What to wear on plane

Suggestions for what to wear while traveling? Want to be warm and comfortable. Jeans? Sweats? Pack something to change into before landing in the carryon? Advice appreciated.

Posted by Karen
800 posts

Lori - when I'm traveling in the summer I like to wear a long skirt and sandals as I find it more comfortable to sit in a looser outfit for the flight. I can also tuck my feet under the skirt if I'm cold. I bring a light sweater and/or shawl that keeps me warm enough for the flight. In winter when I'm not going to bring a skirt anyway I will wear my most comfortable jeans and slip on shoes. I would never wear sweats because I would not wear them in public and see no use in bringing a separate outfit just to wear on the plane. If I am not doing carry-on for some reason, then I'll pack a pair of underwear and another tee-shirt top in my separate carry-on (along with toiletries) in case my bag gets lost. But otherwise I don't change before landing.

Posted by ed
355 posts

I go with comfort over looks. A few pointers: * Wear something on the plane you will use for other uses. You should not have a "plane only" outfit. But it is okay if that other use is PJs. * You body will expand with the change of air pressure. Tight fitting clothing will be extremely uncomfortable. (I had a friend who literally could not get her jeans closed after using the toilet. They were tight on her before we left and with the change in air pressure you should not close them. She had been complaining about the pain of them cutting her before going to the bathroom.) * Shoes should be easy to take off and put on. You are going to want to take them off on the plane but need to put them back on to go to the toilet. * Pockets can be handy. * I would rather wear sweats on the plane and change in the airport restroom than wear uncomfortable clothes on the plane. (Particularly true on red eyes) * Wear layers. Sometimes the plane is hot. Sometimes the plane is cool. Often in changes during the flight. I remember one domestic flight during the winter in which my gf had on a very thick sweatshirt and for some reason the plane was extremely hot. Being she wasn't willing to just be in her bra she had to leave the sweatshirt on. Had she worn a tee shirt under the sweatshirt she could have been much more comfortable.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1839 posts

I wear jeans (shorts if I'm traveling in the summer), a T-shirt, and tennis shoes. I'm always concerned about being too hot so I don't bring a sweater on the plane. Overseas flights provide blankets (they haven't started charging for them yet, have they?) and that's enough warmth for me. I try to carry on my stuff and I put my liquids in my backpack, under the seat, so that I can brush my teeth and wash my face on the plane.

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
1146 posts

I wear stretchy travel pants and a lightweight, longsleeved jacket. I wear soft houseslippers with rubber soles. They are comfortable and can be worn into the bathrooms. Of course, I change into my regular shoes when we land, but the travel outfit looks fine to wear anywhere.

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1423 posts

Layers for sure. It's always really hot on board the plane before takeoff and usually about an hour into the flight, then it inevitably gets colder. I bring jeans to Europe, but never wear them on a flight that long. I stick to wearing long black yoga pants (the kind that look more like dress pants than sweats when the waistband is covered with a sweater), short sleeve tee and a long cardigan sweater. I wear slip on shoes since they get you through the security screening quicker. In the top of the carry on I will sometimes pack a warmer pair of socks to wear if the plane is super cold overnight, my own sleep mask and a pair of foam earplugs to block out noise.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

'You body will expand with the change of air pressure.' Probably not unless it has to do with something you eat and your gut expands until ..... Cabin pressurization is somewhere between five and eight grand - - a difference of about eight inches of mecrury which isn't very much. Even with sudden decompression at altitudes much higher than air carriers use, the only concern is that there isn't enough oxygen in the thin air - - it's not as though you blow up like a squashed tomato. Using that logic, you'd need one set of clothes for Cannes (sea level) and another for Grindelwald (ten thousand), plus a longer money belt strap - - the problems would be endless.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9473 posts

I never wear jeans,, I wouldn't sleep in them at home, so not onboard either,, they start to feel very uncomfy affter 8 hours ( and it takes me at least 12 hours actually flying not to mention layovers etc). I like black yoga type pants , they are soft and comfy, take up little room when packed, and are easy to wash and air dry while travelling .

