Looking For The Right Airport Outfit? There Isn’t One

Photo Courtesy of Ebony-Renee Baker.
Right now the internet is awash with airport-themed “get ready with me” videos and airport fit checks that showcase creators in crisp matching tracksuits, skin-tight unitards, platform slides, and Goyard handbags — full faces of makeup done and shiny Rimowa suitcases in tow.  
In an age where micro-trends and social media-fuelled aesthetics set unrealistic or unaffordable expectations for everyday outfits, the idea that we need carefully-curated ensembles for the world’s most tedious mode of transportation has gotten, frankly, out of hand. 
Google searches for terms like “airport outfit womens” and “airport outfit dress to impress” have increased by over 5000% over the last month alone (in the US and UK, respectively), according to our in-house insights team. On TikTok, the hashtag #airportoutfit currently has almost 38,000 posts, while there are over 20,000 for #airportfashion. Airports used to be places we exclusively did not care to document, but now they’ve become certified runways — just like the average street corner. 
“I don’t want to be horrible but can we please stop with the leggings and the crop top?”, one TikTok creator asks in a video posted in May, instead suggesting cycling shorts and overshirts, or tailored trousers and sandals. In another, a user captioned their video: “this is your sign to stop dressing lazy: airport edition,” with the lazy outfit being a hoodie, joggers and trainers, and her recommended outfits including jeans, a mini skirt and ballet flats
In a video for Vogue Italia last year, Kendall Jenner showed off an airport outfit consisting of jeans, a leather jacket, and heeled boots. Heeled. Boots. Of course, Jenner would almost certainly be flying on a private jet with her luggage handled by someone else; definitely not having to endure long, sweaty security queues or having to shove her travel toiletries into a tiny clear bag as if it were a timed game show. And yet, even Jenner added that she changes into leggings for the actual flight. “Don’t get it twisted, I am not wearing these jeans on the airplane,” she said to the camera. 
Thanks to a combination of celebrity culture and social media trends, our ideas of what to wear to the airport have been skewed in contrasting directions. At the same time, this issue may simply fall into the very common, underlying condition of being too online. As with most public spaces, a general baseline for airport dressing should be: wear something that is weather appropriate, non-offensive, and ideally, washed. 
When I asked my colleagues about airport fashion trends, most said they opt for comfort rather than trends, considering more relevant factors like the length of flights and purpose of their trips. Our fashion director Irina Grechko said that her airport outfits depend on whether she’s going on a work trip and meeting people right when she lands (more curated) versus on a personal holiday (more casual). Personally, I like to dress comfortably and practically with yoga pants, t-shirts, jumpers and my everyday jewellery stack to avoid tangling en route. As I write this however, I am en route to a work trip in Berlin, so I’ve dressed up slightly, with an airy maxi skirt, graphic tee, leather jacket and trainers — all of which I will repurpose during my trip.

Putting in effort makes it special. And I think it’s good to remember that these things are still special and that we’re lucky to be travelling.

- My Colleague, Jess
Another colleague, Jess Aureli, told me she likes to put effort into her travel outfits and attributes it to her Italian upbringing, which taught her to always make a good impression. “It makes it special, and I think it’s good to remember that these things are still special and that we’re lucky to be travelling,” she said. Ultimately, clothing is and has always been about self-expression. So anything you choose to wear, including to the airport, should help you to feel comfortable and confident. If that’s a tailored suit and wedge heels, go for it. 
@kitkeenan Someone find a pool of purell asap 🤮🔥 #airportoutfit ♬ original sound - Max
Instead of aiming to look the part for the airport — and buying new outfits unnecessarily — try to seek out useful tips instead. Kirsty Glenne, managing director at heritage British travel brand Antler says comfort is always the priority. “There are small tweaks you can make to elevate a comfy outfit. I love sets with loose silhouettes, which can easily be layered up or down depending on the climates you’re travelling between. Always make sure you have a warm jumper in your hand luggage as planes often get quite chilly,” Glenne says. “I also like to pack some athleisure wear for longer haul journeys — they’re great for wearing on the plane when you don’t want to feel restricted.”
Realistically, no one likes sitting in the same clothes they wore on a cramped plane seat for hours, so you’re likely going to change as soon as you can post-flight anyway. With all of these things considered, I think it’s safe to say there is no “right” airport outfit. Just do your thing. 

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