We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Here’s How to Dress for Your Next Flight

woman walking down a terminal walkway in an airport on the way to catch her flight
Nutthaseth Van/Shutterstock

When it comes to in-flight fashion, comfort and practicality should always be a priority. To maximize your experience at 35,000 feet in the air, here are some clothing tips you should consider next time you plan your mile-high outfit.

What to Wear

The air is dry, the pressure is high, and the temperature is low. Spending hours stuck in a flying tin can isn’t the most exciting experience, especially if you’re flying Economy. Bringing these items of clothing with you should help you feel cozy and increase your chances of falling asleep until you land.


Whether you’re flying to a warmer or colder location, it’s good to wear an outfit that will help you ease into the transition. However, while your mind might just be set on your destination, you should always keep in mind that the temperature in an airplane is never really toasty. That’s when layering comes in handy.

Be it a hoodie, a cardigan, or a cashmere sweater, having that extra layer with you can save you and your neighbor from the constant sound of your chattering teeth and bump the cozy level up a notch. Simply pack it in your carry-on and grab it the moment your body temperature begins to drop. Not only is dressing in layers great for general comfort, but it makes it a lot easier to catch a solid nap during the flight.

Compression Socks

You’re probably heard about the downside of long-haul flights before. Aside from the dry air that deprives your skin of its natural moisture, there’s the issue of lack of movement and impaired blood circulation on your lower limbs. Informally known as the “Economy Class Syndrome,” deep vein thrombosis is a real issue that can affect anyone on or after a long flight. Sitting for an extended period on your small airplane seat can cause swelling on your legs and feet due to poor circulation, increasing your chances of developing a blood clot that can travel to your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism which can sometimes be fatal.

Compression socks add the necessary pressure to assist your circulation and keep the swelling away. They might not be the most fashionable item, but they’ll save you from the discomfort of dealing with big feet in tight shoes.


We’ve mentioned how cold it can get on the plane and how wearing minimal clothing won’t do it any good. If you’re not a fan of sweaters or hoodies, you can opt for a scarf that can keep you warm while also helping your outfit look more put together. Sometimes airlines don’t provide blankets so if you have a scarf you can quickly wrap it around you and feel like a snug and peaceful burrito. Plus, they take very little space, and you can even use them to cover your hair or shoulders if you’re flying to a country with a conservative dress code.

Tote or Weekender Bag

When a carry-on is not necessary, either because you managed to fit everything in your suitcase or because you’d rather stick to carrying one wheeled bag at a time, you should consider opting for a bag that you can even fit under the seat in front of you. This way, if you need your earplugs or your sweater when the lights are out, and everyone else is sleeping, you can quickly get to them by reaching for your bag under the seat or in the overhead compartment undisturbed. If you decide on a tote bag, make sure it has a zipper or button closure to keep your belongings secure at all times.

What to Avoid

woman running down an airport walkway in heels
Red heels are fashionable, but somewhat impractical when you’re running to your gate S_Photo/Shutterstock

Sometimes it’s fashion; sometimes it’s business: there’s always a reason to dress up for a flight. But while fitted clothes and your favorite perfume might help you feel your best, they might also deprive you and those sitting around you from feeling comfortable enough to enjoy the trip.

High Heels and Flip Flops

High heels elongate your legs, and flip flops make you feel at home, but they’re not the best shoes for travel. Not only can they slow you down if you have to run to your gate, but they can also represent a hindrance in evacuating the plane. Even if you don’t have to run at any point in your trip, you’re very likely to get literal cold feet mid-flight and give many airlines don’t provide socks you might end up struggling to fall asleep due to the lack of warmth on your extremities.

It’s always best to stick to sneakers or slippers, which are easy to put on and take off and go with any look. And if you want to wear heels or flip flops at your destination, pack them in your carry-on and wear them once you land. Carrying an extra pair of socks is also recommended.

Tight or Complicated Clothes

Skinny jeans and complicated fashion pieces should be packed away and substituted by loose-fitting or stretchy clothes. That’s because having material wrapped tightly around your body for hours in the air can obstruct circulation and cause you to swell and feel bloated. That’s not to mention the lack of comfort you’ll experience when trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Moreover, having intricate dresses, tops, or jumpsuits can slow you down and present you with a challenge when using the tiny lavatories.

Similar to flip flops, tight shorts and mini skirts are also a bit of a fashion faux pas when it comes to flying. While they might make you look your best at first, your opinion might change the moment the temperature begins to drop, and your brain initiates sleep mode. If you’d rather board the flight with your best outfit, pack your comfy clothes in your bag and change into them in the restroom before takeoff. You’ll be thanking yourself for that when you land.

Strong Fragrance

This tip is mostly for the benefit of your fellow passengers. Everyone does not always welcome strong-smelling colognes, body sprays or perfumes, and they could even cause an allergic reaction on some people. If you want to smell your best at arrival, pack a sample size of your favorite fragrance, and apply it after landing. You could even buy a tiny travel-size atomizer to slip in your carry on. It’s easy for you to do and a kind gesture for the other travelers.

Contact Lenses

The air in the cabin can be extremely dry to the point of taking a toll on your health. On top of the things aforementioned, your eyes can also suffer the consequences of a dry environment. Contact lenses can become particularly uncomfortable and irritate your eyes after only a couple of hours of facing arid cabin air. The best way to avoid this issue is to take them off as soon as they start to bother you and bring your glasses to change into to give your eyes a break.

It’s always worth taking the time to prepare your outfit and carry-on before a flight. When done right, it can help you fast track your screening process after customs and make you feel snug enough to get some rest on your way to your destination. You might not look like a million bucks, but your body won’t certainly mind.

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?