Dress in simple, solid dark colors to avoid attracting a spilled cup of airline coffee
Pick pants or dresses that stay put without a belt
For the sake of your fellow travelers, please no pajamas, tracksuits or cutoffs
With travelers getting into trouble as they board planes wearing lingerie, T-shirts with curse words and pants hanging around their ankles, New York City’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has inspired us to turn to veteran fashion experts for an enlightened perspective on in-flight apparel.
Unlike fashion-stunted commoners who complain about leaving the belt, the boots and the heels behind to clear security and board a plane, these trendsetters view the Transportation Security Administration’s rules and guidelines as a challenge to be met with an excellent ensemble.
Never mind the extravagant fashion they pack in their carry-ons and checked baggage, here’s what these high-flying fashionable travelers recommend for the actual flight.
Keep in simple: The designer’s perspective
Designer Carmen Marc Valvo cannot stand the hassle of removing everything when he goes through airport security for at least eight to 10 personal appearances each season and four overseas trips per year.
That’s why he usually wears a lightweight solid color T-shirt, lightweight sweater and comfortable jeans or black pants that fit well enough to not require a belt. Depending on the season, he’ll wear nice flip-flops or boots he can kick off easily. He always wears his jacket so he doesn’t have to pack it.
For women, he recommends a pants outfit or “a dress, nothing too fitted, with a little sweater around your shoulders and a pair of cute little shoes.” If you must wear jewelry, he pleads for you to take it off before getting to security or wear some lovely, nonmetal retro jewelry.
“Comfort is definitely key, but it’s very easy to look good on a plane,” he says. “Dress all in black or in (other) solid and neutral colors. You don’t have to dress it up. Keep it solid and keep it simple.”
His fashion don’t: “Cutoff sweats are even worse than sweats. They’re fine at your house but not on a plane.” And fashion sins aside, wearing your jeans too low with your underwear showing is likely to impede an air traveler’s mobility.
Casual and put together: The model’s advice
Model Amy Lemons flies almost every other week to Europe for work, and she appreciates people looking nice on her flights. “It’s important to look put together even in a casual way,” she says.
“I don’t wear anything tight because I usually sleep, so it’s lightweight cotton dresses from the Gap or Zara” or comfortable capri pants, she says. “I usually wear Toms or some other kind of slip-on shoes. I never wear heels on the plane! Or belts.”
Her fashion don’t: No sleepwear. “I understand wanting to be comfortable, but you are not in your house.”
Layering for the weather: A creative director’s take
There’s no need to freeze for fashion’s sake.
“A layering piece like a cardigan is a must as you never know how cold the cabin will be or what the temperature will be once you arrive at your destination, says Simon Kneens, creative director of Banana Republic.
“Make sure to avoid clingy pullovers and opt for a button or tie-waist cardigan to speed up the security process,” he says.
Designing new uniforms for Virgin America this year has inspired him to keep traveling in style.
“While I always pack travel essentials like our noniron shirts to avoid wrinkles, I’m now extra conscious of throwing on a chic trench and luxe cashmere scarf to tie the whole look together in a comfortable fashion.”
His fashion don’t: “I draw the line at loungewear or sweats.”
Don’t forget the face: Fashion editor and stylist
Fashion editor and style expert Jacqui Stafford wears barely any makeup when she flies – what’s the point? But she steps on board with her face clean and some lip-gloss because her lips can get dehydrated.
Stafford, whose book, “The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget,” will be released next year, may carry some face cream and Neutrogena wipes to refresh her skin. And when she lands, she always uses Talika eye decompress pads to cool down her eyes and make her look refreshed.
Her fashion don’t: “People are still wearing horrible baggy tracksuits. When these people travel, they think they are invisible. They think they don’t have to make any remote effort to look stylish.”
Never, ever wear white: The fashionable flight attendant
Take it from Tracy Christoph, a Boston-based JetBlue flight attendant.
“Never, ever wear white,” says Christoph. “Traveling can be a long and arduous affair, and white clothing is never easy to get clean if there is a spill.”
Nor is wearing linen a good idea.
That’s best worn “straight out of the closet and for short periods of time. You want to look tidy after a flight and ready for your destination, not wrinkled like you just woke up in your pajamas.”
Do you have an in-flight uniform? Are you concerned about looking presentable or is comfort king? Share your travel wardrobe tips and experiences below.