This week, more people will travel than any other week during the year.  In fact, according to AAA more than 42.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday of which a 3.4 million of those leisure travelers are expected to hit the skies.

Being a frequent flyer, I have mastered the art of plane travel and figuring out how to pull a look together that is not only somewhat stylish, but also functional and comfortable.  Few of us want to land at our destination looking like we just rolled out of bed, however, in the interest of comfort and function (not to mention getting through the TSA as quickly as possible), don’t want to get too gussied up either.  How do you strike that balance of function and style at the same time?

Here are a few of my tips:


While sweats would certainly suffice, to maintain a sense of style, it’s not exactly the best thing wear on the plane.  Instead, I always choose a comfortable pair of jeans or a pair of of leggings.  I don’t recommend a skin-tight pair jeans because most people swell a bit while flying.  However, a slim pair of jeans with some stretch is a great foundational piece for your look. Leggings are great for a long flight where comfort is important but you still want to look pulled together.

Personally, I don’t recommend a skirt because flights can get cold and you may not get the coverage to keep warm that you need. You could go with a maxi-dress for a long flight which would help if you experience major bloating while in the air, but be sure to have enough layers with you to stay warm while in transit.  This leads me to my next suggestion.

A Large Scarf

Over the past 4 years, I estimate that I’ve taken nearly 200 flights and I have never once flown without a large pashmina-type scarf that I either wear to the airport or stow away in my carry on bag.  These days it’s just about impossible to find a blanket on a flight and it’s quite likely that your neighbor blasting the air vent above will ice you out.

Oh and a quick tip: Even if you wear the pashmina to the airport, stow it away in your carry-on before you go through security as opposed to wearing it.  Doing this will give you one less thing to mess with while going through the scanners.

Easy on and easy off shoes

Nothing is worse than the person in front of you lacing off their shoes before going through the TSA checkpoint.  My biggest rule of thumb is to never wear shoes that I can’t slip on and off at security.  My shoe of choice depends on when I am flying.  If it is in the winter, I always wear my Classic UGG boots.  Not only do they slip right off at security but they also keep my feet warm for the flight and are roomy enough if my feet swell while flying.   When it’s warmer, I usually go for a pair of
ballerina flats
or easy off sandals and then pack a pair of socks for the flight  that I put on once I board so I can keep my feet warm while in transit.   Oh, and a little tip, put your shoes through the x-ray machine at the TSA checkpoint first.  If they’re easy on and off shoes you can slip them back on while your other things are being scanned which enables you to grab-and-go vs. having to find a place to sit down and put your shoes back on.


A cardigan is a great thing to wear on your flight.  Imagine a complete look with a comfortable pair of jeans or leggings, a pair of ballerina flats, a cardigan and a pashmina scarf tied around your neck—chic and elegant, not to mention functional.  A cardigan is better than a big bulky sweater because there are always those crowded flights where the air conditioning doesn’t work and you will want to remove a few layers vs. adding them.  The cardigan you choose should not be too precious and should not wrinkle easily.   I have a great one from Forever 21 that I paid next to nothing for and is generous in shape so I can wrap myself up in it, is lightweight so it’s less bulk and I can basically smush it into a ball and turn it into a makeshift pillow, if necessary.  When I am done using and abusing my cardigan during my flight, it still keeps its shape looks great to throw back on when I arrive at my final destination.

Accessories- Sunglasses and a Hat

Accessories are hardly important on a flight.  The last thing you want to do is unhook and unclasp at the TSA checkpoint.   Keep jewelry to a minimum, but I do recommend a pair of
.   When I’m on flight nine in four days, the bags under my eyes are larger than my carry-on.  If you want to look stylish when you are flying, sunglasses are a great way to hide that fact that you feel bedraggled.   They can also dim the lighting of a cabin if you want to get some sleep.  Plus, if you really don’t feel like being social with your chatty neighbor, sunglasses usually send a message that you’re not interested in idle chitchat.

A hat is another fantastic thing to bring on a flight.  The air quality during a flight can do some serious damage to both your skin and hair.  I often feel filmy when I arrive at my final destination.  Therefore, having a hat that you can throw on   is a great way to cover up your mangy mane and still look chic.  I recommend a hat that can easily be stowed in your carry on, like a knit cap, for example.  If you don’t like hats, throwing your hair up in a high ponytail before you get off the flight is another solution.  I don’t recommend a ponytail during the flight, however, as it makes it hard to easily rest your head on your seat’s headrest.

Some other quick tips:

  • If you really swell try packing a pair of compression stockings.  While not the most attractive things, they really do keep the swelling away, at least according to my friend Cheryl who is a frequent flyer as well.  She swears by this pair by Futuro .
  • If you’re heading somewhere warm, but leaving from somewhere cold, leave the coat at home.  There is no point lugging it with you and will only be another thing to carry with you on the flight.  If you do need a coat for your final destination, consider packing it in your checked luggage, or bring one that can easily be stored in the overhead compartment bin.
  • Drink plenty of water and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize- Carry a small bottle of moisturizer with your carry-on liquids and moisturize your cuticles before takeoff.  The air in a plane is so dehydrating which can wreak havoc on the sensitive skin around your fingernails.  Also, moisturize the skin on your face heavily the night before and the day of your flight to keep your skin fresh for when you land.
  • Don’t wear anything with clunky back details like ties or large clasps.  Remember, you have to sit in a chair for multiple hours so the last thing you want is something digging into your back.
  • Prepare your carry on!  Check out my tips on how to put a carry on bag together.