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The Do’s and Don’ts of Assembling the Perfect Airport Outfit

You don’t have to dress to the nines, but here’s how to look effortlessly chic and comfortable while traveling.

The process of traveling is exactly that—a process. You have to decide where you want to spend your well-earned days off, and then comes the task of finding flights that line up with your schedule and planning the itinerary for once you arrive at the destination. However, you’re not done yet. There’s still another step that requires major thought: What are you actually wearing to the airport?

You’ve managed to pack your carry-on like a pro, but now it’s time to assemble the perfect airport outfit. This is especially important if you have a long-haul flight ahead of you. You’ll want an outfit that will pass through security without trouble, but also be comfortable. The perfect outfit should be lightweight, but also provide warmth without being constrained; fashionable but not too overdressed.

Luckily, assembling the perfect airport outfit that is functional, comfortable, and speaks to your personal style is easier than you think. Below are a few style dos and don’ts to keep in mind for your next vacation.

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Do: Lightweight Outerwear

It isn’t easy traveling during cold or winter months. Besides having a suitcase full of cold-weather gear, you’ll also need warm outerwear to wear to the airport. Resist the urge to wrap yourself in a massive parka that will be uncomfortable to fly in or take up space in the overhead bin. Luckily, the market is full of lightweight packable jackets that provide the same warmth but with a fraction of the bulk. They’re compact, so they can be rolled up in a pouch. Wear this on your flight or stuff it in your carry-on after you reach the airport.

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Don’t: Awkward One-Pieces

A great one-piece-wonder (dress, romper, or jumpsuit) is essential to a perfect spring or summer wardrobe, but some of them will prove tricky to get out of. They don’t exactly pose a problem when going through security, but if you have to go to the bathroom (which will happen, you’re human), that’s where the awkward part comes in. Undoing a ton of buttons and the gymnastics involved with a back zipper don’t work well in a confined airplane bathroom. Also, your jumpsuit will essentially be on the gross bathroom floor when you have to pull it down.

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Do: Matching Sets

Once you’ve decided on a comfortable pair of pants, then you have to find a shirt to go with it. Or vice versa. No need to do any of that if you embrace a fashion trend that’s still going strong. Coordinating sets and tracksuits do all of the work for you. This is a great option if you want an airport style that looks intentionally thoughtful and put together with minimal effort. What’s even better is the individual pieces can also be mixed and matched with garments in your luggage to create a variety of outfits when you land. That’s a great way to maximize your outfits if you’re only traveling with a carry-on.

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Don’t: Denim

Although denim jeans won’t wrinkle, they won’t be comfortable on a long flight. Denim isn’t exactly a breathable material and a pair of jeans can feel pretty restrictive and hard to move in. That’s the last thing you want when in a confined space on a plane. One caveat to this is if you have a pair of jeans that you’ve already broken in and has a good amount of stretch.

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Do: Leggings as a Stylish Foundation

Leggings tend to get a bad rap as being “basic” or giving the appearance that you’re heading to an exercise class. But there’s no denying how comfortable they can be, and that alone makes them an airport do. Because they’re so “basic,” that actually makes them perfect. High-waisted leggings are the ideal fashion foundation you can dress up or dress down. Using the leggings as your base, throw on a cute tunic, scarf, and sunglasses and you have a chic, comfortable look. This formula is great if you’re a creature of habit and don’t want to think too much about your outfit choice but want to be comfortable. Just swap out the other elements (lightweight tunic for a cozy dress, moto boots for sandals, etc.) when the seasons change.

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Don’t: Something You’ve Never Worn Before

Your first time wearing a brand new item of clothing shouldn’t be to the airport. You just don’t know how comfortable and wearable it actually is. That cozy sweater you finally decided to wear might actually be pretty itchy. Or those shoes that arrived in the mail yesterday may pinch your feet and result in blisters. All clothes should be given a test run before wearing, especially in preparation for a long day of travel.

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Do: The Perfect One and Done

While some jumpsuits fall in the “don’t” category, the one-piece wonder that is an absolute must is a dress. Besides not having to worry about what top or bottom to pair it with, a dress looks chic without trying too hard. A breathable cotton material will provide major comfort and a good length (knee-length or longer) like this turtleneck dress keeps your legs warm during the flight. The length provides comfort in knowing you won’t accidentally reveal too much when reaching for your bags from the overhead bin.

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Don’t: Materials That Wrinkle Easily

Anyone who’s ever worn linen can tell you it’s not the most comfortable fabric. It’s great for summer, but traveling long hours can create an insane amount of wrinkles and creases, which can make even the most put-together ensemble look sloppy. The same goes for materials like silk or satin. They’ll wrinkle just as quickly and aren’t sweat-proof. If you have plans shortly after your flight lands, your wrinkled clothing will appear unpresentable.

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Do: Easily Removable Layers

Planes are notoriously cold, but once in a while, it can get stuffy. For this reason, having layers you can easily remove is a major key to comfort. Hoodies provide warmth and comfort, but trying to pull one over your head may result in accidentally elbowing your seatmate’s face. Instead of practicing contortionism, an open front cardigan or duster is a better option. You’ll still have the warmth if it’s chilly in the plane, but it’ll also be a breeze to remove if you get warm.

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Don’t: Stack on the Rings

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to add a bit of flair to your airport style. Rings can complete an outfit or add a touch of glam, but they aren’t practical. It’s not uncommon for feet or fingers to swell while at a high elevation, so stacking a few rings on your fingers isn’t the best idea and can be downright uncomfortable.

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Do: Chic Sunglasses

From hiding tired eyes to looking effortlessly chic without any makeup, a good oversized pair of sunglasses should be a part of every airport outfit. (Though you won’t be able to wear them through security.) Also, a pair of sunnies will come in handy if your seatmate prefers to keep the window open during the entire flight. Aviator sunglasses are a style that looks great on most face shapes and you don’t have to spend a ton of money on them. If you jet-set often, you might even designate a pair just for traveling and leave them in your personal carry-on item so you never leave home without them.

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Don’t: Cumbersome Shoes

You’ve probably been there before. You’re standing behind that person (there’s always one) who’s struggling with their shoes in the security line. Maybe it’s a pair of over-the-knee boots that need to be unzipped or a pair of sneakers with complicated laces tied in a double knot. Whatever the situation, shoes that require multiple steps to get out of are usually a no-go for any airport outfit.

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Do: A Scarf Year-Round

Scarves tend to be associated with colder months, but this accessory can really be worn year-round. A bulky cable knit scarf won’t have a place in your spring or summer outfit, but a lightweight, long cotton one is always a winner. Wrap it around your neck a few times and it automatically adds visual interest to any look. This is an accessory that mixes fashion and function, as it doubles as a blanket or a headrest during your flight.

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Do: Remember Your Hat

Another accessory you don’t want to leave behind is a hat. A baseball cap can suffice, but to really step it up, try a style like a wide brim hat. It works for pretty much any face shape and a well-made hat will hold up over time. Actually, it will look even better over time. Plus, traveling with a hat instead of packing it in your bag means you don’t have to worry about it getting crushed.

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