Collectively, as a team of editors, we’ve travelled a ton. Some of us even hop on more than 30 flights in the span of a year, and others have travelled to over 30 countries. All these in-flight hours have amounted to our team perfecting the art of packing (hello, ever heard of the 54321 trick for packing light?) and the art of the airport outfit—trust us, airport style is a thing. But we couldn’t have gained all our expertise without first practising some good old trial and error. Take it from us. There is a definitive list of items we’ve deemed as the worst airport clothing.
As much as we would love to file those cringe-worthy memories somewhere far, far away, we’re instead sharing our biggest airport outfit offences. Seriously, learn from our mistakes. Ranking high up on the list—and something all of us have regretfully done at some point—is wearing 100% cotton “rigid” jeans when flying. If you’ve ever sat squished into a middle seat on a long flight, you can imagine the level of discomfort that an unforgiving pair of jeans provides.
Ahead read up on our major airport outfit offences so you don’t make the same mistakes we once did.
“Without a doubt, wearing high-rise 100% cotton jeans is my biggest airport mistake, and I’m sad to admit that I’ve made it more than once. But I’ve finally learned my lesson and now refuse to wear anything but stretchy jeans when I fly.” — Allyson Payer, US senior editor
This stretchy pair will be much more forgiving.
A wide-leg pair is much more plane-friendly.
“Leggings with a lot of seams: This might sound oddly specific, but those trendy leggings with seams and panels all over them can really start to dig into you after a couple hours in the air, and it is not comfortable. Instead, wear simple leggings or track pants.” — Nicole Eshaghpour, US senior market editor
Lulu Lemon leggings are seriously soft.
With added stretch for long-haul travel.
“Walking through airport security with bare feet is a hard no. Even if I’m wearing ballet flats or some other sockless pair of shoes, I’ll stash a pair of socks in my tote to put on through security. Bombas have a lovely little mini cushion at the heel so they never slip down and help prevent blisters. Plus they’re a tad cosier than your average pair.” — Kat Collings, US editor in chief
What’s more, a pair is donated with every purchase.
This merino pair will keep you cosy.
“I thought that my pair of high-top Vans would make for a perfect pair of airport shoes—man, was I wrong. The thin laces and the high-top style make them one of the more difficult sneakers I own to take on and off. Not only did I hold up the line going through the TSA checkpoint, but I was also running late to my flight tying them up afterward. I’ve learned my lesson and will always fly in slip-on shoes wherever possible.” — Anna LaPlaca, US editor
These have just restocked.
Easy to slip on and off.
“One time I wore my tightest vintage jeans on a flight from NYC to L.A. and I was struggling the entire time. The high waistband was digging into my stomach, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I was basically miserable the entire flight. Sometimes I feel weird wearing leggings—less pulled together, I don’t know—so I now opt for a more casual ‘fit that has some give.” — Lauren Eggertsen, US editorial director
A smart look with a comfortable waist.
Silky styles are comfortable yet with an added polish.
“I mistakingly wore a T-shirt and shorts on the plane coming back from Florida once—it was so tempting to stay in them because of the humidity. However, I hate having no barrier between me and the dirty airplane seat! I always remember to bring a hoodie so I can raise the hood and protect my hair from the seat—classic germaphobe move.” — Erin Fitzpatrick, US senior news editor
Pangaia has pretty much every shade you could want.
I’m a big fan of this boxy shape.
“As much as I love wearing white, it’s not my friend, especially when I’m lugging a suitcase, a tote, snacks, and way too many beverages around the airport. I flew from Berlin to the States in July and wore a pair of wide-leg, white linen pants because of how comfy and breathable they are only for me to spill a latte and chocolate on them. I couldn’t exactly wash them mid-flight so I’m still living in regret because the stain never fully came out.” — Eliza Huber, US editor
Darker fabrics are much more forgiving.
A smarter jogger for those who long for fashion-forward comfort.
“For the airport, I make sure to avoid wearing anything with metal, whether it’s cap-toe shoes, silver hardware belts, or leather jackets with zippers and snaps. That way, I can avoid any delays in the security line.” — Kristen Nichols, US associate director
A great addition to any wardrobe.
A relaxed shape that won’t look dishevelled after a long flight.
“I’m a frequent flyer, so I’ve got dressing for the airport down to a science by now. My only regret is once wearing a lightweight cardigan when flying back from Florida during a New York City winter. Obviously, I didn’t want to lug around a heavy coat during my travels, but at least a jacket would’ve been nice. I always wear one to the airport now no matter how hot it is where I’m travelling.” — Sierra Mayhew, US fashion editor
Rely on this for years to come.
Size up for a more relaxed fit.
Plus, if you don’t need it you can store it away in a sleek carry on.
This post was published on an earlier date and has since been refreshed.