What To Wear On The Airplane

What To Wear On The Airplane

what to wear on an airplane

what to wear on the airplane

Lately it seems the topic of what to wear on the airplane has come up a lot in conversation.  Especially with my beloved (and obviously flawless) mother.  John Tinseth says “not as good as it was.  Better than it will be”  The first part of his statement, I would reckon is correct regarding how men dress.  But everyday I hope that he is wrong about the latter.  For the way men dress for travel in particular here in the States is downright embarrassing.  Case in point: may parents were flying out to California a few weeks ago and my father encountered a rather unfortunate soul.  Said unfortunate soul was wearing jean shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt (akin to the photo below).  The man was brought to my parents attention not only by his sartorial blunders but also his poor conduct.  For when he was putting his goods in the overhead compartment his jacket kept hitting my father in the head.  Luckily my father was able to keep his cool.

Anyway, given this, I felt it prudent to broach the subject of what to wear on the airplane here on FYGblog.  I have thought up a few basic pointers, but the list is by no means comprehensive.  Enjoy liberally.

1.  Be respectful of fellow passengers, in both your conduct and dress.  The first thing I do when I sit next to someone is introduce myself.  Regardless of who or what they are.

2.  Do not wear sweatpants, they are the mark of the lazy and unsophisticated.  For girls Juicy pants and the like are in this category as well.

3.  Girls can wear Lululemons, as long as they are not coming from the gym.  The reason being is that Lululemons are Gods gift to mankind, you all know what I mean.

4.  Do not wear sleeveless shirts.  No one wants to see or smell your armpits.

5.  You cannot overdress for air travel.  A collared shirt is good but there is nothing wrong with wearing a suit or blazer.

6.  Men should not wear open toed shoes or sandals.

7.  It is oft wise to dress in layers, as the temperature on planes seems to fluctuate 10-15 degrees during travel.

8.  Men should avoid jean shorts like the plague.  Not just for air travel but for life in general.

9.  Dress for where you are going, not where you are coming from.  At least that’s what I always like to do.  You never know when a bag will get lost so it’s good to have at least one set of wearable clothes for the new destination.

10.  As a general rule of thumb, dress as if you were going to meet your future in-laws for the first time.

Feel free sound off with your thoughts, advice and anecdotes on what to wear on the airplane below!



what to wear on the airplane

Images from Airplane, Jean Shorts.



  1. this article could have simply said, “use common sense, don’t look trashy” and have spared the elitist tone.

    no substance.

  2. Really this article is so wrong, as the other comment says, be respectful, don’t be a snob. Air travel today is like commuting to work. So, if your mother is like mine, who doesn’t understand that and I continually educate her as I get on a plane in jeans and a t-shirt.

    It would appear that JBJ doesn’t fly as much as me (to date for the year 148 flights).

    I agree that any sweats, including LLemon should be out, since it is always the people who should wear them that do.

    • Justin, you are indeed a gentleman — the authors of your first two comments, not so much. Air travel, because of the attendant security among other inconveniences, is not like commuting to work. It has become terribly unpleasant though and slobs in jeans and t-shirts don’t help. It is precisely the presence of those slobs that make this post relevant.

  3. I must admit I come out in support of JLJ. Most times when I do air travel I wear business attire and feel comfortable doing so.Admitidely this is short haul but for long haul going business class I have worn a suit and felt overdressed but I do think that leisure suits and resort wear is probably too over the top .Dare I suggest that jeans ( slim fit only) with a collared shirt and fine wool sweater is probably the best way to go . Dark navy jacket which you hand to the flight attendant on boarding definitely a good look.

    • Why the fuck do people wearing jeans and t-shirts make you feel fucking uncomfortable!? You’re all SNOBS if you want people to dress fancy on some stupid uncomfortable cramped flight.

  4. So…my standard travel outfit of jorts and a tank top is out. What’s next – I’m not allowed to bring a cooler and make my own deli sandwich?

  5. Reflecting on the comments regarding the similarities between air travel and commuting to work. This is precisely why one is required to uphold standards of dress etiquette. I do not, nor wish to, travel to work amongst people who neglect self embellishment for lack of a better word. Suppose you were to encounter the CEO of your company, perhaps the in-laws as JLJ proposes, however unlikely the event.