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1697 posts

I personally agree with no jeans because I find them too hot, especially if you are sitting too long on tarmac just waiting to get airborne. As others have said, layer with maybe t shirt and then sweatshirt over. I like shorts or even better for me is a skirt. Wear what is comfortable also.

Posted by Maureen
1357 posts

Ditto on the no jeans. They're just not comfortable enough. I have some black stretchy pants that are comfy and will hide any spills. That and a knit top. Then I wear socks and shoes that are easy to slip on and off. I'm like Karen, if I'm checking luggage, then I put a ziplock with a change of clothes in my carry-on, just in case something happens to the checked luggage. But I don't change on the plane. Something I do like to do is take my toothbrush, toothpaste, facewash, and moisturizer on the plane. So when I wake up, I can brush my teeth and wash my face and feel human again. I've done it in the Frankfurt airport once, but those bathrooms are notoriously tiny, so I'd rather do it on the plane.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6558 posts

I don't know about the rest of the body, but feet and legs tend to swell on flights. Just look at how many people take their shoes off as soon as they sit down. If the shoes I will wear on the plane are either close-fitting or difficult to take on and off, I'll bring a pair of slippers - especially for the toilet but also if my feet get cold. I also put all the things I am likely to need during the flight in a large ziplock bag - iPod, pen, kleenex, lip balm, hand cream (especially on long flights the air gets very dry), etc. - so I don't have to fish through a bunch of other stuff during the flight. Also I can keep everything in the bag - the bottoms of the seat-back pouches can be really icky.

Posted by Margaret
813 posts

My suggestion (and the clothing "recipe" that works well for me is): On plane: wear short (just above knee) black knit, elastic waist JJill or similar skirt. Short sleeve cotton blend t-shirt, light-weight boxy cotton jacket (with two small easy-to-reach pockets on the front). My "plane-jacket" is relatively short-waisted...easier to move around, I find. I also wear a colorful long scarf around my neck. Black tights and black comfy round-toe slip-on relatively flat shoes. (If winter: substitute a turtle-neck cotton shirt for the short-sleeve shirt). I find the shorter-type skirt works better and does not drag on an eww-gross, late-in-flight restroom floor (as a long skirt or slacks might). This same outfit still looks great for first-landing-day wear, and components are definitely recycled throughout the trip. All easy to sink wash. I usually take only two black skirts, the one worn on the plane and then a long, ankle-length long black cotton knit skirt. Changing colorful scarves, fake pearls, shawls, etc. I have a huge number of outfits with just a handful of colorful and black knit tops. If hiking a pair of shorts is also packed. Packable, wide-brim hat, too. My spouse and I can each "do" a two-week vacation out of one RS rollaboard each, and with a canvas tote each as our "personal item." My spouse always wears a long-sleeve Brooks Brothers type shirt, kahki trousers, study loafers, and a sports-coat (which comes off), and a cotton sweater is put on if chilly (or is used as an extra pillow). We also take two inflatable pillows in our totes (with folded pillow cases). If I get super chilly, his sports coat is simply on top a rollaboard in the overhead, but the plane blankets are usually enough.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9302 posts

"The swelling of feet occurs due to a lack of movement and the blood pools down in your feet. It isn't due to the pressure." Apparently, according to the 3rd paragraph of the article in the link, low cabin pressure is one of several factors causing swelling of fee, in addition to reduced leg movement: "The low cabin pressure as well as the dry air circulating in the airplane may also inhibit blood circulation and cause swollen feet. When you're dehydrated, your blood gets a bit thicker, which also reduces circulation."

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

The cited article has what are probably good suggestions, but the devil's in the details. Parts of the rational might be true, but seem out of context. Symptons of dehydration don't occur until there's at least a five percent loss of body weight. People's feet swell on long trips in trains, buses, and cars. Altitude is not a factor. Blood pools in lower extremities due to lack of use. I've spent a lot of time wearing a g-suit, but none wearing g-boots and don't seem too much the worse for wear. Had the article been reviewed by a flight surgeon or aviation physiologist, it would have probably been a bit different.

