What to wear while traveling to a different climate… Seasonless and comfy clothes to wear on a plane
I am going on holiday in January– leaving the UK in winter and arriving in Mexico in the hot sunshine. It’s a 10- hour flight so I want to be comfortable while sitting on the plane but also look stylish and smart as we are flying 1st class.
I appear young for my age as I’m 46 years old but usually pass for being 40. I don’t want to dress too young, but not middle aged either. I’m pretty tall at 5’9″ and have a slim figure. Please help me out with some of your fashion recommendations for what to wear while traveling to a different climate. (Cold Norton, Essex, UK)
First off the plate, you know from reading any of my fashion advice that dressing “middle-aged” and frumpy is one of my greatest pet peeves for killing any sense of personal style. As we mature, our dress can take a more sophisticated, polished, and less fussy turn, but never settle for dowdy and middle-aged. Good for you that you are able to beat the clock with your appearance! With a regular beauty and fitness regime and staying up-to-date with style, there’s no reason why anyone can’t look younger, better, and vital.
I can’t help but chuckle when I’m waiting for a taxi at the airport in the dead of winter and see a flock of sunburned turistas on the taxi line shivering their petunias off wearing flip-flops, shorts, and souvenir T-shirts, without even carrying a jacket or anything appropriate for their arrival destination—somehow, they left their common sense back at the playa. Dressing for the climate is probably the most fashionable rule you ever need to follow.
It is tricky to manage to dress appropriately for two extreme weather conditions —and the key to looking chic and pulled together is with comfy, wrinkle-resistant knit layers in complimentary seasonless colors. As a base, a pair of dark wash premium jeans with a bit of Lycra stretch for comfort is probably the most versatile climate equalizer. The jeans can be neatly rolled up to Capri length for when you land in the scorching heat and keep you warm enough for getting you back home in the cold. A well-cut dark wash pair of jeans can also be worn with a dressy top and strappy sandals for a cooler evening out in Mexico.
I always layer a simple tank or short sleeve cotton T-shirt under a neutral lightweight wool or cotton sweater or tunic on the plane. A longer sweater avoids the need to wear a belt and one less thing to take off at airport security and the simple tank or short sleeve cotton T-shirt is cool enough to stand on its own at the warmer destination. Over that, I layer either a lightweight surplice wrap sweater or knit cardigan. All the layers can be worn separately in the warmer climate or during the plane’s schizophrenic temperature twinges and when you return to your chilly destination.
Wearing a featherweight coat, like a silky puffer, will keep you toasty in the chill, act as a blanket on the flight, and be scrunchable enough to stuff in your carry-on without wrinkling. A cotton pareo in a dark print can be folded to wear s a winter scarf or shawl and later worn as a beach cover-up. The right pair of ballerina flats or wedge pumps can be worn both with socks for the winter climate and then on their own in the heat.
If you do wear jewelry on board, avoid heavy metals or studs that set off the security metal detectors and opt for seasonless wood or stone.
Instead of a heavy luggage carry-on, I use a large canvas tote bag that’s lighter to lug through the airport and can also do double-duty as a beach bag, around town tote, or laptop case. It may not be a bad idea to pack an extra lightweight top and bathing suit in your carry-on just in case the airport loses your luggage. As a fashion stylist, I once spent 5 days on location in Mexico mixing and matching my layers until the entire shoot’s luggage finally showed up and the only thing to buy at the resort was a tennis outfit! I quickly mastered a hundred and one emergency ways to wear a pareo and tank top. Creativity and foresight can get you through anything. Bon voyage!
–January 1, 2007