What to Wear on a Plane to Travel in Style

Have you ever been so busy with last-minute packing that you forgot to figure out what to wear on the plane?  If you’ve had it with rushing off to the airport in uncomfortable pants and a frumpy top, then you’ll love these easy ideas for how to travel in style. Here’s what to wear on a plane to look cute and feel cozy.

What to wear on a plane Travel - Red and White Stripes

1.  Wear Comfy Pants

When it comes to travel outfits, the number one thing consideration is pants.  When you’re going to be sitting for hours in a cramped airplane, you need to make sure you are wearing soft, comfy pants that are a little bit loose or have some good stretch to them. There’s nothing worse than stiff, tight pants that squeeze your thighs and dig into your crotch as you sit stuffed into a tiny seat.

If you want to wear jeans, then the best kind is those with a relaxed boyfriend cut, or if you like skinny jeans, be sure they have some spandex in them.  When your pants are too tight, and you are sitting for a long time, you run the risk of getting Deep Vein Thrombosis – blood clots in the leg, which can lead to sudden death.

Compression socks can also help keep the blood flowing and improve circulation. This cool portable footrest also helps.

Another option? Casual, loose, silky wide-leg pants in a cute print worn with a stretchy colored t-shirt.

What to wear in a plane ride - Travel - Leggings

2. Leggings are Ideal for Planes

Leggings are my favorite things to wear, especially on long flights. They’re soft, flexible and you can even buy the kind that wicks away moisture and let your legs breathe. Just be sure they aren’t flimsy, and wear them with a long top, tunic, or a short dress that completely covers your bottom and partway down your thighs.

It’s only polite in such a crowded space that you cover up a little, and a longer top creates a more flattering look too.


What to wear on a plane ride - tops with long sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves

3. Choose a Relaxed Top

A soft, light top is what you need to feel comfy and stress-free. It can be cotton, silky material, or a thin knit. The only thing to stay away from is any top that so crisp it wrinkles because it is guaranteed to get wrinkled!

I like tops with long sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves because I find airplanes can get very cold. If your body temperature fluctuates between chilly and burning up because of midlife hot flashes, then layering a camisole under a longer sleeved top is a good idea.


What to wear in a plane during summer big scarf or a light cashmere wrap

4. Never Board a Plane Without a Scarf, Wrap, Jacket, or Cardigan

Hot flashes aren’t the only reason to wear layers when you are traveling on a plane. Many other conditions are out of your control, which can make you feel overheated, like being delayed for takeoff and having to sit on the runway for an hour! On the flip side, it can be hard to get rid of that deep-seated chill you often feel on a plane when the air conditioning is blasting, and the airline blankets are as thin as toilet paper.

I find a big scarf or a light cashmere wrap essential. I always take one. You can layer it over your top or use it as a blanket. When you don’t need it, roll it up into a pillow, use it as an eye cover when you sleep or toss it into your carry-on. A long cardigan is good too, or even a thin, light jacket works well.  A boyfriend jacket is ideal because it is soft, slightly oversized, and meant to be rolled up in the sleeves.


What to wear in a long plane ride - cute flats, sneakers or low wedges

5. Ditch Your Heels

The amount of walking you have to do in airports these days is crazy. Can they make the walk from the ticket check-in to baggage drop off, to the customs, then security, and finally to the plane any longer?

It always feels like a marathon, and I don’t think there’s any sense pretending we can do it in heels anymore. It’s just not worth it to hobble along in pain and wreck your feet. There are too many cute flats, sneakers, or low wedges out there these days for that.

Travel - Denim Jacket Pink Top - What to wear in travel

6. Closed Toe Slip-on is Best

Did you know that closed-toe shoes are the best kind of shoes to wear on a plane?  A flight attendant once told me that in an airline emergency like a fire or crash, closed-toe shoes make it easier to escape because they protect your feet from the fire and falling debris. No one likes to think about these things, but it’s true!