Posted by Diane
Silverdale, WA, USA
105 posts

Whatever it is that causes the swelling in the feet - for me it is a huge problem so I wear compression socks, don't take my shoes off for fear they will not come back on, and do lots of ankle/leg stretches and circles and drink as much water as I can drink. I agree with not wearing jeans - there isn't enough "give" in the fabric to be comfortable. Layers are also a good idea - sometimes you don't want to use the blankets provided.

Posted by Mira
630 posts

I have a formula: black leggings, t-shirt or tank top, long cardigan (long because leggings aren't quite pants, so things need to be covered for modesty while up and walking around! But with decent leggings the cardigan can be off while sitting on the plane without issue), and slip on flats. The leggings serve as pajama pants on the trip while taking up not much more room than a pair of hiking socks, the top can be pjs or regular clothes, and the cardigan is a color that goes with everything else I packed. Then on the flight the cardigan can be off or on depending on temp, the shoes slip off easily, and it is comfortable. I pack a decent outfit for the next day - I don't like wearing the same clothes during the day as on an overnight flight, changing and getting ready on the plane in the AM helps me with jet lag!

Posted by Margaret
813 posts

Miranda, please help me understand how and where you change your clothes on the plane. I'm open to learning something new. The restroom just does not have enough space for me (I'm thin, but tall). But, granted, people seem to accomplish all sorts of things in plane restrooms.......LOL. I've always had to wait after landing until I get my hotel room, and I love it when a room is ready late morning :) Most times luggage is just stored at the hotel until afternoon.

Posted by Mira
630 posts

hm, I've never had a problem in the airplane restrooms, but I'm short. Not especially thin, but not plus-sized either. It does take some creativity and twisting, so I can see how a taller person could have trouble. I did use the airport restroom after landing once due to sleeping until we were in the middle of landing.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4630 posts

Well, if Miranda flies American Airlines, I now know why the bathroom line got so long! If I am going to change I wait until I get to the airport. The bathrooms are bigger and have other amenities at times. ; ) I prefer pants on a long trip, but I too like ones that stretch and move with your body. I do bring some layers with me as well because airplanes can definitely be cool! BTW if you're checking luggage you should always pack another outfit in your carry on. You never know when the dreaded lost luggage bug will hit you. Pam

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

I don't remember if it was a local issue or I I read in a travel magazine but a lady sued an airlines because they denied her the privilege to sit in first class because she was in her pajamas, can't remember if they were more like scrubs or more like sweat pants with big letters on the bottom. The airline felt that more professional attire was in order to be able to sit in first class. I guess this could take us back to the days where people wore their Sunday best on a plane because it was such a special thing to do. Me, I just wear 1 of the 2 pairs of jeans that I bring to Europe. The more they are worn, the better they feel. I fly towards the winter time, so the extra warmth is nice. Since I only bring my boots, I am thinking this time around, maybe I will bring some slippers for extra comfort.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

In summer I usually wear a midcalf skirt, tank top, and some kind of soft jacket, and the only pair of shoes I bring (Birkenstocks) I also carry a black pashmina to use as a blanket if I need it. In winter I wear the same thing only a heavier skirt, leggings, tank top and a soft hoodie, and the only pair of winter shoes I bring (Haflinger) and a lightweight velvet unlined coat. I layer whether it is winter or summer.
I want to be comfortable, but do not want to arrive in sweats...

