In the last six years since I started travel blogging, I have visited over a dozen countries and about 40 states. That equals a lot of miles logged on airplanes from long-haul, overnight flights, to short hops. Over that time, I’ve come to refine my wardrobe of stylish travel clothes through a process of trial and error, every year coming closer to finding my ideal travel outfit to wear on planes.
So I’m going to clue you in on what I wear on the airplane, from the skin up, so you can start building your own travel wardrobe. These pieces have all stood the test of time and keep me as comfortable as possible in the less-the-comfy surroundings of an airplane.
Stylish Travel Clothes for Flying
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Travel Pants for Women
Many women resort to wearing leggings on the plane, and some can look quite stylish. However, if the athleisure look isn’t for you, my favorite travel pants are from Anatomie.
Anatomie makes a full line of travel clothing, with pants that are made from fabric that doesn’t hold wrinkles, rolls up super-small, and can be easily washed in a hotel sink and hung overnight to dry or blown dry with the hotel blow dryer. I own four pairs of these pants in various styles. My favorites are the Kate skinny leg cargo pant, Louisa skinny jean pant, and the Marisa curvy high-waisted travel pant. Although, I’m very tempted to get a pair of the Skyler fleece-lined travel pants for winter trips.
When figuring out what pants to wear on the airplane, think about options that offer the following:
- Pockets – for your phone, boarding passes, lip balm, etc.
- Stretch – especially in the waist and hips (you don’t want anything cutting into your belly when seated)
- Keep their shape – stretch is nice but not if you then end up with a saggy butt or sloppy looking pants
- Wrinkle-free – you want a fabric that doesn’t hold the wrinkles once you stand up and brush them out
- Minimal metal – I love the Marisa pants for travel, but not always for the day I’m flying because the slash pockets are fairly small and the fashionable chunky zippers tend to set off the metal detectors and I try to avoid anything that would result in having to get rescanned or patted down at TSA check points
Long flights are not great for our bodies. To protect against things like blood clots, we need to get up and move around, drink lots of water, and wear compression socks. I have tried a few brands and my favorites so far are from Comrad. They come in a convenient three-pack usually, which is good because I tend to wear a pair on the plane and forget to pack a pair for the return trip!
The Comrad socks come in different colors and they go on easy with a comfortable wear, versus some that feel like you need to break a sweat to roll them up your legs! Here’s a pro tip though, bring a back up pair of socks to change into when you reach your destination and need to let your legs breathe a little.
Even those of us that have TSA Pre-check (and if you don’t, what are your waiting for??!!) can benefit from slip on shoes. I like my Steve Madden black-quilted slip on sneakers. They are trendy enough to wear in Paris and versatile enough to work with many outfits.
This style also covers enough of my foot to keep my feet from freezing on the plane, and I can wear a large enough “no show” sock to add warmth and comfort – versus those that you need those tiny footies that always slip down. When I wear pants that are full-length, I can also wear my compression socks with these slip-ons without looking like a big dork.
Long-sleeve Soft T-shirt or Sleeveless Tank
I’m almost always cold on an airplane, even in the summer, so for me it is all about layers and soft fabrics. I like to wear a long-sleeve soft tee, so I don’t feel the blowing air on even part of my arms. My favorite is a black-and-white striped v-neck shirt that I got from StitchFix. Paired with my black Louisa pants and black Steve Madden slip-ons, it is stylish while being comfortable.
If I’m heading to a warmer climate, I may be tempted to wear a sleeveless shirt under my cardigan or another layer, so that when I arrive I’m ready to go without dripping sweat. I also usually keep a pair of sandals in my bag so that I can easily shed a layer, take off my socks, swap out my shoes, and be ready to greet the sun!
Bralette or Underwire-free Bra
I’m really tired of getting felt up by TSA agents and, let’s face it, those underwires are no fun after an eight-hour flight. For overnight flights especially, I always go with an underwire free bra or bralette. My favorite is the True & Co. Lift Scoop Neck Full Cup Bra.
While we are on the subject of our underthings, I’ve really fallen for travel underwear. Who knew there was such a thing? But there is and it can make such a difference for frequent travelers. It is very lightweight and doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase, plus you can easily wash it out in the hotel sink and hang it to dry overnight (unlike cotton that seems to take forever!)
I tried Tommy John underwear to start but wasn’t impressed with the quality (the waistband separated from the bottom after my first wear.) So now I’m trying out the Ex-Officio bikini brief.
Scottevest Travel Cardigan
The Scottevest Madeline travel cardigan has been my go-to travel accessory for a few years now. It is nice and long so provides some extra warmth to wrap around you and covers your tush if you are wearing leggings. The extra-deep pockets fit so much including water bottles, phones, passports, and just about everything you need easy access to on-board the plane.
Sometimes the Madeline can feel a little long and in those cases, the Maddie is the perfect option. This version offers the same features, just without the extra length. Just keep in mind that the fabric is comfortable but still thin cotton so if you are traveling in the winter months, you probably want to grab one of your sweater swing cardigans or dusters (with pockets!) instead.
If you want a versatile, lightweight jacket that is stylish enough for posh urban exploring, I would recommend the Anatomie Travel City Slick jacket. It is mid-weight so it is easy to wear or store on the airplane and offers waterproof technology and a light fleece lining to protect against the elements. I like the wide collar that can be zipped up to protect against the wind.
This jacket has served me well in Iceland, Banff, and numerous other trips when a down jacket wasn’t required by I wanted something my stylish than a sweatshirt and heavier than a rain jacket.
Scarf / Wrap
For overnight flights, I always make sure to bring a nice soft, but warm scarf or wrap that I can tuck around me like a blanket. I pick one that works with my travel wardrobe color palette so I can also use it as a wrap on cool evenings or throw it around my shoulders over my coat as an extra layer of warmth.
Carry on Tote or Backpack
The thing I have struggled with more than stylish travel clothes is the perfect carry on tote that I can use as my personal item. It needs to fit under the seat, since I’m usually flying carry-on only and have my roll-on suitcase up above. Yet it also needs to have room for everything I need access to in the flight. This typically includes my laptop, TSA-approved bag of liquids, a camera, my wallet, wrap, phone, charging cords, and other essentials. Sometimes this might even include other camera equipment or accessories so it needs to be larger than a purse, but I also don’t want something that is going to give me a neck ache. After MUCH trial and error, I have come to prefer the following two options.
Delsey Paris Chatelet Soft Air
I bring this tote Delsey Paris Chatelet Soft Air tote when I can slip it over the handles of my rolling carry on so it doesn’t hurt my shoulder. It is also perfect for business meetings or conferences where I want to have my computer with me during the day. It fits perfectly under the seat and has room for a 15” laptop, tablet, camera, and all the other items I would typically bring on the plane, even an outfit change if I am checking a bag and worried about lost luggage.
When I want something a little less structured and roomier, or if I’m checking a bag, I prefer the Tortuga Setout Backpack. This backpack doesn’t hurt my neck and shoulders like standard shoulder bags but it still has a slim profile to fit under the seat. The main storage area is unstructured but can pack like a suitcase. There is also a roomy laptop sleeve section that could also fit files, notebooks, a tablet, or other flat items. Best of all, it has a water bottle pocket on the side!
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