We tried every sort of clothing on a plane: And here's what we found out.
As a travel writer, you’d expect I’d have cracked the code of what to wear on planes by now. But no, I have spent years wearing the wrong thing on planes – finding myself hot and sticky in jeans, with red wine on my white shawl, and in clothes that seem to have shrunk mid-flight. But finally, I’ve cracked it. Here is what to (and crucially, what not to) wear on a plane.
This is not a bridal party
Take it from me, white is not what you want to be wearing while you’re sipping Shiraz at 60,000 feet. I recently flew long-haul wearing white jeans. I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea, other than the fact that these are in fact my comfiest jeans (high-waisted, stretchy, not too tight). I was also flying Business, so I wanted to look cool and collected while I pretended to belong amongst those who paid full-blow for this ticket. Needless to say, I spent the entire nine hours stressing over every sip of liquid and piece of chocolate gracing my now grubby hands. Black is a better, safer and all-around less stressy option.
Leave those whites at home...
Jeans are a terrible idea
It really was a double whammy on that flight with those white jeans. I have tried to wear jeans on flights since and again, I’m clearly a mad woman. Before you get on a plane, you never know if it’s going to be sweltering on the runway or freezing up in the air (or vice versa), and once you’re in those denims, there ain’t no way to cool down, other than taking them off (don’t do that). Even the stretchiest denim isn’t stretchy enough to allow you to contort yourself into all the positions necessary while attempting to sleep in Economy. And feeling sticky and hot in jeans while stuck inside a temporarily inescapable metal tube is just bloody ghastly. I know you love your jeans; we all love our jeans, but they have a time and a place. And it isn’t in seat 61D. Don’t do it to yourself.
Thought this was a plane ready outfit? Think again ...
Tight ain’t right
Pretty much everyone bloats on a plane – it’s to do with the pressure and it can take days to get that tummy back down to size. So if you go onto the plane wearing those skinny jeans and tight little t-shirt you love so much, you will more than likely find yourself a) increasingly uncomfortable, and b) landing looking like your clothes are two sizes too small.
Make an effort people
Being on a plane basically means you feel grimy and gross until you land and wash away all that recirculated filth, so the least you can do for your mental health is wear something vaguely presentable. I know you want to wear joggers and your comfy, old, stained sweatshirt, but not only does it give you zero chance of being upgraded, it also makes you feel like you’re slobbing out in front of hundreds of strangers. Which you are. Did you know that people used to dress up for plane journeys? Don’t disrespect them. Don’t disrespect yourself.
Dresses are not your friend
I used to have a stretchy cotton dress I called my ‘pyjama dress’ because it was so comfy it felt like pyjamas. The problem with wearing this, or any dress on a plane? As soon as you put your legs up against the seat in front, or curl up in a tiny ball like a mouse (if you’ve been graced with the gift of a vacant seat beside you), it’s going to be difficult to not show your underwear at some point during the flight, especially if you nod off. Dear reader, the shame.
Pretty? Yes. Practical? Not so much...
The ultimate combo
After many, many hours in the air, I think I’ve finally cracked the combo. It’s perfect. I can hardly believe it myself. From top to bottom, in the words of Michael Jackson, this is it:
Plain t-shirt + 1: Wear a loose-fitting t-shirt and bring a spare to change into halfway/on your transfer. You’ll feel miles better once you put something fresh on.
High waisted, stretchy, black leggings: Mine are Lululemon and full-length, and you basically feel naked when wearing them – in a good way.
Black blazer: When you wear a blazer over those leggings, no-one will even notice you’re wearing activewear. It instantly looks like an early Beatles-era suit. You can wear the blazer in the airport and then take it off when you’re on the plane.
Black cardigan: Cashmere is best for ultimate warmth, but really any woollen cardie will do – wear it once you take off your blazer on the plane so you feel cosy and a wee bit luxe.
White sandshoes: Any colour will work, but white is always chic – and sandshoes always seem to tick that smart/casual vibe.
Shawl: In case you get cold, and to jazz up that t-shirt.
I just wore this combo for 22 hours in the air, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ll never wear anything else again. I was so comfy I could barely contain myself. I wanted to tell everyone. And now I’m telling you. You’re welcome.