Flight risk: how to dress for plane travel



The idea of dressing nicely for a long-haul flight has certainly gone the way of flight attendants in mini skirts.

I’ve just emerged in South Carolina, after three jam-packed flights from Sydney, and not from the pointy end of the plane.

Dear God, the things I’ve seen. Or haven’t.

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It used to be you could count on seeing a nice couple in their sixties raising the sartorial bar, he in a navy blazer, chinos and a polo, she in ballet flats, tailored pants and an interesting scarf. But not this time.

I didn’t spy one tailored blazer until Charlotte, North Carolina, which was being sported by a very elderly Southern gentleman in alligator loafers who called me ma’am.

In general, everybody seems to be wearing whatever they found at the end of the bed. Dressing up means two full sleeves of tattoos. I’d rate the six-year-old in dinosaur print pyjamas and high tops as the most formally dressed person I saw.

In the terminals it appeared as if people had given up on life itself and were now unconcernedly wearing neck pillows as scarfs, even while they ate shrimp and drank beer.

Celebrities getting plane fashion right include (L-R): Maria Sharapova, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Sienna Miller and Dita Von Teese.

Celebrities getting plane fashion right include (L-R): Maria Sharapova, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Sienna Miller and Dita Von Teese.

I have, in the past, written columns about how to have a stylish travel wardrobe and what to pack on a long haul flight. Ah yes, there were useful tips such as “cashmere slippers are a must, and I like to take my own silk eye mask and Kashmiri shawl for when it gets chilly”.

I grimly recall those “lavish hands regularly with Santa Maria Novella lemon scented hand cream” days back in row 46C, as my flesh begins to spill over my knee-high nylon flight socks and I refuse all liquid refreshment to avoid non-essential trips to the toilet.

Plane travel is not pretty, which is all the more reason to wear things that are practical and comfortable but still stylish. It’s thoughtful to others.

What you should wear

do-donty• There are many great pant options available with stretch and elastic waists that still fall into the area of smart casual, as opposed to your basic trackie.

Maybe you could also rethink those low rise stretch jeans that don’t quite cover your bum aka “now they’re reaching for the overhead locker, quick, look away”.

Leggings are fine, I guess, but a longer-line t-shirt, shirt, cardigan or mini trench for when you get off the plane will class them up.

• Rubber thongs are for the beach. You’re in cramped quarters, the person next to you is a stranger, and I am pretty certain no one on the planet wants to see your toe hair.

• It seems I must accept that jackets on planes have gone the way of the Concorde but there are beautiful cardigan/jackets around that add a touch of relaxed polish worn with a t-shirt and soft pants.

• Just a small detail like a silk scarf, a pashmina, or a bangle will add some glamour to the basic t-shirt, cardigan and stretch pants combo.

• It doesn’t have to be dirty trainers. Here’s an option: clean trainers. Or ballet slippers. Soft leather or suede loafers. Actually, anything that covers your feet.

Maybe it’s the times, or maybe it’s just me getting more neurotic, but my predilection for en-route aromatherapy sprays and SK2 face masks seems to have been replaced by purse packs of disinfectant wipes to clean the remotes

But if we all raised the game, then perhaps plane travel wouldn’t seem quite so feral. We should all at least look and feel as effortlessly stylish as Johnny Depp’s dogs.


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