Travel/Cruise

What to Wear on a Plane to Travel in Comfort & Style

Remember when flying was leisurely and glamorous and everyone dressed to the nines?  Now it’s jam-packed planes, scrambling to make your flight and passengers in the most casual clothing.

Despite it all, one thing hasn’t changed –  I still want to feel comfy but look stylish when I travel. How about you?

Whether your flight is an hour or a whole day, what you wear on a plane can make or break the ride. Here are some stylish outfits for flying that hit the perfect sweet spot between comfort and style.

 

Comfy airplane outfit showing what to wear on a plane

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How to Dress for a Flight

1. Wear Loose Fitting Pants

Comfort is king when you’re traveling by air. The best airplane outfits start with a pair of loose-fitting pants.

There’s nothing worse than sitting for hours on a plane in stiff, tight pants that squeeze your thighs and dig into your crotch! Plus, if you wear anything binding, you risk getting Deep Vein Thrombosis – blood clots in your leg, which can lead to sudden death!

The best kind of pants to wear on an airplane are:

  • Wide-leg pants: relaxed and elegant with a tucked-in top
  • Stretchy denim: Dark wash is versatile and easy to style
  • Soft straight-leg and flares: Ponte pants are classy and comfy
  • Loose Chinos – relaxed fit
  • Slim Refined Joggers: casual but chic with a snug sweater or tee

All these are loose, soft, and comfy, allowing you to bend, stretch, and move on long, packed flights.

Comfortable airplane outfit showing what to wear on a plane

 

Shop the Stretchy Cargo Pants Look

 

 

2. Add a Simple, Relaxed Top

The best travel outfits for planes start include a relaxed top that has some  stretch to keep you feeling comfy and stress-free. Keep it simple.

Avoid tops with big buttons, zippers, studs, that weigh you down and can get dig into your skin when crammed into a tiny seat.

Also stay clear of tops with decorative embellishment like fringe,  large looping, or sequins that could be caught on on something and pull. Remember how narrow those airplane aisles are!

I like plain, lightweight tops that that fit fairly close to the body  ( nothing wide or flowy), that are stretchy and have long sleeves that I can easily push up if it gets warm.

 

3. Choose Breathable Fabrics

The most comfortable airplane outfits are light, comfy, breathable, and wrinkle-resistant.

Cotton is a top choice because it allows air circulation, so you don’t get too hot during the flight. But it does wrinkle, so choose a wrinkle-resistant cotton blend.

You can also go with blended silks, knits, jerseys, and oh-so-cozy modals. Certain synthetic performance fabrics also work because they’re wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, wicking, and quick-drying.

 

Woman wearing jack and striped top showing what to wear on a plane
A cute jacket for travel with a striped top and loose chinos.

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4. Layer your Clothes

Airplanes are famous for their unpredictable temps. One moment, you’re sweating buckets, waiting on the runway for the plane to finally take off; the next minute, you’re up in the air, freezing your arms off. I’m always cold on a plane, and they no longer give out blankets!

This is why layering is so important when you are creating a comfy airplane outfit. Start with a light, airy base layer like a comfy cotton tee or tank top, then layer as needed.

You can layer up or down with a lightweight, long cardigan, blazer, sweater jacket, or a loungewear sweatshirt or jacket. Stay away from bulky ponchos or thick, heavy jackets that take up a lot of space. They’re not pratical when you are  trying to get to your seat in a packed planes.

I also like to bring an oversized scarf or a light cashmere wrap. This can be used for layering or be used as a blanket. When you don’t need it, roll it up and turn it into a pillow, or use it to cover your eyes when you want to sleep. It’s easy to toss into a carry-on!

 

 

Woman wearing white button up and green chinos showing what to wear on a plane
The same chinos in green with comfy loafers and an easy shirt.

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….But Color is o.k. too!

I wear jeans or dark-colored pants when I fly,  but since I love color, I wear something brighter. That’s just my style. A shot of pink, for example, makes me feel happy, like vacation time has begun!

 

Stylish outfit for flying showing what to wear on a plane

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6. Ditch Heels for Comfy, Safe Shoes

The amount of walking you must do in an airport to get through customs, security, and finally to your gate is crazy! Leave your too-dressy, too-tight shoes or high heels at home! Instead, choose comfy shoes that are balanced with style.

  • Slip-on sneakers make getting through security checks a breeze.
  • Lightweight Trainers provide support and style without sacrificing comfort and protect your toes from travel accidents like stubbing your toe on your heavy suitcase.
  • Any other easy-to-walk-in closed-toe shoe

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

Finally, think about how much more hygienic a covered shoe is than a sandal or flip-flop since airplanes and their washroom floors are full of germs. about You don’t want anything gross splashing up on your feet!

 

7. Slip On Compression Socks

When you’re thinking about what to wear when flying, don’t forget about socks. There have been a few times I’ve slipped on my sneakers on forgot to wear socks.

