Why I Always Dress Up When I Fly

A typical travel outfit for me is business at the top, comfort on the bottom

Every since I was a little girl going on packages holidays to Greece with my family I made a point of picking out my ‘travel outfit’. My whole approach to packing, a practise I adopted from my organised mother who had to oversee what 4 children and a husband threw in their cases, has always been rather anal. I’m one of those people who takes joy in deciding what exact outfits will be worn on what nights of the trip (white dress for the end of the trip when the tan is on point, obvs) and then packs only what she needs.

Once all the co-ordinating outfits have been placed neatly in the suitcase, the ‘travel outfit’ will be picked. This invariably consists of my favourite pair of comfy bottoms, a silky, soft top, a smart jacket (yes, I wore blazers to Greece aged 14), ballet flats, an animal print pashmina (Zara, I love you) and a statement piece of jewellery that sets off the scanning machines.

For the last 15 odd years this has always been the case. No matter where I’m flying or what end of the plane I’m in. My statement jewellery has gone a little more upmarket and my matching travel bag is no longer from Primarck, but essentially my travel style has stayed the same.

My Hand Luggage Essentials For Long-Haul Travel

Spotted: the statement necklace of choice circa 2013

Spotted: the statement necklace of choice circa 2013

Contrary to what you might think, I don’t dress up for flights in the hopes of getting an upgrade. (There really was no such thing as an upgrade on Thomas Cook flights to Corfu.) In all my years of travel I’ve never been upgraded just for making an effort with my wardrobe. (Although wouldn’t that be lovely.) Frequent flyers will tell you there are many factors that effect whether you get upgraded – from your airline status to seat availability and how nice you are to the person in charge of boarding passes – what you wear is probably one of the least important bits.

The truth is I dress up to fly because, for me, it is an occasion.

I still get a kick each time I enter an airport. I genuinely look forward to the flying experience. (Although admittedly a little bit less when I’m flying economy because I have seen a couple of times how the other half do it and once you go business, man, is it hard to go back.) Whether I’m flying first class or cattle, heading off for a conference, holiday or wedding, I still delight in picking a semi-smart and (I’d like to think) chic outfit because it makes me feel good to wear it. Stepping into the airport signifies the start of my next stylish adventure, so I want my outward appearance to match my inward excitement.

Busted: the one time I travelled in a hoodie in 2010. I was trying to be a backpacker. Think the pink nails and pearls might have given me away!

Busted: the one time I travelled in a hoodie in 2010. I was trying to be a backpacker. Think the pink nails and pearls might have given me away though!

As long as air travel doesn’t lose its shine for me, you won’t find me flying in trainers and a hoodie.*

What’s your travel style? Do you dress up or down when you fly?

Click here to read my article for Skyscanner on the pros and cons of dressing up on the plane.

*That one time I tried to be a ‘backpacker’ is the exception.

14 Comments

  • Annika says:

    I really like that sentiment! I once saw a woman in a pair of pink Juicy Couture sweatpants in business class (while I had to move on to the back) – that really offended me. Funny enough, without knowing it I guess I dress smartly too. Skinny jeans with enough stretch to be really comfy and a long flowy silk shirt, little cardigan. My cousin told me the other day how smart I looked just to get on a long plane ride but for some reason I think it is rather comfy and my alternative would be sweatpants that are so ugly I wouldn’t dare to leave the house with 😉

    Do you have a picture of your little self in Greece in a blazer? Please share!

  • Jayne Gorman says:

    Hahahaha I love that you were offended by the juicy sweatpants in business. I’d totally feel the same!

    And I did have a hunt for retro pictures but think they are all at my mums. Will have to dig out the old holidays snaps when I’m next back 😉

  • Ben says:

    Good dress may not get you an upgrade but bad dress can deny you one. I had a friend I was travelling with, denied a last minute, at the gate upgrade request (using points) on Qantas. As he was in flip flops and shorts.

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      This is a good point. Most long haul airlines don’t have an official dress code for business travel but I’ve heard Qantas in particular can reject passengers for being too casual.

  • HEATHER DUFF says:

    Flying for me is still a great event in my life and even though I am not going till the end of next month I have been fretting over my outfit for a few month, my friends think I am off my head!

    Generally though mine revolves around my comfiest skinnies, jersey blazer, plain t-shirt and like you animal print scarf!

  • Melanie says:

    I’m jetting off to Canada in the morning – for a gruelling 10 hour flight! Travel outfit sorted ages ago… Navy leggings (not cheap tat) roomy enough for the inevitable expanding stomach as we fly, navy and white striped tunic big enough to cover said bulging stomach!, denim-look large scarf (thanks Zara :)) to wrap myself in when the icy blast of air con hits me, smart navy/ white trainers- cute, retro, comfortable, to be replaced by snugly socks in flight. I once did a long haul to Thailand in too-tight jeans and a white top; lesson learned! Carry-on bag contains make up wipes to remove slap as soon as we are airborn, make up to put on before landing, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush, bobbles, hand cream, lavender oil infused neck pillow, little bottle of concentrated cordial (airline water always tastes rank). Fully loaded iPad and noise cancelling headphones.

  • Fran says:

    At last I know I am not the only one. I even will have a shower at stop overs and put on fresh cloths on long haul flights. There is nothing wrong with carrying an extra statement heckles in the carry on.

  • Fran says:

    At last I know I am not the only one. I even will have a shower at stop overs and put on fresh cloths on long haul flights. There is nothing wrong with carrying an extra statement neckless in the carry on.

  • janice says:

    I think travel is special. It has a huge effect on my sense of wellbeing and so I love the idea of really committing to travel in a special way, suitable for the occasion. Maybe we need to start a trend for dressing up when travelling – rather than dressing down, which is what I generally do!! 🙂

  • I love this post and I totally agree that flying is always so exciting- there’s just something about it that makes it so much more fun than going via road or rail 🙂

  • Bo says:

    I’m kinda on the same page, but for my next trip I might mix things up a bit.

    Question: Would you rather spend money on business class seat and save money on a cheap hotel OR fly economy and spend money on a luxury hotel?

    • Jayne Gorman says:

      This is a great question although to be honest I tend to use frequent flyer and hotel rewards schemes to get the luxury experience without the price tag. I’ve never paid full price for a business ticket but have used miles to upgrade to business and first about 10 times. With regards to hotels I tend to look for independent boutiques/design hotels that score well on service but might not be the traditional 5 star. But if I had to choose I think flying in style is better than staying somewhere luxury the other end as you tend to spend more time out of the room than in it.

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