How to Dress Smart for Travel

Updated April 13, 2017

Whether your destination is near or far, the wrong clothes can make the experience of getting there dreadful. Dressing smart is even more crucial these days with strict airline security and more baggage in the cabins because of checked-bag fees. Your clothing needs to provide function, comfort and a measure of good taste.

Wear comfortable and functional undergarments. The material should be made from something breathable, such as cotton, and quick drying in case you need to wash and wear it again the next day. (You never know when an airline will lose your luggage.) Wear a neutral colour with minimal stitching because this will work under most types of clothing.

Wear simple clothing plus a sweater. If you are a woman, wear a short-sleeve dress that is easy to move in or light trousers and a top. If you are a man, wear trousers that don't require a belt and a short-sleeve shirt that doesn't require a tie or other accessories. Wear a sweater or cardigan. These clothes will allow you to stay comfortable despite any temperature differences in the airports or aeroplanes.

Keep accessories minimal. You will have to remove all metal objects at the security gate. If possible, just wear the standard jewellery like your wedding ring. Keep metal objects out of your pockets, as well. Do not wear a hat, because this is one extra thing to remove at security and store during your trip.

Wear slip-on shoes with socks. You have to remove your shoes at security, but you really don't want to walk through this area without anything protecting your feet, so keep your socks on. If you can slip your shoes on and off, you will beat everyone out of the security area and to your gate. Slip-on shoes also make your aeroplane trip more comfortable, because you can easily get your shoes on and off at your seat.

Take a carry-on bag or purse that fits close to your body and zips shut. Use the smallest bag possible, especially if you plan to put it under the seat in front of you. You want to give yourself as much leg room as possible.


Dress as stylishly as possible. If you happen to be the lucky person who gets a first-class upgrade, you don't want to look like a slob. Stick to one neutral colour palette, which will allow you to mix and match easily with your packed clothes once you are at your destination.


Do not wear pantyhose or other synthetic material, because high heat or fire can melt the material to your body. If you are travelling to a foreign country, keep cultural clothing practices in mind.

Things You'll Need

  • Comfortable and functional clothes, including underwear
  • Sweater or cardigan
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Socks
  • Purse or bag with a zipper
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About the Author

Holland Ember has been a writer for eight years focusing on technical writing and specializing in environment, health and social sciences. She has a Bachelors of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma. Ember has written for eHow and also edits academic and scientific journal articles.