What to Wear in the Air: Travelers' Fashion Tips

With airports and airlines constantly outdoing each other in wait times, more travelers are going directly from baggage claim to the conference rooms.

When you don't have time to change clothes, let alone check into your hotel and shower, what's best to wear?

Suit Yourself

When you have to wear your suit on the plane, here's what you should know before you pick one off the rack.

"Steer clear of fabrics that don't breathe well, like polyester, nylon and acetate blends," says Lucky magazine writer-editor Laurel Pinson. "Lots of suit separates now have a shot of Lycra which gives them a bit of stretch -- perfect for travel, where you can be sitting for long periods of time."

Stretch can also be quite forgiving, which is important, since "you always feel a bit bloated after a flight," as flight attendant Tara Panchaud points out. She's been working the business cabin on Virgin Atlantic for 14 years.

Like Pinson, who recommends labels like the well-cut lines of Theory and Rebecca Taylor for more feminine looks, Panchaud is noticing passengers wearing slim, classic cuts as well -- from designers like Austin Reed and Tracy Reese.

No matter who makes the suit, Panchaud says there's definitely an advantage in choosing light fabrics: "They travel much better. Even if it's a wool suit, the fabric is lighter," she says. "It's easier to look fresh when you're wearing a light fabric."

Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing agrees. "We're seeing designers address lighter-weight and transitional-weight fabrics, so that they're seasonless," he says, citing tropical wool and double-face cashmere. "Many men's collections -- like Georgio Armani and Zegna -- are using tropical wool."

"For women, there's a lot of jersey in the marketplace right now," Downing continues. "Knit is a traveler's best friend. It's so easy. A jersey dress packs well because it doesn't wrinkle. And with a change of accessories, you can go to dinner and be very polished."

Downing suggests trying jersey knits from designers like Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg and Stella McCartney.

"Also, stick with dark colors," adds Pinson, "since they tend not to show wrinkles and any other travel wear and tear."

Look Fresh

Dark colors aren't your only line of defense against wrinkles.

Obviously, you should ask the flight attendant to hang your jacket for you -- whether you are actually seated in business class or not. (They will often hang sports coats for travelers in coach class upon request, though winter coats typically must settle for the overhead bin.)

But that's not all flight attendants will hang. "Most men bring a spare shirt, which we hang in the closet for them," says Pinchaud.

What if you don't have an extra shirt but need to freshen up the slightly coffee-dribbled one you're wearing? "Shout Wipes are fantastic for any on-the-go mishaps," offers Pinson.

When you're caught with no spare shirt or quick cleanup, well-heeled business travelers have some go-to spots.

"Target has saved me on more than one occasion. Merona -- their house brand -- makes a nice white shirt. No one knew the difference," says frequent traveler Robert Krex. The self-employed graphic designer flies at least twice a week.

Krex himself prefers the classic English cut -- specifically, Burberry. "It will always hold up better than a U.S. brand suit," he says.

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