There’s something interesting and fun about airport style. Whether you’re thinking of the jet set age when flying was considered a fancy-pants affair, and everyone dressed their Sunday best (also when “Sunday best” meant something), or you’re thinking of the latest image of your favorite celebrity disembarking from their recent vacation, airport style holds its own unique place among travel and style sites. There’s something a bit more authentic about it, knowing that this stylish person must also actually be considering comfort. This isn’t the red carpet where a celeb can take short breaths for a few hours for a ten pound dress. This is someone who, no matter how rich and famous, still had to take a cross-ocean or cross-country flight, and they still somehow look good. I could go into all the reasons why putting a bit of effort into your appearance while flying is important beyond superficial reasons, but you’re not reading this post for convincing. So, without further ado:

1. For easy airport style, think easy, comfortable outfit combinations. 

If you’re searching for a quick 30 second idea, here are some quick outfit combinations to choose from, depending on what kind of weather you’re traveling through:

loose dress + cardigan + sandals

oversized shirt + leggings + sandals/flats

light jacket + v-neck + jeggings + flats/sneakers

oversized sweater + leggings + ankle boots

Think cotton and think breathable. Also think light layers. You don’t know how cold or hot the airplane will be, and there’s nothing worse than quietly sweating and feeling smelly as the hours reach the double digits.

2. Avoid the following:

Jeans. I don’t get it. If you really find them way more comfortable than leggings, more power to you, but I just can’t wear them and feel at ease. They dig into my waist, especially when I feel bloated up in the air, and even the stretchiest kind is restricting. Also, in terms of how they look, my jeans always seem to be a bit baggy on me (#shortgirlprobs)

Heels. You show me a more comfortable pair of heels than my ankle boots or flats that also look better, I’ll consult you on style for the rest of my life. I wore wedges once on my flight from Incheon to Philly, but I’d be lying if wearing my Birkenstocks wouldn’t have been more comfortable.

Certain Fabrics. Polyester, specifically. Some of my dresses that are comfortable, are just not breathable, and all that travel is going to induce some kind of heat in my armpits. And that combination is just not my cup of tea on a long flight.

Easily Wrinkled Fabrics. Nothing says disheveled flier like choosing skirts and shirts that wrinkle after an hour of sitting in one place.

3. Pull from clothes you know you love.

Boarding a flight is not your first day of school. It’s not the time to whip out those pants or dress or shoes you just got and haven’t worn for more than an hour consecutively. Wear your tried and true Chucks, or that shirt you know you could sleep in for days.

4. Keep you carry-on light and minimal.

For my flight from Korea to the US, I typically get a 10 lb carry-on and a personal item (besides the two 50 lb suitcases I get) When I flew to San Francisco, I put everything into a check-in bag, and kept only my tote with me. It was light enough for me to carry, and I didn’t have to try and balance a bunch of different bags and mini bags. Also, I personally avoid wearing backpacks because they allow me to overpack (and thus jut out and strike at any given moment), very rarely look like my idea of stylish (good backpacks are built more for utility in mind and not so much looking good with your dress), and make my back sweaty in about 10 seconds flat. Even my favorite backpack is avoided because of that last one. Can you tell I hate sweating?

10 Basics of Airport Style

5. Look at your carry-on and take out a quarter.

Speaking of your carry-on, go in there and take out a quarter of what you’ve got. Ultimately you don’t need a lot for an airplane ride, even for the longest of ones. Think: do you really need a laptop, a phone, an iPad/e-reader, and goodness knows what other technology there is? Do you need your bag stuffed with snacks and all sorts of pillow/blanket combinations? And do you really need a whole outfit in the fear that your suitcase will be lost? A clean pair of underwear should be sufficient.

6. If flying for over 5 hours, do yourself a favor and avoid make-up.

Trust me, 99% of women (and men!) do not look nearly as bad as they think they do without make-up, and you’ll be just fine without it for your long plane ride. If it’s a shorter one, and you want to hit the ground running, then my all means go through your steps. But on a flight you’ll most likely try to sleep on, make-up is just a hassle. It’s either clogging your pores or forcing you on an unnecessary trip to the bathroom to clean it all off. Before you head to the airport, just wash your face and apply a good moisturizer so it feels fresh and clean.

7. Sunglasses are your friend…only at certain times of the day.

I used to be really against sunglasses in the airport because they just seemed so silly, but I have since realized their benefits – instant coverage and sometimes it really is quite sunny out! With that said, if you’re rolling up for a 6 a.m. flight in sunglasses… Just, no.

8. Essentials for a good liquids bag:

Here’s what I pack in my liquids bag: a travel-size deodorant, a lip balm, toothpaste/ toothbrush, hand sanitizer, travel sized face cream, hand cream, travel-sized or sample-sized face wash, and a face mask. That’s it. Keep it light!

9. Get your haircut, facial, etc the day before you fly out.

You know how your hair feels amazing right after a haircut? Between the way they wash it, cut it, and style it, you walk out feeling like a million bucks (if you don’t, I suggest you change your hair salon immediately). Simply schedule for an appointment the night before, make sure you’re all clean and ready to go, and this way when you head to the airport the next day, you’re feeling as fresh as can be. Same logic applies to facials, massages, and other beauty treatments you get done regularly.

10. When you get off your flight, go to the nearest bathroom and splash your face.

There’s always a bathroom right after you disembark. Head in there, quickly splash your face, dab on some face cream, and you’ll feel 100 times better. Heck wet a paper towel and dab your armpits while you’re at it.


Those are my basics for good airport style! Remember, at the end of the day, if you feel amazing in your pajama pants and slippers, than by all means wear them. Airport style, like all style, is up to you and you alone.

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