?


Filed under personal style, Uncategorized

8 responses to “How to Dress: Four Steps to Being Plane-Ready!

  1. Oh, you’re so stylish! And you have lovely long legs that look great in leggings. I have short stumpy legs and I love my jeans, so I almost always travel in them. They’re warm and comfy and not so low-cut that I fear flashing the other passengers when picking up my suitcase. (Also, a thong is not going to help in that situation. I saw someone – in an airport, as it happens -wearing too low-cut jeans and a thong, and I know it was a thong because I saw an acre of side-butt-flesh. Not a solution.)

  2. I agree with the layering. Two years ago when we went to Vietnam I wore a dress, with a cardy, and leggings and I actually wore my flats but I bought socks (didn’t think of the space issue!) then as soon as I got off the plane went to the toilets and delayered ready for the humidity of Vietnam which is still the most humid country I have ever been to. I couldn’t do uggs my feet would get too hot! I also couldn’t think of anything worse than a thong (or a gstring as we call it, we put thongs on our feet!!) on a plane and jeans are too rigid.

    I wish I had a fun holiday to look forward to but none for a while I’m afraid!

  3. When I was young we went on yearly trips from Hong Kong to California-a 22+ hour plane flight. I had a favorite outfit that I always wore, a dress with matching cardigan and leggings. Plus my most comfy shoes. I was so sad when I grew out of that dress, it was my comfy plane stand-by.

    My dad had one rule on the plane. First we were to give him our watches and then we were not allowed to ever ask how long we’d been on the plane or how far we had to go. If we did he’d remind us that we were set to spend the rest of our lives on that plane so we better make ourselves comfortable.

    Now I’m all about my stretchy yoga-like pants and cotton tops with light sweaters and Uggs. I love all the pieces you pictured here and I’d wear them any old day because my mantra is: comfort, comfort, COMFORT! I wish I could wear plane clothes every day!

  4. Great post. I agree about the leggings and I’m always freezing on planes, Uggs are a good idea. I also hate to fly, maybe I should take your advice and dress more stylish for that boost of confidence!!

  5. Chris

    I like leggings for flying. I also like my White House Black Market skinny jeans- almost but not quite jeggings. No belt required so that problem is solved but so comfy. No other jeans would meet the criteria. Always layers because I freeze. I could never wear uggs because I can’t wear boots of any kind, but comfy shoes are a must. Plus, I always, always pack a change of clothes in my carry on- even for a day trip because you just don’t know what’s going to happen- spills, airsickness,, and what’s worse than showing up at a meeting or a doctor or something dirty? Love the scarf idea I’m adding that to my next flight outfit because I too hate to fly.

  6. Ana

    I love the leggings & dress combo, too. I used to wear jeans for short flights (back when I had no “stomach” to speak of) & when leggings didn’t really exist—but always wore looser “pants” for longer trips, for comfort—I can’t sleep in jeans. I cannot wear boots on the plane, I do sporty flats with socks if needed. I still haven’t figured out the whole scarf thing. Don’t own one, and am frankly a bit scared, which is unlike me because I’m totally cool with fashion risks in general.
    I try to always tuck a very thin extra outfit into my carry on or even purse, often a jersey dress rolled up small, in case of getting puked on (or having baby poop on—it has happened to me) situations. Your story has reminded me to keep doing this.

  7. Your in-air outfit is very similar to mine. I agree on all counts…BUT…if a thong would keep you from flashing your arse in an otherwise risky situation, then you have a very very different arse than I do!

  8. Theft from checked bags: I am not sure how often the flight crew travels to developing countries, but I can tell you that theft from checked bags is a HUGE problem at many developing country airports. Nairobi is particularly notorious, and two of the last four times my boyfriend has traveled to to East Africa things have been stolen from his suitcase, including jeans and some very old sneakers (although to be fair some of the things may have been stolen in Rwanda rather than Kenya). So I don’t think you can make a blanket prediction that the new rule about not locking bags will not cause many problems.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s