What to Pack Series

Know What to Wear: Clothing Tips for Long Flights

Posted by Rachel Klein on March 03, 2011 at 1:46:49 PM EST | Post a Comment
Pashminas-colorful.jpg The most well-traveled ladies prep properly ahead of overnight flights to get off the plane looking put-together and ready to go. Fodorites know the tricks—from the best layers to wardrobe basics that work for comfort and practicality on board as well as at your destination. Check out these helpful women's clothing tips from our forums. Perfect Pashminas: Layers for Changing Temperatures "I pack a pashmina and use it as a blanket for the top half of my body...I don't bother wearing sweats because they're a waste of space. I prefer to wear something on the plane that is comfortable and yet useful once I get to my destination." —frogoutofwater "I find a pashmina a must for keeping myself warm. I take noise cancelling headphones for the movie and for quiet sleeping. I always wear black pants and a black sweater, something that I can always wear again on the trip. Then I accessorize with some stand-out necklace or piece of jewelry (which of course is usually costume)."—librarygirrrl Stretchy Separates: Black and Basic are Best "I try to mix comfort with a practical approach... I wear black pants with a bit of lycra. They are comfy have a bit of stretch and I don't look like I slept in them. I also use them during the trip. In the winter I tend to wear a cashmere turtle neck with a jacket or blazer and in the summer a twin set. I wear boots or my heavier pair of shoes but take them off and but on fuzzy socks."—travelbunny "Microfiber is the answer. Stretchy, never wrinkles, not clingy. I wear comfortable dress slacks and a nice top. They are as comfortable as pajamas but look very stylish and polished even after many hours on a plane."—mindyhanzik "I have a designated travel uniform! The pants, they are lightweight dark colored denim trousers. They have 2% Lycra so they stretch making them just as comfortable as sweats and wrinkle free. Also the wide leg trouser style makes them dressy enough to where I feel comfortable, I don't like to be dressed up on international flights but I also don't wear sweats and sneakers...I always pair this with a black Lycra v-neck t-shirt and black or gray cardigan, it's a universally flattering combination and the layers help with changing temperatures in the cabin. The flexibility and stretch of the fabrics makes it very easy to sleep in on long haul flights and they don't wrinkle up!"—GiuliaPiraino Classic Wrap Dress: Pair with Ballet Flats "I have always been most comfortable in dresses, and so wear a knit dress, polo-style dress, or knit wrap. The added value of dresses is that these often look good at my destination (frankly unlike sweats, where most other cultures consider these only slightly above going out in your pajamas.) The weight and style of the dress varies with the seasons. For warmth, a coordinating cardigan or wrap is good, and useful on the trip. I like shoes that I can kick off easily, i.e. ballet flats of some kind. This also makes going through security pretty easy. "—madameX Smart and Sporty: The Anti-Sweats Answer "I love velour suits with soft pants and a matching hoodie. I do wear them at my destination if I go to a spa or gym, or just want to throw something comfy on for breakfast."—Dreamer2 "Black yoga type knit pants (loose fitting), a relaxed fit knit shirt with a sweater or shawl to layer over. The key is loose fitting layers for me. Easy slip on shoes also." —trippinkpj Photo Credit: iammai / iStockPhoto What is your favorite outfit for a long flight?

Member Comments (19)  Post a Comment

  • Lindores on May 7, 11 at 07:28 AM

    Some brilliant advice here, thank you, but my nightmare is my hair which does not like travel as much as I do. I have learned to pack a small hand towel (old and thin) and shampoo into my hand luggage. First stop after disembarking is the airport bathroom where I stick my head under the tap, one quick wash, rub with towel, comb through and am ready for the day! Added bonus is that it also refreshes me after a long night. Okay, I do have short hair :-)

  • lynclarke on Mar 28, 11 at 12:03 PM

    Chico's or JJill's travel wear is great. First of all, one can sleep in it and still look good on the other end! Secondly, it washes easily in non-US washing machines or hand wash in a hotel room sink. I always wear my heaviest shoes- ie walking shoes- and compression socks but remember to put a pair of hard sole slippers in the carry on for those trips to the toilet during the flight. The toilet floors get really yucky by the end of the flight!

  • leaguemary on Mar 21, 11 at 05:27 PM

    I agree with no pants/slacks - but I do like a pair of Bermuda shorts combined with tights under which I wear my compression knee highs. Granted, a 68 year old granny gets some odd looks - but I can curl into almost any "sleeping" position without binding. I have travel socks (thank you Qantas) that I put on as soon as I board the plane. And instead of investing in a scarf, I have a nice length of fleece from the fabric remnants bin that serves as a stole, a pillow, a whatever you need during the trip. I have some seat exercises from my yoga instructor - but you can find them on the Travel Smith or Magellan web site too. And, yes, lots of water so many trips to the loo during the flight. That does make me walk around and also unkinks my back. I also like No Jet Lag (you can get it from the above mentioned travel clothing/supplies stores as well as REI.) I don't know if it really helps, but I like to think it does.

    And nap on a beach in Hawaii the day you arrive couldn't be too bad.

  • hotzim on Mar 13, 11 at 02:15 PM

    Wow, no one has mentioned zippy pants! Quite often I am traveling from one climate to another so zippy pants allow you to transition without changing clothes. No heel slip-on shoes like easy spirits, rather than tennis shoes, allow you to sprint thru airports yet easily slip then on and off thru security. A short sleeve top and then long sleeve sweater with a lightweight microfiber hooded rainproof short coat that also blocks the wind completes the precautions.