There are other practical considerations when deciding what shoes to wear traveling. Slip-on flats or sneakers are the easiest to remove when you have to go through airport security. However, you know us, gals. Sometimes style trumps practicality.

If you’d rather wear sandals than sneakers or ballet flats, be sure to pick sandals that you can easily wiggle your foot in and out of.  Bring socks if your feet get cold on the plane.


Travel- Dark Attire - What to wear in travel

7. Dark Colors Are Easier to Travel In

Dark colors and neutrals are popular for traveling because they don’t show the dirt as much. Airplanes are tight, crowded spaces, and you do have to be careful. Some people find it impossible not to spill stuff or rub up against something that gets their clothes dirty.  Dark colors help you travel with young kids, who often spill drinks on planes or even throw up!

I like to wear neutrals with a pop of color, like a bright top. That’s more, my style. Happy colors make me feel like my vacation is already starting. On short flights less than 3 hours, such as Florida, I will even wear white jeans.

I think a lot of the fear factor about white pants is in your head. When I’m on a plane, I don’t find that white gets any dirtier than any other color. But that’s me. If you are worried, stick with darker tones.


8. Take a Bag that Gives You Freedom

There are two ways you can go here. Many women like an efficient crossbody bag with a long strap that leaves their hands free for suitcases and carry-ons.  I prefer a big lightweight tote.

My kids and husband always ask me to carry their keys or sunglasses, gum, or whatever, but I have stuff I need to carry, too, like my earphones and magazines. I need a lot of space, so I take a large, lightweight tote with everything in one spot. That’s much better than carrying my purse, plus many little small things in small bags.

Finally, I’d suggest you stay away from bags or accessories with hardware such as studs and chains. They can weigh down a purse – too heavy, and you want to travel light. Also, you don’t want to be swinging them around in a packed plane because the hardware may get scratched, or worse, you could knock someone out!

What to Wear on a Plane in Summer?

Summer is when most people travel by air. It’s hot, and there’s more flexibility as to what you can wear. For example, you could also try…

Maxi dress: A long comfy maxi dress with a layering piece, like a jean jacket,  can work.

Shorts: I wouldn’t recommend them, but if you want to wear them choose longer Bermuda shorts to keep your legs warm or capris.

Sundress: On short flights  (i.e., 1.5 hours or less), I have worn a soft, loose cotton dress with 3/4 length sleeves and sneakers. It’s always fine,  but pants are the best for any flight for both warmth and safety.

Cropped Pants/Capris: If long pants feel too hot in summer, cropped pants or capris that hit just above the ankle to midcalf are great options.

Here are some cute travel outfits to inspire. Have a good flight!


Loose Boyfriends Jeans and a soft, comfy top

Loose Boyfriends Jeans and a soft, comfy top



A soft, stretchy jumpsuit

A soft, stretchy jumpsuit



Pants and a tunic


Bring a jacket!

Bring a jacket!


Joggers are comfy, and a long cardigan is suitable for layering!


Joggers are comfy, and a long cardigan is suitable for layering!


P.S. Wondering what to wear on a long plane ride to Europe? Check out these stylish euro chic travel looks.

Tags: What to wear when traveling on a plane, what clothes to wear on a plane, what is a good outfit to wear on a plane

Join the Conversation

28 thoughts on “What to Wear on a Plane to Travel in Style

  1. Great article, except I have one correction: point 2 – “It’s only polite in such a crowded space that you cover up a little.” Most men want to see a nice backside on a lady, moreso on a plane, so it’s ok to show your buttocks while wearing leggings. If you don’t believe me, ask any man on a plane.