There are two problems with this. First, at security you need to remove your shoes and when you don’t have socks, it’s pretty gross to be stepping on that filthy carpet. Also. with all the walking around the airport, your feet can get pretty sweaty and smelly.

So be sure to wear socks and if if you really want to give your feet some TLC, wear compression socks. Compression socks keep the blood flowing in your feet and legs, improve circulation, and keep swelling at bay during long flights.

This is particularly important on long flights when you are sitting for hours.

 

 

Woman wearing athleisurewear showing what to wear on a plane

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8. Choose Elevated Leisurewear

Some Leisurewear looks too casual and loungey, like it belongs in the gym or on the couch when watching TV. But if you can find a classy leisurewear set that is a little more polished like this one above, that can work too. Matched sets are great because they look intentional and, therefore, more professional. Keep your outfit neat so you look classy, not trashy.

9. Carry a Bag that Gives You Freedom

Your best friend for stashing essentials and in-flight entertainment is a big, roomy tote bag. Look for one with pockets to keep things organized.

For short flights or for gals who don’t like to carry a lot of stuff, there’s the trusty crossbody bag! It’s all about convenience, security, and style rolled into one. Keep your essentials close and your hands-free. Opt for an adjustable strap for extra comfort.

Whichever way you go, I suggest avoiding bags with heavy hardware like studs or chains, which weigh you down, may get scratched, or accidentally knock a fellow passenger out if you are swinging it around onboard trying to find your seat. LOL!

 

Woman in black jeans and sweater showing what to wear on a plane

I usually wear dark bottoms like these @mottandbow Orchard power stretch jeans made for air travel with a very light cashmere sweater to keep me warm on the plane. Comfy sneakers and a light crossbody bag are a must!

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Questions…Many people ask……

Q. Leggings are Comfy. Can I wear them on a plane?

Leggings are a little controversial when it comes to air travel, and there are two issues here.

They’re not the safest -Yoga leggings are the worst thing to wear on a plane since they are both tight and made of thin synthetic materials, which are more likely to burn in a fire and will stick to your legs.  If you still want to go ahead, find a blended fabric.

They’re not the classiest – When you board a plane, you should be dressing not just for yourself but for the passengers whose very close space you will be invading.  If you are wearing leggings with a short top and not much else, that’s a lot of information.  If you are going to wear them, make sure they aren’t too flimsy, and wear them with a long top, tunic, jacket, or short dress that covers your crotch and your bottom.  It’s only polite in such a crowded space; a longer top creates a more flattering look.

Q. 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. Here’s how to dress for a flight in warmer weather:

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

Shorts: I don’t recommend them because they are not comfy or elegant, but if you choose to wear them, go for longer Bermuda shorts to keep your thighs covered and warm.

Sundress: On short flights  (i.e., 1.5 hours or less), I wear 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 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 mid-calf are great options.

Here are a few more airplane outfit for summer. 

Many people travel overseas in the summer. If you are going to Europe and you are not sure what to wear, Check out these Euro-chic travel looks.

The Bottom Line about What to Wear When Traveling on a Plane

Traveling in comfort and style doesn’t have to be a puzzle. Whether you are jetting off on a business trip or a well-deserved holiday, there are a ton of options to help you feel relaxed and look fabulous. Follow these guidelines and prepare for takeoff with confidence and flair. Safe travels!

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

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33 thoughts on “What to Wear on a Plane to Travel in Comfort & Style

  1. I always think about using the minuscule restroom on the plane. You know, the one with the sticky floor? No jumpsuits for me, and now I stick to joggers – they are much easier to keep from pooling on the ground around your feet. I also stick up on cozy socks at the dollar store – if they get yucky for any reason, I just throw them away before I leave the plane.

  2. I travel frequently and love these ideas, especially the “no heavy hardware on your bag.” I’ve been knocked in the head, so I know you are right! I’m more than a little skeptical about the jumpsuit, however. So cute, but in my opinion, impractical for travel. I can’t imagine trying to wrangle one in an airplane bathroom!

  3. Coming home from a two-week European river cruise three years ago, I was wearing my last clean top, an off-white knit tunic, and navy leggings, the perfect travel garb. Our flight out of Budapest was canceled (after seven hours of sitting in the airport), and we were put up in a local hotel. Dining in their restaurant that night, we were pestered by a persistent fly, which I tried to shoo away with a forkful of Hungarian stew that was flung down the front of my tunic. No more traveling in white!!????

  4. 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, more 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 wear 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 nightclubs. Cheers, Deb

  5. 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 backup PJs or as a 2nd casual outfit until my lost bag arrived!! Layer up, ladies!!

  6. 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, and 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.
    Thanks.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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

  15. 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. :)

  16. 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.

  17. 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!!

  18. 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.

  19. 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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