What to wear on a plane?

Remember that scene in SATC when Carrie steps out in Paris all decked out? Or those ‘candid’ shots of celebrities at the airport looking immaculately put together in their “oh this? I just happened to throw this on” ways? Well, unfortunately us mortals barely have the money to fly half way across the world, let alone do it with sufficient baggage to look amazing, nor a private plane to use as our personal changing room. We! (mortals) have to fly Economy! (OH MY GOD!) and deal with crying babies, and people trying to cut across your seat to go to the bathroom, and lights that flick on and off in the plane when the flight attendants want them too. How could you even imagine?! that we would land looking pretty?

Why is it important to look good on a plane anyways? Three potential reasons

  1. If you ‘happen’ to be from a country on a watchlist *coughIslamiccountriescough* you most likely will be ‘randomly’ searched. Try to reduce this by not looking like a hobo
  2. If you’re single and available, you never know whom you might be sitting next to on the plane. You could maybe even throw in a “I’m Hugh Heffner’s son” in there
  3. If you want ANY chance of maybe getting upgraded (who knows, maybe it’s your birthday), dress like you belong in Business / First class. Or go to the other extremes, dress like a hobo and murmur some artsy fartsy stuff and see if you can pass off as a ‘celebrity’

DSCF0811(No way in hell was I getting an upgrade in what I was wearing)

Now, the question is, how do you do it?

I typically cut it into two parts. Flights <4 to 6 hours and flights >4 to 6 hours (putting my work knowledge into practice here)

For anything within short haul <4 to 6 hrs flight

  • I personally prefer jeans on these kinds of flights. They’re comfortable, thick enough to keep you warm, and likely to be the thickest clothing item in your carry-on luggage. Essential since I’m pretty sure for any short-haul flights, you tend to prefer carry-on luggage. Save some space and baggage weight. Wear your heaviest clothes
  • Balance it by a nice enough top. I tend to wear the one thing I probably need to iron. I iron it at home, wear it all the way in the plane to the destination, then hang it up so it doesn’t wrinkle. Especially if I’m not sure the place I’m staying at has an iron
  • As for shoes, again, I wear the thickest/ largest shoes I have. Which when travelling for vacation and short-haul flight (Do note that short haul also tends to be close enough destinations so you typically are doing a weekend trip) (am I right?) tends to be my wedges. Or boots, depending on the weather.
  • The last essential thing that goes with me on this trip would be a pashmina or a lightweight jacket (again depending on the weather). I get cold on planes, as I’m sure you do. And 4-6 hours especially on a budget airline may not be long enough to give in and buy their blankets. Be safe and bring your own

BCG Outing 2010 362(Silk top that I ironed, jeans, and a pair of wedges)

Anything within long haul >4 to 6 hrs

Ok, so this is where I say screw it all and I’m going to end up looking like a slob. Essentially you need something that you can move freely in, have your blood circulate, and comfy enough to help you sleep (since the seat alone would not be enough). You want something flexible enough, airy enough. Essentially you want your jammies. 

Fortunately for you! one of the spring/summer’s big trend are the pajama inspired clothes! Well, I guess except if you really don’t want to look like Hugh Heffner son. (Though reason two may still apply)

  • The closest I can recommend would be a long flowy top/ t-shirt (so you can move about)
  • A long maxi skirt or yoga pants (perhaps you were bringing it to do yoga and/or as pajamas)
  • Ballet flats that you can easily slip on and off (for when you want to attempt to curl up in your seat vs. walking to the bathroom)
  • As for essentials – pashmina/ lightweight jacket DEFF a must for me. This is where the blankets that they do give you isn’t enough to warm you up long haul. Glasses (I’m almost blind without my contacts, but try wearing a pair on a long haul flight where you fall asleep. Nightmare!), a small toiletries bag with toothbrush and toothpaste (essential especially if the person picking you up is a loved one) and small tube of moisturizer and chapstick since plane’s tend to be really dry and rough on your skin.

Aust 001(Lightweight jacket, long pants and a good book)

In terms of trying to look good in this though, just think of the short haul flights as cool and collected (who knows you might even have heels on!) and the long haul one’s as boho chic. Or you can always run straight into the airport bathroom to change before anyone snaps a ‘candid’ picture of you.


(Dress like Pamela or Jennifer, I’ll try not to judge)