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m sure some men would like it if you wore only a thong on an airplane (LOL!), but that doesn’t mean it looks classy or is appropriate. Thicker Ponte leggings that are more like pants can be o.k., but the light, thin ones some gals wear without a long top look like they forgot their skirt! Personally, I feel the airlines are letting anybody on flights wearing anything these days, even when it is so far gone it offends. Recently I’ve read about women boarding planes with very short cropped tops, almost like swimsuit tops, open front lace-up tops open down to the navel etc. I’d say, save that for the night clubs. Cheers, Deb

  2. After traveling this summer I found my perfect travel outfit & my flight must haves!! I always FREEZE on a plane! Sometimes to the point of unstoppable chattering teeth. I was on my way to a warm, humid climate so I didn’t want to wear anything bulky or unwearable for my destination. I wore a stretchy jersey maxi dress in a navy floral print, denim jacket, pashmina scarf gladiator sandals, and… wait for it… my slick fabric capri yoga pants underneath my dress! It was perfect!! I said “NO MORE COLD!!” With the extra layer of the capris underneath my dress, some fuzzy socks (enhanced with aloe to moisturize, because why not), my neoprene travel slippers for a walk to the lavatory, & some ThermaCare Heat patches, just in case the plane cabin was frigid. I was finally able to fly comfortably!! I also threw an extra t-shirt in my carry on bag, just in case my checked bag didn’t make it. I could use my capri pants at my destination as back-up PJ’s or as a 2nd casual outfit until my lost bag arrived!! Layer up ladies!!

  3. As someone who travels often, for both business and pleasure, these tips are spot on. May I add, as an interior designer, we have published posts about closets where we suggest that the very clothes you are recommending for travel are really our favs. With shoes, and accessories we can dress these up, down, around to suit the day. Simple concepts that can work for our homes too. I’m ready to be “real” all the time!-Laurel Bledsoe

  4. I’d be careful wearing any leggings that are SUPER tight. Your legs will swell slightly as you fly because of the altitude and that can make tight clothes pretty uncomfortable at 30,000 feet!

  5. Scarves are the BEST accessory for traveling by plane because they make casual outfits look a little more vibrant and “together” PLUS you can bunch them up into a comfy pillow or neck support if you want to nap en route to your destination. Two birds with one stone! Thanks for this post — lots of great ideas!

  6. I always travel with my longchamp medium tote and an “it” carryon size suitcase. My travel outfit consists of Talbots navy Dalton pants a navy Talbots tank top under a Tribal loose fitting navy and white long sweater. My Burberry trench is the only coat I take. Navy loafers are a good choice for easy to take off going through security. I take a camel pashmina for warmth on the flight.

  7. I also packed a pair of socks for the flight from Hawaiian sun to SD snow recently – but when I got on the last leg where I needed the socks, I found that one was in my carryon and the other was in my checked bag! Oh, well. :)

    1. If you are wearing sandals and you bring socks, I would also suggest taking a pair of very light fold up slippers. If you have to get to go to the bathroom, you just slip them on over your socks. You don’t want to walk on airplane bathroom floor in your socks- yuck! Cheers, Deborah

  8. I love the two travel style ideas represented here. They are 2 great options. I say ladies be daring white is a great color to wear while traveling it feels like summer and will brighten up any look. If you are really looking to be worried- free try Joe’s Annie Jean which is stain resistant. Prints are great but can sometimes overpower a person depending on a person shape or body type. Deborah and Glam Gals, I really enjoyed this and see that you guys are insightful in your style selection.

  9. The white is hardly worry-free! Prints, prints, prints! With wine maroon and ketchup orange… Always a cross bag option– you never know when 2 hands will be important. A smile is the most important thing to wear on a flight these day!

  10. Hi Deborah and all the Glam Gals!
    These ideas are great. Being in style yet comfy is what being fashionable is all about. I love this site!

    If I may add a personal comment….. It concerns me when some women make negative comments about their body shapes. ALL people are beautiful in their unique way. As I have aged, I no longer criticize myself. Please, Glam Gals, let’s just accept what mother nature has given us and go with it! Oh, and keep current with Deborah’s website!

