What to wear when you travel

There’s been lots of talk about what’s appropriate travel wear ever since United Airlines stopped two little girls from boarding a plane wearing yoga pants (insert eye roll emoji) and then proceeded to put their foot in their mouth trying to explain why.

Wherever you stand on that debate, its true that we’ve gotten really far from the more glamourous days of travel. And I know comfort is really important, and we’re not exactly going to have someone squeeze us into corsets and hoop gowns anymore—but can’t we find some sort of style medium?

I mean, I think of travel as a great adventure, something I’m excited about doing, so I don’t want to show up for that adventure looking busted, though I know I may be in the minority here. I also don’t want to be caught, if I can’t check in on arrival, not looking right for roaming the streets and exploring while I wait for them to ready my room.

For many, I know it’s not that serious, but I will always argue that there’s something to be said about putting your best (and still comfortable) self forward when flying. Here are some rules I live by when it comes to travel style.

Absolutely no sweats, ever

The thing is, there’s really no way to make sweats look that nice. Sweats were made for lounging or sleeping or exercising, so I’m not sure how they crossed over into appropriate travel gear. I’m not even going to address pajama pants on the plane, because no. Comfort is critical yes, especially when you’re traveling long distances, but there are many non-sweats ways to still be comfortable. My go-to tends to be skinny pants with some stretch, since almost everything comes with stretch these days. Skinny pants, stretch denim, patterned lounge pants that aren’t too baggy, these are all good options here. The key is not having anything too tight on the stomach, since sitting with that situation for too long isn’t fun and then you have to be that person on the plane who secretly has their pants unbuttoned (been there).

Dress in layers

Sometimes the plane is freezing and the place you’re going is hot, so layers are key. If I know I’m headed somewhere sunshiney (which, let’s face it, is always the goal), I’ll wear a tank under a sweater or button up, or a short sleeve top under a light jacket. This does two things: gives you back up warmth for when you’re flying a budget airline that wants you to actually pay money for a blanket, and it prevents you from being sweaty and cranky when you arrive in said sunshiney place.

Exercise sneakers should only be for exercise

This one seems obvious (at least to me), but if your sneakers are meant for running or they’re all white very athletic shoe looking athletic shoes, maybe don’t wear them. There are endless options for sneakers that are nicer and more stylish. Wear those. I tend to opt for shoes I can slip on instead, so ballet flats are the standard for me. They’re comfortable, easy to put on and take off if you still have to do that because you haven’t gotten Global Entry yet (besides keeping your shoes on, read all the other reasons you need Global Entry). Also, ballet shoes are cute and still make me feel like I’m dressing nicely to go where I’m going. Sandals are another good option for girls provided you’re not leaving from a cold place and trekking through snow with your toes out to get to the airport (been there). For guys, sneakers are cool, and you know which ones the nice ones are.

Comb your hair

I’m not sure when it became cool to look like you literally rolled out of bed, maybe brushed your teeth and got straight on the plane. Hopefully your mothers taught you better than that. I also don’t think the people with uncombed hair are any more comfortable than those of us who bothered to get groomed. There’s no need for an all-out up-do, obviously, but at least comb your hair as you normally would. Or style it in a way that will leave it looking decent for the duration of your travels. Curlers, rollers, do rags and dirty caps should also be left at home.

Wear what you’d want to make an impression in

When you travel, you’re going to be meeting new people, seeing people you haven’t seen in a long time or some combination of both. Why should they have to see an unkempt you? Dress the way you’d want them to see you. Dress the way you’ll feel most comfortable meeting them. Also, I’m a big believer in travel being a good place to meet the person of your dreams. If you suddenly see him or her, would you really want to be looking any less than fresh? Probably not. I’m not saying traveling should be all about being dolled up or going all out (I fully believe stilettos and mini skirts on the plane are ridic), but there are ways to dress nicely and still be comfortable, so do it. Do it for the sake of bringing some style back to travel.