This month I am writing mostly from airports and hotel rooms, during a series of trips for both work and pleasure. As you guys know, I'm a big fan of keeping comfortable (especially when it's practical), but I also think there is something to be said for the concepts of "neat," "clean" and "well-fitting." Sadly, these concepts are slowly disappearing from the minds of travelers, being replaced with things like "baggy," "ill-fitting" and "pajama-like."
Am I perfect? No. Last March I flew back to Texas from Alaska in the throes of a killer flu, so I donned an oversized hooded sweatshirt (dangerous these days, I know) and sweatpants with my sneakers. I was a sneezing, coughing, runny-nosed, aching mess, but I was as comfortable as a girl flying 4,000+ miles with the flu can be. That said, most of the time I try to look presentable -- even sharp -- when I travel. How do you know you aren't going to meet a new client, a prospective love interest or a new friend along the way?
You can be comfortable and chic at the same time -- it's true. I swear. There is a happy medium between "sleepwear" and "Victoria Beckham" when it comes to travel attire. Let's look at a few ways to walk that tightrope.
Clean & Pressed
We all know that no matter how fresh you look when you start your journey, you will look rumpled at the end. That is no excuse to start off rumpled, however. Just iron your shirt, okay? And wear something clean, please! A few weeks ago I sat next to a guy who smelled like a laundry basket -- that's not something headphones can block out.
Dressing to the nines is almost as annoying to other travelers as when you look like you rolled out of bed. When I have to wait for someone to remove two dozen accessories to move through security, I wonder if they have ever flown before. If you have to go full-on accessories, why not put them all in your carry-on until you go through security? Then you only have to put them on once.
When choosing accessories, consider practicality -- for example, I love to wear a scarf on a plane, because I get cold easily, so I usually choose a pashmina because it doubles as a light blanket. I keep my jewelry (except my wedding ring) and belt in a pocket of my carry-on, and only put on said bling and belt once I've gone through the security line. I also try to skip shoes with lots of buckles, straps or laces. It's just polite.
Things I don't want to see in an airport/on a plane/at a rest stop: Boobs. Crotches. Buttcrack. If your pants are too big, buy new ones -- at the very least, buy a belt. If you are carrying a cross-shoulder bag and wearing a deep V-neck, I am going to see your breasts. If your skirt is too short to sit in, imagine the face-full of cheek I'm getting when you reach up to put your bag in the overhead compartment.
In short, wear clothes that fit. All the time. There is a special hell reserved for people who force us into voyeurism at airports.
So now that we've covered a few rules addressing some of my pet peeves, let's look at a few easy combinations for travel. Casual and comfortable, but still flattering, they disprove the assertion that one cannot be at once stylish and comfortable while traveling.
Keep it simple and functional. For shorter flights, comfort may not be as huge a factor, so maybe you don't have to be pajama bottom-comfortable. Try one of these:
J. Crew Cigarette Jeans in Classic Rinse Wash ($115) + Zara Top w/ Braided Collar in White ($29.99, sale) + Banana Republic Heritage Draped Open Cardigan ($89.50) + Banana Republic Monogram Plush Scarf in Chrome Gray ($89.50) + Cole Haan Air Bacara Ballet (Zappos, $132.99)
Same rules: Nice clothes, that fit well, are comfortable. So why not a polo instead of that ratty concert T-shirt with paint stains?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
J. Crew Broken In Classic Fit Chino in Graphite ($75.00) + Gap Solid Oxford Classic Shirt in New Blaze Orange ($49.95) + any pair of Classic Chuck Taylors (starting at $50) + Old Navy Men's Thin-Striped Zip Hoodie (starting at $25)
Undergarments and socks go without saying, right?
The take-away here is that a few extra minutes, and a little extra pride in our appearance, goes a long way. Be the change I want to see in the world. Thanks in advance!