This Is What You Should Be Wearing When You Travel

There's something to be said about the woman who still dresses to the nines at the airport; she's elegant, she's evolved, and she respects the glamour of travel — but doesn't she also limp the entire half-mile trek to the end of the terminal? If your clothes prevent you from getting past security swiftly, booking it to your gate, and sitting comfortably for your three- or 13-hour flight, it's time to reassess. You can still exercise a little dressing-effort without sporting a Sunday hangover look out in public, and we have the 18 style solutions ahead to prove it.
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There's an entire wardrobe world out there that exists between pajamas and formalwear — with plenty of clothes that not only help you get snuggly in your seat but also make transitional sense when the wheels touch down. So, in anticipation of all your warm-weather wandering, we put together an outfit manual for in-flight and beyond to reference before you book that Uber to the airport.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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A Cotton Kaftan



Made of natural fibers, this beach-friendly dress works with leggings and sneakers on the plane but is completely vacation ready for the rest of your trip paired with sandals. It’s as cozy as a nightgown, but with a design suitable for deboarding and heading straight to a poolside lunch.
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The Elevated Scrunchie



Airplanes have a way of putting our sebaceous glands into overdrive, making our hair feel like it’s been through a week of skipped showers even if our flight was simply an overnight one. If your blowout can’t be salvaged once you touch down, pull your tresses back with a stylish scrunchie to make your emergency ponytail look intentional.
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The Goldilocks Legging



If there was one item of clothing we’d have to take to a deserted island, it would probably be leggings. The same goes for travel — nothing is more of a layering and comfort workhorse that this stretchy, second-skin pant. However, the legging in question must be just right, and summer voyages call for a layer that won’t suffocate you. We found a lightweight pair (made from recycled fishnets) that will keep you ventilated and covered.
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The Slip-On Sneaker



No one wants to be the person who holds everyone up in the security line with pesky laces or thigh-hugging boots that just won't come off. Keep things simple and efficient with a chic and comfortable pair of sneakers you can slip on and off with ease.
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Stretchy Jeans



If you're set on wearing denim during your journey, make sure to opt for a pair that contains fabric fibers that move (i.e., you won't find us wearing any Levi's Wedgies mid-flight — we’ll save those for when we land). Look for jeans with a hint of spandex so that you can look tough on the outside, but stay comfy on the inside.
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A Slashie Textile: Scarf / Blanket / Towel



Get yourself a natural Turkish cotton swath of fabric that can do it all. This three-in-one wonder is absorbent, soft and matches absolutely everything from your airplane outfit to your beach chair.
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Elastic-Waist Palazzo Pant



There’s a reason that this silhouette conjures something we refer to as the “jet set.” We’re just now discovering what glamorous, well-traveled women have known for generations: the palazzo pant is a stylish-but-easy-wearing secret weapon, especially with a forgiving waistline and a light-as-air fabrication.
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A Lightweight Cardigan



Sure, you’re destined for a summer vacation, but between snagging your hometown taxi and arriving at your hotel destination, you’re sure to encounter some major temperature fluctuations. A cotton cardigan in a peppy color will make sure you adjust to any and all environment changes with pizzazz.
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The Most Comfortable Bra That Money Can Buy



Do yourself — and your girls — a favor by getting a new, perfectly-fitting, frippery-free bra for your journey. Discomfort awaits you in that crowded, abnormally frigid cabin, and the last thing you need is a rogue wire digging into your sides. 1,340 customers vouched for the comfort of this seamless t-shirt bra, aptly named the Cloud 9.
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A Utility Layer



When stepping off the plane after several hours of hunching, sitting, and dozing off, you may be rumpled beyond repair and in need of something to hide the evidence of your journey. A chic nylon trench can unfurl from your carry-on with a whisper and add some polish to your outfit until you can get to the hotel and change.
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The Deceptively Sturdy Slide



Just because your footwear has to be durable enough to withstand the trek from long-term parking to security to the gate, doesn’t mean it can’t be ready for jaunt down to the pool too. There are plenty of cute, summer-friendly shoes in the world that also rank high on the comfort and walkability scale. Bonus points if you find a slide like this one, for easy removal in the security line.
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Cute Socks



We’ve all been there. Even though the weather is warm at both origin and destination, you’re enough of a travel pro to have remembered your layers for the masochistically icy plane ride. However, while you took great care to cover your upper extremities, you didn’t think about footwear, and now your sandal-clad feet are freezing. It’s easy to throw an extra pair of socks into your carry-on to prevent this imbalance — and with a pair this cute, you may even end up keeping them on upon arrival.
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An Easy Skirt



Knit skirts make for great plane-wear — you can stand, stretch, bend, and curl up without worrying about looking rumpled when you deplane. An elongated pencil silhouette lends an added dose of sophistication, without any of the restrictive lines normally associated with this style.
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The Technical Trouser



If you're traveling for work, a suiting pant that’s got some give is going to be able to move and stretch as you move and stretch, without ending up crisscrossed in wrinkles. The trick is to find a pair with a touch of Lycra and synthetic fibers.
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The Belt Bag



Keeping your essentials close at hand is, well, essential when you’re on the move. Phone, passport, Advil, headphones: these are things that seem to disappear into your bottomless pit of a carry-on the second you need them. Keep all of these items at the ready in a nifty belt bag and breeze through that passport checkpoint like a pro.
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A Drawstring Short



Easy on/off drawstring closure, quick drying, and pockets for hands and shells makes this pair of shorts essential for your your carry-on so you can have an effortless airport bathroom quick change. These work with a tee and sneakers or can be gussied up with mules and matching top for a trendy summer '19 look that not everyone will get, but that's ok if you're into it as much as we are.
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The “Vacation Starts Now” Top



So you’ve followed this guide, and you’re all decked out in practical gear that’s going to ensure smooth and comfortable transit. Now you owe it to yourself to lighten up — cap your outfit off with a vacation-ready top that’s going to suit the leisurely, carefree vibes at your destination. A long-sleeved viscose blouse will keep you covered up, but is lightweight enough to keep you cool when you arrive at your tropical getaway.
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The Cool-Girl Matching Set



Those 7 AM takeoffs can be cruel, and temptation to roll out of bed still in your PJs and hop right into the taxi is strong. Luckily, it’s possible to do this and still look chic: a loose matching set will keep you taxi-ing in total comfort, but the matchy-matchiness makes your look feel streamlined, effortless, and jet-setting.

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