The only 7 pieces you need to nail airport style

Airport style

I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to travelling, but since moving to London two years ago, I have found myself, like many fellow Brits, jumping on a plane every chance I get. In part to escape some dreary weather, but also to take advantage of London’s proximity to cities steeped in history and dreamy seaside towns just two hours away. This month alone, I’ll have been to Venice, Cappadocia and Dubrovnik, which means I’ve had to learn how to pack and dress efficiently. Airport dressing in particular has been a challenge for many years—how does one dress comfortably, without feeling too warm or cold, whilst looking chic from departure to arrival?

It’s almost an artform, really, to create a look that checks all these boxes. Many a time I’ve bumped into someone at the airport (once even on the airplane!) and wished I had on a better outfit on, or wore something I thought would be practical but in the end made passing security a nightmare. But after years of experience, I’m happy to impart what bits of wisdom I’ve collected in the hopes of making your next trips a little more less stressful and a little more stylish. Here are the only 7 pieces you need for first class airport style.

1. The Tank Dress

Tank dress influencer imagery

(Image credit: @rosielai)

I’ve never been one to wear jeans on the plane, or anything without stretch for that matter. What I love about the strappy knit or tank dress is how comfortable it is while still being stylish enough to go straight to a dinner after the flight. The key is to opt for one in a darker hue (stains are more likely when lugging around suitcases) and of a midi length so that it doesn’t drag on the floor. For fabrics, I would go for 100 percent cotton for maximum breathability.

2. The Oversized Jacket:

Skip this step if you’re headed somewhere balmy, but even most hot-weather destinations get cool in the evenings, so I’m never without a jacket. I like to balance out the femininity of the knit dress with a boxy jacket, be it a trench with padded shoulders or a boyfriend bomber.

3. The Colourful Cardigan

If the knit dress is in subtle hues, say nude or black, I’d pop on a brightly coloured or patterned cardigan for contrast. Throw it over the shoulders of the jacket or tie it around the hips then put it on as the plane reaches maximum altitude. In the summer I prefer open knits because they’re usually lighter weight, but a thin cashmere number would also do the trick.

4. The Chunky Sandals:

Some airports (ahem, Heathrow) require a lot of walking so comfy shoes are a must. Chunky, dad sandals are not only trending but are also some of the bulkiest items to pack so I prefer to wear them when I’m on the go. Not to mention the need to avoid unwanted toe to suitcase contact while wearing flip flops or other soft flats (ouch)! Whatever your sandals of choice, I try to match the colour to the cardigan or bag to tie the look together.

5. The Fool-Proof Tote

Speaking of bags, it has been one of my life’s mission to find the perfect travel tote. I will let you know when I find it, but a few have come close. I’m incredibly pernickety when it comes to the ideal tote: it needs to be lightweight, in a material that is dirt and water resistant, and of course, stylish. Some people travel with their raffia beach bags, but I’ve found that between jamming it in the overhead compartment or under the seat, it’s a sure fire way to fray the bag before it even gets near the ocean. My go-to are canvas or nylon options where possible.

6. The Tinted Sunglasses:

Not one to wear makeup on the plane, I rely on my trusty sunglasses to help me look presentable. I tend to reach for tinted sunglasses that work both indoors and outdoors and made of titanium frames to be sure they sit comfortably on the nose the duration of the trip. Bonus points if they’re in a fun shape or pattern!

7. The Sport Cap:

Pair the oversized jacket with a sport cap to complete the look. My favourite are brightly coloured ones or something that catches the colour of another accessory, be it your bag or shoes. It’s a way to add personality and fun to a practical outfit.

Rosana Lai

"Rosana (Rosie) Lai is a writer, editor, French-fry addict and corgi admirer. Born in Hong Kong and educated in America, Rosie’s love of words and fashion led her to become the fashion director of Tatler Asia before moving to London two years ago. She now continues to contribute to Tatler Asia, in addition to the Financial Times, Harper’s Bazaar Singapore and Citizen Femme on all things style and travel."