8 things you should never wear on a flight


Female Passenger on plane flying
Dressing for travel always presents a conundrum, but whether you dress up or down, there are some things you should avoid altogether.

In times gone by, travel was a privilege that was dressed up for, a special event where looking the part was part of the excitement. When meals were served on fine china and seats reclined more than 10 degrees, suits and heels were far more common.

These days, whether you’re travelling for work or enjoyment, choosing what to wear is far more likely guided by comfort.

It’s understandable. Flights can be exhausting and if you’re trying to squeeze work in or catch a bit of shut-eye, you don’t want to be constricted or irritated by what you are wearing. Add in caring for children and you’ve got a whole other challenge on your hands.

What you wear on the plane ultimately comes down to personal style. We’ve all been envious of those people who breeze through the airport looking chic, relaxed and put-together, despite getting straight off a long-haul flight, but if that isn’t your vibe, it’s your right to wear what you feel good in. While sweatpants are too casual for some, for others, those luxury cashmere lounge pants don’t count as such!

There’s also the lingering idea that a stylish and tidy outfit might make you more appealing to ground staff when it comes to considering you for an upgrade, or at least get quicker service on board. This is never confirmed by the airlines, of course.

What you should wear is an incredibly divisive topic, but according to the seasoned travellers among us, there are definitely some things you should avoid:


There’s nothing more constricting than a stiff and tight denim waistband. After sitting for hours what felt like a snug fit before, will be downright torturous now.  Instead, choose a pair of smart pants with either a drawstring or elasticated waist. Seek out fabrics that are light and breathable, like knit, cotton, linen or silk, but you will have to consider their crease-factor.

Pants or skirts that touch the floor

Sweeping palazzo pants or a patterned maxi skirt certainly give off an air of ‘I’m on holiday’, but one trip to an airplane bathroom and you’ll never make the same mistake again. While planes can generally be a germaphobes nightmare, the bathrooms in particular are a minefield. The floor always has a scrap or two of rubbish or paper of mysterious origin, not to mention wet patches to dodge, and that’s putting it politely.

Heavy boots, high tops or shoes with complicated buckles or laces

While you aren’t always asked to remove your shoes to pass through airport security, if your footwear triggers the sensitive metal detector or if you’re selected for “secondary screening” wearing a pair that’s easy to remove will definitely speed the process. Once you’re on board it’s often appealing – advisable even, considering blood-clotting risks – to remove your shoes while seated. However you’ll want to be able to put them back on easily in case of an emergency or for a visit to the bathroom. Heels are also tiresome while walking long distances in airports and may make it tricky to exit quickly in an emergency. For these reasons, it’s worth considering a pair of slip-on shoes like loafers, ballet flats or mules.

Rompers, bodysuits or all-in-one outfits

Again anything that takes too long to remove while visiting the bathroom or requires you to get almost completely undressed, like overalls or a bodysuit is a no-no because of the aforementioned risk of brushing the floor with your garment. A stylish matching set will give you the same look without the inconvenience.

White or light colours

Spill your coffee in the airport lounge before boarding? It’s going to be tricky to disguise. For this reason, darker colours are more forgiving.

A light t-shirt, dress or shirt without an extra layer

Travelling requires a versatile outfit with layers that can easily  be added or taken off. While it’s stuffy while you board and you could be coming from, or heading to, a steamy tropical climate, forgetting to bring a jumper, cardigan or blazer is a grave mistake. The air conditioning on board can be downright Antarctic.

Excess or bulky jewellery or hair accessories

There are a number of reasons not to layer on the accessories while you fly.  Fine jewellery and small pieces will usually go through airport security without a problem but anything that’s bulky or made of metal, like some costume jewellery pieces, can trigger a wand-down. Then there is the annoyance of leaning on a bulky earring while resting, or worse, losing one down between the seats and not noticing.

Hair accessories like claw clips keep you hair off your face while in transit, but are a nuisance once you want to lean back into your head rest.


As a matter of courtesy for your fellow travellers, avoid wearing any fragrance or perfumed lotions while you fly, to avoid triggering any sensitivies or allergies for your seat mates.


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