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Dressing for a flight can be a complex equation to solve—one that requires considering comfort, your future destination’s weather, and the dreaded airport security dance. After much debate between our team, it’s evident what to wear on a plane comes down to personal style. One man’s cozy sweatpants of choice is another man’s sartorial nightmare. However, our editors can agree on a few things to avoid wearing when traveling. Here’s our agreed-upon list on the things to never wear on a flight and what to wear instead.
Instead wear: Stretchy trousers
Sitting still in a cramped seat for hours is not the time for your stomach to be grappling with a stiff denim waistband. A more comfortable yet equally smart alternative are trousers with drawstring or elasticated waists. Look for styles in light fabrics like ponte or cotton, or curl up in a fleece jogger style for a long-haul flight.
Shoes with laces, buckles, or high tops
Instead wear: Slip-on shoes
Even though they’re perfect shoes to wear on vacation, trainers, boots, and Birkenstocks will only slow you down at the airport when you are inevitably asked to remove them to go through security. Trainers mean pausing to have to tie up laces, while Birkenstock wearers are forced to do the awkward tippy-toe walk to try (and fail) to avoid getting dirty feet. Trainers are also redundant on long-haul flights when feet are prone to swelling, and you’ll want to remove your shoes anyway. Instead, pack your trainers or Birkenstocks in your carry-on luggage (store them in a packing cube with rolled-up socks), and opt for a sturdy pair of flat slip-on shoes like ballet flats, mules, or loafers.
A romper or jumpsuit
Instead wear: A matching set
Rompers and jumpsuits may offer a relaxed head-to-look look, but their all-in-one style can turn cumbersome when it comes to going for a mid-flight bathroom break. The risk of accidentally having a jumpsuit strap touch the floor, or even the toilet is just not worth it. A better option is a matching set, which still looks effortless and put together while avoiding having to strip down in the bathroom.
A claw clip
Instead wear: A soft scrunchie or a baseball hat
They’re a cute and effortless way to whip your hair up, but claw clips might be the most uncomfortable things to wear when leaning back against a headrest. For optimal comfort, tie hair up high in a loose bun and secure with a soft scrunchie, or embrace a quiet luxury aesthetic à la Succession and slick hair back underneath a smart cap. Do note though: You must remove your baseball hat when going through airport security.
A bra with underwire
Instead wear: A soft wireless bra
An uncomfortable bra can feel 10 times worse when worn at 35,000 feet in the sky. Since you’ll ideally be wearing a relaxed top on a flight, why ruin it with a rigid bra? The alternatives are plentiful too—since the pandemic there’s been an increase in easy-to-wear soft wireless bras and bralettes that still offer a sculptural shape and support.
Instead wear: Darker colors