As my Delta Skymiles status now indicates, my biannual arch back and forth over the Atlantic between university and home has made me a real jet-setter in the past year and a half. I’ve never been a practical dresser on any account, but the cyclicality of living my life in two places has unforeseeably sharpened my approach to airport style in a way that is now both practical and fashionable. So here’s what I’ve learned.
Travel-wear used to be all comfort, comfort, comfort for me, but I have since realized that you don’t have to resign yourself to baggy joggers and an oversized sweatshirt to maintain a lasting level of repose in the long hours you spend crammed in a hunk of metal in the sky. My go-to airport outfit now includes a pair of loose-fitting, belted linen trousers, which permits for plenty of breathing room within a composed ensemble, and also allows me get taken a little more seriously by TSA officials than I would in a pair of athletic leggings. I’ve also picked up on the ingenious trick of chucking a pair of tights in my bag en-route back to Scotland, allowing for the thinness of my pants’ fabric to become easily upholsterable against those brutal North Sea winds upon touchdown. In flying back and forth, especially over winter break, it’s hard to dress for epically contrasting Floridian and Scottish weather simultaneously, but the tights-trick offers an easy solution to that uncomfortable switch from balmy to bone-chilling temperatures.
Scarves of any kind are also a chic, simple way to dress up an outfit (not just at the airport), and also offer a certain practicality, giving you another option for some added warmth in the A/C-saturated confines of a trans-Atlantic flight. If you really want to go for it in terms of other accessories, a pair of dark sunglasses means you can avoid eye contact with strangers AND pretend you’re a mysterious celebrity/fashion journalist/foreign dignitary all at the same time.
I cannot emphasize enough the welcome flexibility of donning a pair of slip-on flats as opposed to lace-up sneakers in terms of footwear, again eliminating another step when it’s your turn to undress in the security line. However, some form of socks are certainly a necessity here, as God knows you don’t want to be treading barefoot through the same pathway thousands of other passengers have before you; “no-shows” are my go-to to retain that refined illusion of socklessness.
At one time I exclusively flew by backpack, but I have now incorporated an open tote bag into all my airport ensembles. Passport, boarding pass, etc. are all easily accessible, and eliminating a zipper means one less step in the deconstructive process that is airport security. The wristlet wallet is another added element that eases the constant shuffling between important documents. Mine is large enough to fit my passport, and the addition of that strap means I can let it dangle securely from my wrist, leaving my hands free to lug my inevitable multitude of bags behind me throughout my journey, while at the same time remaining only a quick pause and an unzip away for passing to the gate agent.
As a little bonus, I also highly recommend bringing an empty reusable water bottle with you to fill up once you’re through security. Most airports now have water-filling stations as well, saving you from having to purchase an overpriced, wasteful plastic bottle from a Hudson News. You can also ask your flight attendant to fill it up for you once you’re on the plane, since those little plastic cups they provide don’t supply nearly enough fluids to hydrate you for a multi-hour flight (this additionally eliminates another unnecessary plastic product from your conscience). Any reusable ware, from a mug for your coffee to a set of eating utensils, is a good investment for chucking into your carry-on. Flying is, of course, one of the worst contributors to your own personal contribution to atmospheric carbon concentrations, so any small thing you can do to eliminate extra waste in the process is at least an attempt to mitigate your overall environmental impact.
Though I once thought otherwise, it is possible to be both fashionable and comfortable amidst the gruelling process of air travel. And despite my complaints about crossing back and forth, it is always thrilling to embark on that plane knowing I’m privileged enough to have the experience of going to school abroad and making a life for myself on another continent. This is certainly an article of first world problems, a set of which I am every day extraordinarily grateful to have.