  • Jem28 on Mar 13, 11 at 12:00 AM

    KalenaLK: I 'survive' winter w/a week in a warm place every Feb! I always wear:
    Top: print cami or tank w/shelf bra, light long sleeve tee and long sleeve cotton sweater. I tuck a light hoodie and pashmina in my carry on.
    Bottom: Black silk long johns, black cotton comfy ankle slacks, silk sock liners under black wool socks.
    For shoes I wear a mary jane style water shoe. (Good for walking airport corridors as well as beaches!)The layers work for any temp in flight.
    Before landing I've removed long johns, both socks and sweater. Depending on weather there, tee may come off too: a tank, cotton ankle slacks and mesh walking shoes say Aloha!

  • RondaTravels on Mar 11, 11 at 05:42 PM

    Black cargo pants (with 1% or 2% lycra). Black looks nicer than khaki and doesn't show wrinkles so much. I can keep my everything I need for my flight handy (electronics, earphones, money, etc.!) as well as passport, and even a stack of napkins (once, on landing in Paris, the baby sitting next to me started vomiting violently! Before it even reached me I had a wad of napkins out and in the mom's hands. I think she was as grateful as I was I had them). I usually wear a lightweight top (been on some really hot planes lately) and bring a sweater and large scarf/pashmina.

  • p_gill on Mar 11, 11 at 04:36 PM

    Although I wear pants often, I do not find them comfortable for traveling...find them restrictive and binding in the waist and crotch area. My travel 'uniform' is a midcalf skirt with a long sleeve (often am cold on flights) knit top..lets me move around freely and once covered by the blanket can prop my legs up any which way. I arrive at my destination looking 'dressed' and am usually complemented on my appearance. And I always carry a jacket with a light scarf for accesorizing.

  • girlsgetaway on Mar 11, 11 at 03:28 PM

    I usually wear a nice pair of black yoga pants (lululemon of course:) and a loose top. I tend to go for comfort and not fashion on a long flight. On my last trip a woman in front of me wore a metal studded miniskirt and a pair of knee high platform boots (I swear the heel was 6 inches tall) We all had a fun time watching her go through security.

  • LStern2900 on Mar 11, 11 at 02:01 PM

    I have a few cashmere/silk knit sweater and pants outfits that are both comfortable and warm. You also look well dressed when deplaning. If flying on a flight more than 10 hours I change into new black pj's.

  • wanderlustingly on Mar 11, 11 at 12:40 PM

    Another great thing about scarves/pashminas: they transform a basic black outfit into a totally different look by adding colour.

    I wrote a blog similar to this one, but included options for guys. If you're interested:


  • saacnmama on Mar 11, 11 at 12:39 PM

    Kalena, why not wear leggings as long johns with a pair of pants you're taking anyway? My favorite 'scarf' is actually a half-length sarong I bought in Hawaii. If you don't have one yet, take a colorful scarf. A sweater probably will be useful for evening even in the islands, and you can layer as much as you want underneath it.

    Given today's news, you may want to pack items for relief efforts. Bon voyage!

  • scarlettudor on Mar 11, 11 at 10:49 AM

    I have a t-shirt that I usually wear on international flights. It's black and in white lettering says 'I have no idea what I'm doing out of bed.' I get smiles from people on the plane and in airports.

    Once there, I have a black sweatshirt that says 'Wandered away from the tour.' I think it's always good to give the guide fair warning...

  • GoodLuckGirl on Mar 11, 11 at 10:44 AM

    Guilia's look is similiar to mine. In the winter, I combine a pair of dressy black lycra jeans, grey turtleneck, and a heavy knitted cotton "swing" style mid thigh cardigan. This style is a bit more fashion forward and versatile. Low/flat heeled black boots and a great scarf/pashmina complete the look. For warmer weather, I replace the top with a cotton v or scoop neck, a lightweight cotton swing cardigan, ballet flats, and a scarf. In the outside zippered compartment of my carry on, I include a knee-length black denim/lycra skirt to change into at the airport if arriving for an early meeting. All of the above have served me well in any situation and any destination.

  • KalenaLK on Mar 11, 11 at 10:32 AM

    Problem I have is deciding what to wear for long trip from Minneapolis to Honolulu in Feb. Suggestions? Don't want to take anything I won't use in Hawaii.

  • jwsmd3 on Mar 11, 11 at 09:51 AM

    Boys can do it right too!
    Either black track pants or cashmere "sweats" with a black long sleeve crew neck quick dry sports top with a black cashmere pullover, Nike black shoe/ sneakers and my travel socks with little airplanes, cars and trains and, of course, noise cancelling headphones. Just wished pockets had zippers....my passport fell out once while asleep!

  • MusicGirl135 on Mar 10, 11 at 01:09 PM

    I try to wear leggings and a dress, or I wear a pair of comfortable jeans and ballet flats. Normally I have some sort of light sweater/jacket so I can use it as a blanket, or for it's purpose if my destination is a bit nippy. Normally a boyfriend cardigan or something similar.

  • dutchgirlincanada on Mar 10, 11 at 12:21 PM

    I usually wear black leggings with a tunic and a scarf, then I pack a sweater with me that I slip on once in the plane. When I arrive I look more stylish then if I had just put on a pair of sweats

  • sylvia3 on Mar 8, 11 at 06:12 PM

    Used to be a long skirt, before that was a trigger for an invasive pat down.

  • Swantraveller on Mar 4, 11 at 06:27 AM

    I go for librarygirrrl's choice. Black outfits are also "stain-free". I can travel/fly worrying less about my outfit getting stained. I also wear stretchy separates and pack quick drying breathable clothing (or water-proof pants depending on the wweather).

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