Figuring out what to wear when traveling is a balancing act, no matter where you’re heading. You want to be super comfortable (of course), but also look stylish enough that you’d feel presentable if you ran into a colleague, an ex-boyfriend, or maybe even a future boyfriend. Hint: Just because you’re traveling and want to be comfortable, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to wear your pajamas to the airport. Seriously, just don’t do it.
There are lots of other equally casual, but still presentable, options out there. Here’s our foolproof guide to airport style in four easy steps.
1. Never board an airplane without a large, cozy scarf.
Don’t even think about heading to the airport without an extra soft, cozy scarf. You never know when, and where, it might come in handy during your travels.
Use it as a blanket on the airplane when it’s freezing cold or as a makeshift pillow in a pinch. Toss it over your shoulders when you arrive for an effortless, but elegant, touch. Opt for solid, neutral-colored scarves—like black, navy, cream, or gray—in lightweight cashmere, which will match just about anything you bring with you. If you have room in your suitcase, pack one dark and one light scarf.
2. Knit cover-ups are the most essential piece of any travel uniform.
If you usually travel wearing a sweatshirt or a fleece and jeans, try a knit or cashmere cover-up instead. It’s just as cozy and warm as a sweatshirt, but looks much more put together.
Dress it up even more by opting for a cover-up with a little sparkle or fur trim. Layer it over a crisp T-shirt and pair it with jeans, and if you need another layer, sport it under a piece of sharp outerwear. The same cover-up can be worn on the plane, to and from your destination, and also throughout your trip over tank tops, dresses, and much more. This extremely versatile garment is a must-have travel item in our book.
3. Don’t overlook your shoe choice.
When you’re figuring out what to wear to the airport, make your shoe choice a priority. If you’re like us, you’re thinking of the shoe that would have taken up the most space in your suitcase, that’s in the comfortable category, and slides off fast enough to get through security, without holding up the line.
And while there’s nothing wrong with wearing a classic sneaker to the airport, upgrade your look to business-ready by focusing on its texture. For instance, rather than wearing a bright, bold-colored waffle-knit sneaker with jeans, try a low-top sneaker in clean black, white leather, or nude suede for a more polished look.
If sneakers aren’t your thing, a pointed-toe flat is our favorite, tried-and-true travel essential that can easily go straight from the plane to cocktails or the boardroom. You can wear them with jeans and a simple cotton T-shirt for the flight, and then swap the T-shirt for a dressier blouse or button-up shirt once you get off the plane to dress up the look.
4. Sunglasses fix (just about) everything.
You know how celebrities are always photographed leaving the airport in their sunglasses? It’s not just because they’re trying to be incognito or look extra glamorous. Sunglasses are the perfect way to hide the look of inevitably tired eyes after a long flight.
Pick a frame style that works well with your face shape and always carry them with you, either in your purse or travel bag. We suggest opting for something classic and not too wild for your airport sunnies. That way, no matter where you’ve touched down, your eyewear style looks fitting for just about any locale.
So if you’ve got a business trip coming up, or just want to prepare for the inevitable one on the horizon, keep these four packing tips in mind and you’ll be dressed for success—from departure to arrival.