  11. I love the look Amandine put together for traveling but I would suggest a darker color. White can be very unforgiving should you brush up against some dirt or something drop in your lap.

    1. Hi Tina,
      Yes, absolutely, if you are worried about dirt go for a darker color, especially on the bottom, but I wear dark colors for 8 months of the year and when I travel in summer, white feels fresh and vacation-like. I don’t find airports or airplanes any dirtier than sitting in a restaurant. Cheers, Deborah

  12. Love your great ideas! They are very similar to the formula I followed when I flew to Rome a few weeks ago. I wore stretchy, dark wash blue jeans, a soft light brown cardigan over a white T-shirt, a leopard-print scarf, and Bandolino flats in a subtle tweed with a buckle across the toe. I did my hair and makeup, finishing the look off with a nice red lipstick. Putting together a polished travel-day outfit made me feel more confident and relaxed. My husband said I looked like a rock star. :)

  13. I fly more than 100K per year. My go to outfit for long flights is leggings, wrinkle resistant knit tunic, simple or no jewelry and slip on shoes. I always carry a lightweight pashmina in my carry on bag. For transatlantic flights or flights to Asia, I also pack a pair of warm socks, disposable slippers like they provide in hotels in Asia, and modest pjs. Today, many street clothes look like pjs anyway, so I do not look odd. When it is time to go to sleep, I change in the washroom and then change back into street clothes about an hour before landing. Flight attendants often tell me that they think more people should do this. They would rest better in flight.

    Within North America, I don’t need that step. But for long flights, I rest better on the plane and arrive at destination much fresher. I simply leave the slippers on the plane, and that way I don’t have to worry about transferring dirt and germs back into my carry on. I generally wear my eyeglasses on long flights, as opposed to contacts. I have keratoconus and wear specialized contacts that one cannot leave in whilst sleeping. I always pack a wallet and my passport, etc in my carry on bag, which I have customized for my own travel needs. This allows me to also carry a laptop bag as one of my two carry on items. I pack a lightweight Longchamps handbag with an adjustable strap in my checked luggage and use it once I arrive at my destination. The bag was quite an investment, but it is great for travel as it is lightweight, not bulky, stylish and looks good with both casual and business wear.

  14. I have flown quite a lot, and I’ve had strangers in the airport compliment me on the way I look when I travel. Start from the bottom and work up: comfortable shoes that make walking easy but still look smart; full length (for warmth) pants that don’t wrinkle easily; layered tops to save space in your baggage and keep you warm or cool as needed; a scarf or shawl for added warmth, even to cover your face if you don’t have or like a sleeping mask; layers of necklaces and bracelets to save baggage weight and look stylish, but be quick to take them off and dump into a bin for security checks; comfortable underwear. Nothing should be too tight, but everything should fit well and be on the dressy side without being fussy. Comfort is most important, especially on long haul flights, but it IS possible to be comfortable while dressing well! Bon voyage!!

  15. I love this idea but wonder if I could pull it off (slightly round body, on the vertically challenged side). When on a plane or going through the airport, I’m not much into sandals (just don’t like having my feet exposed due to all kinds of creepy stuff one might pick up). Would love some advice for an upcoming cross country trip.

    All the best, Stacy

    1. Hi Stacy,
      If you are round, this can still be a good look for you, however there are few things to keep in mind. Make you wear a top that is not tight around your tummy and that flows. You need to have some breathing room. Also,pick a shoe that has a low, soft wedge. The wedge will give you elongate you a bit but you will still be comfy.

  16. My favorite travel outfit is black jeggings (more dressy than blue jeans and more comfy!) I also like to layer as you never know what the temperature on the plane will be. I do this by wearing a black tank, a nice long sleeve T-shirt from Michael Stars and then an unstructured cardigan. I also always have a soft scarf to keep my neck warm if it is chilly or to use as a blanket as they do not give them on the plane much anymore! I keep the colors of my clothes neutral and bring in some color with the scarf.

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