  6. JLJ,

    I like the article, and I am not sure where the one poster gets the elitist tone from, but everyone is allowed an opinion. I find it revolting to be forced to share space with unkempt (and often un-hygenic) people. Men and women alike should dress and care for themselves appropriately while flying, grocery shopping, walking down the street, pretty much everywhere. This is what separates us from the rest of the mammals on earth, so have a little pride. You may not give a damn what you look like, but we have to look at you.

    Keep it up JLJ,

  7. I am at a loss as to what to wear for air travel these days.
    In olden times I would wear a suit or blazer and gray flannels (Mom always said that would suffice for anything but black tie, white tie or a funeral), but these days one has to strip down and then re-dress walking along through the security .. slip on shoes are almost a necessity and therefore no suit. Then .. one gets on the plane to a seat with less room than a SEPTA bus in Philadelphia. One is tempted to go the jeans-and-polo-shirt route, but that’s like traveling in one’s skivvies.
    What to wear for ease of going through the security and comfort in small spaces, but with some style and dignity?

    • Tripp,
      I sympathize. I prefer to dress well for travel but it can be hard. I usually default on my Bills khakis, top siders and a blue oxford cloth button down. Sometimes I’ll throw and blazer and tie on.

  8. I travel extensively for work and fly regularly domestically (and once or twice per year overseas). My “uniform” is a blue blazer, gray trousers, dress shirt, and loafers. I like that I can put my phone, Kindle, keys, etc. in the jacket pockets when going through security. And I can have a business meeting, go to dinner, etc. without having to change my clothes. I also think that one’s manners and attire show respect for others; I believe that I get more attentive service from airline employees, maître d’s, bartenders, hotel staff, et al. because of my “look.” And well tailored clothes that fit well are not uncomfortable for travel so that’s no excuse. I cannot fathom that I see children AND adults wearing their pajamas at the airport! Inexcusable laziness!

  9. I think that the people who disagree with this article aren’t necessarily travelling for business and/or often enough. I’m still in university and my father travels a lot for work. When he was flying with with an airline outside of the One World Alliance (for which he holds emerald status). With no frequent flyer history with this airline, flying economy, he had no valid reason to be upgraded. Standing in the line he was identified by one of the senior people at the check in desks and was upgraded solely on his appearance. Even me, someone with no frequent flyer status what so ever, has received little perks (such as priority baggage, allowance through business class lines when travelling in economy and additional guests when flying in business to the lounge etc) based on my appearance. Whenever I travel for sport I travel in the team tracksuit, otherwise I wear a collar shirt as a minimum. As sad as it sounds you get treated based on your appearance, even at airports.

    • False. I travel frequently for business and would prefer to travel in comfort and change before I head to work related engagements. Then again, I’m not male and have no need to appear pretentious in public.

  10. On my 9 hour flight to Germany, I’ll be changing to sweat pants and a loose fitting long sleeved t-shirt. I will change before take-off and landing.

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  12. I wear very light weight cloths under, incase I get stuck between some large people leaning on me. I also take along a jacket so I don’t have to pack it, or if it’s cold on the airplane. Boots or what ever shoes are the largest, so I don’t have to pack them. Usualy don’t do checked bags and am flexable and prepaired with my earphones neck pillow and aviation radio so I know how the flight is going. Always dress nice as if I’ll end up in the hospittal, so they won’t think I’m a homeless bum. That’s my flight dress phelosophy.

  13. A while back as I was seated next to the window for a FLL-BOS flt. As the door was closing my aisle seatmate arrived clad in a Speedo,a wife beater and flip flops and his carry-on bag having just left the beach. He was a Danny Devito clone his arms covered in tattoos and fortunately just as funny sense of humor. He dressed in his seat and lavatory as we flow North.
    Does anyone feel think there should be some minimum dress requirements?

  14. Oh dear. Who on earth cares? A plane, particularly a domestic flight, is essentially a glorified, flying bus. It’s a form of transportation, not a black tie affair. If you’re one of those people who wears their most distinguished suit to sit on a plane for three hours and not headed straight for a meeting, I am judging you. I am assuming that you are either 1. A pretentious, broke snob, who is trying to maintain the facade of wealth, or 2. Not a very experienced traveler. Thanks to this article, I no longer feel guilt for my judgemental attitude because now I know that many of you are turning your nose up to those who may not be able to afford your quality of attire. Pathetic. Shamefully pathetic.

  15. This article disgusts me. You are classist, elitist, and so many of the things that makes the world a worse place. Find something of real purpose to do with your attention that is productive for society and people, not damaging. Very unadmirable.