Posted by Leslie
Atlanta, Georgia
483 posts

I second all the ladies who say wear a skirt and take a scarf. I usually wear all black too to hide the stains. I hit the ground running when I get there so I get adjusted immediately to the time change and since I'm dressed for it I don't waste time trying to check in to the hotel etc. If you feel you have to wear sweats or jammies or whatever, I promise you won't be under dressed. The arrival halls at major EU airports look like 'refugees fleeing the homeland' when a US originated flight arrives. Also look at the Chicos Travelers line of clothes if you don't like skirts. My mom swears by it and she looked nice enough we got bumped to first class on three separate intercontinental flights. Since I am by no means a light packer, I wear my most expensive clothes on the flight in case my bag gets lost too. If you are a light packer, wear the heavy layers and shed them in the overhead compartment.

Posted by Michael 1
Phoenix, AZ, USA
1035 posts

"Shoes should be easy to take off and put on. You are going to want to take them off on the plane but need to put them back on to go to the toilet." Seriously, people who take your shoes off on a flight, it's not your living room, leave the shoes on. If you absolutely must, please be civilized and at least put slippers on. Gross.

Posted by Karen
508 posts

What is gross about taking off your shoes and still having clean socks on? I'm not leaving on my shoes the whole flight. Comfortable pants, comfortable top and shoes that are easy to slip off while I am in my seat.

Posted by Maureen
1357 posts

As far as the dress code for first class -- I don't know if the airlines have a specific dress code for first class, but they do for airline employees, in case they get bumped up to first class. We have a strict code we have to follow when flying with my husband -- no jeans, no shorts, no open-toed shoes, MUST wear socks, no sneakers, things like that. I've had agents at check-in lean over the desk to check out what shoes I was wearing.

Posted by Jen
Charlotte, NC, USA
78 posts

i have a standard long-flight outfit of a t-shirt dress over leggings with ballet flats and a scarf and/or sweater in case i'm cold. this has worked for me twice in first class on European trips...great because leggings are easy to sleep in. and i mean actual leggings...like cotton yoga pants, or the ones that Europeans typically wear as pants. NOT tights or anything see-through. also great because they're popular clothing in Europe, so you can wear them the whole trip and look like a local.

Posted by Diane
Silverdale, WA, USA
105 posts

Re taking shoes off - I have to say that I got stuck next to a person who not only took her shoes off, but curled her bare feet up on the seat resting them on my thigh. Yuck! I was returning from Europe and had a cold and was hopped up on benadryl - I said nothing that time but should this happen again, there are not enough drugs that will prevent me from having a little chat :-). If you take your shoes off- that's your choice, but please don't inflict your feet on your fellow passengers - literally!

Posted by D.D.
375 posts

Diane, I feel for you. I once had a woman behind me stick her bare foot between my seat and the window, resting it on my armrest. Her toes were inches from my nose. I insisted she remove them from my space. But back to the original question: there are many comfortable clothing choices that also look presentable when you get off the plane. I like pants with a stretchy waistband and a soft layered top. I've seen women wearing their pajamas. I mean actual big plaid flannel pajama pants and furry slippers. Now, that's ridiculous.

Posted by Mme Eli
1170 posts

Comfortable shoes that you can slip off when going through security. Comfortable pants or skirt. I always carry a cardigan for those cold flights and airports, plus I have a nice pair of pants that are very comfortable and I call them my travelling pants. Looks smart enough, but does not restrict me in anyway on the flight. Jeans would be awful (for me), so I never wear them on a flight. This time coming back from Europe, I packed my heavier shoes and wore my little ballerina flats. Was comfy, easy to get on and off and my feet were happy :-) Don't forget a pair of socks for your flight.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1617 posts

My normal plane clothing: Black yoga pants (Lululemon that I also use in my yoga classes) Light stylish T-shirt (JCrew) Sports Bra (less pinching, comfortable for sleeping) Light cotton/mix sweater
Toms or my Chaco Sandals (depends on the season of travel) I can wear all this clothing while touring. On the plane I find that none of these items bind or pinch. Most of it is Black so travels well and can be mixed with other items in my suitcase. I don't bring extra clothing on board to change into...I deal with wearing the same outfit for 12 -15 hours. Usually wear one pair of earrings, and only travel with one pair.