With its corporate coffee chains, screaming babies and soulless bars, the airport may seem like an unlikely style hotspot. Throw in a pinch of sleep deprivation, a sprinkling of old, pizza-stained loungewear, and what you have is a veritable fashion vacuum.
That’s only one side of the story, though. Because, thanks to the frequent comings and goings of the world’s most stylish celebrity men, the airport has now become a global stage for good dressing.
Despite all the paparazzi shots of Ryan Gosling gliding stylishly through LAX, actually putting together a travel outfit yourself can be tricky. It’s tempting to sacrifice style for comfort, but the key to dressing for departures is understanding that the two are not mutually exclusive.
Armed with the right wardrobe tools, there’s no reason you can’t give the Hollywood jet-set a run for their traveller’s cheques. So sit back, make sure your table is folded away and your backrest in the upright position, and allow us to pilot you through the finer points of airport style.
3 Failsafe Travel Outfits
The airport is athleisure’s spiritual home. The combination of form and function is perfectly balanced to keep you looking sharp while feeling like you’re still wearing pyjamas.
To nail this travel outfit before takeoff, team sportswear staples with smarter, more structured pieces. We’re talking tailored joggers or drawstring trousers and a hoodie, worn with premium sneakers and any outerwear with a collar such as a lightweight single-breasted trench coat, which can easily flit between seasons, or time zones.
Stick to simple, neutral colours and accessorise with a leather backpack and a baseball cap or beanie, depending on what time you have to leave the house for your flight and where you’re headed.
Not all trips to the terminal are made in the name of pleasure. If your final destination is a boardroom rather than a beach, you’d be well advised to give slouchy streetwear a wide berth.
A good travel outfit for a businessman starts from the ground up. Choose shoes that are easy to take off and put on. Think loafers as opposed to Derbies. This will make for a smoother transition through security and a more comfortable flight. Plus, well, they just look good, don’t they?
Arriving at your destination looking as sharp as when you took off is impossible if your tailoring is a crumpled heap. If only taking one, you could learn how to pack a suit the right way, but a far better option is to wear it. Opt for a high-twist fabric such as wool (which allows for a quicker recovery from wrinkles) and a jacket that’s made with a half-canvas construction for added comfort.
If in doubt, workwear. That’s a pretty solid mantra to live by in most casual settings, and the departure lounge is no exception.
Firstly, it looks good. Secondly, in a world where airlines are only a budget meeting or two away from implementing additional charges to bring your own limbs on board, anything with a few extra pockets is your friend.
Start with the jacket. It should be collared but casual. A traditional chore jacket would do the trick as it offers multiple passport and credit-card sized pouches. Below, go for chinos in a stretchy fabric and tie it together with a pair of slip-on sneakers.
Celebrity Airport Style
Would the concept of airport style even exist if it weren’t for David Beckham? Perhaps not. The former England captain is no stranger to a private jet, and his above-average air miles certainly show in the experience with which he puts a together lounge-friendly travel outfit.
Beck’s trademark brand of trans-Atlantic cool is based around mixing timeless classics with trend-driven pieces (and the obligatory black Wayfarers, of course), all of which work as an outfit when headed for a city break.
The footballing legend possesses an ability to seamlessly switch from high to low, making both look equally good. Think a simple crew neck T-shirt, joggers and a baseball cap for long-haul slogs, or a soft chambray shirt and jeans for shorter flights. Each tied together neatly with a luxe backpack or leather holdall.
As far as style inspiration goes, it doesn’t get much better than Ryan Gosling.
The La La Land Star is well-known on land for his knack for using statement pieces and a seventies-inspired colour palette, and the magic doesn’t stop when it’s time to catch a flight.
Gosling’s use of layers that can be easily added and subtracted from his travel outfit puts him right up there with the best airport dressers. Who else could wear a buffalo check lumberjack coat over a leather biker and make it look good? We’d put money on him wearing a pair of swim shorts under there too.
The golden age of flying might be dead and the lounge no place for an actual lounge suit, but try telling Eddie Redmayne that means you can’t still fix up and look smart.
If you’re jumping straight off the plane and into a smart-casual setting, Redmayne can provide a handy reference point for the sort of look to go for. The actor can regularly be seen striding through arrivals in good quality basics, clutching classic luggage and often with a smart overcoat thrown in for good measure.
Once you’ve switched time zones, pep up your skin with a moisturiser and some eye cream, swap the sneakers for some Derbies, and you’re ready for anything.
Key Travel Outfit Pieces
Historically, ‘sweatpants’ has always been a byword for ‘sloppy’. Not any more. The cross-pollination of dress codes in recent years has yielded some very wearable results. Not least of which: tailored joggers and their slightly more spruced-up cousin: drawstring trousers.
It’s difficult to imagine a garment better suited to a travel outfit. Light, stretchy and comfortable, while remaining smart enough to be worn with an unstructured blazer.
When it comes to making the airport experience as pain-free as possible, having a good carry-on bag is half the battle. With the airport-style elite flying the flag for backpacks, a timeless leather carrier or sturdy ripstop option is a wise choice.
A stylish holdall or cavernous tote bag is a reliable alternative for squeezing that little bit more out of your carry-on allowance. It’s worth splashing out on a quality option from a respected brand, and with the right care, it may even outlast you.
Celebrities have been using baseball caps to shield themselves from paparazzi flashbulbs for as long as there have been airports. That’s not all they’re good for, though.
The right cap can be a handy accessory for bringing an outfit together, and better yet, if the low humidity means you suffer from greasy hair on long-haul flights, it offers a stylish means of keeping it concealed.
Having a few extra pockets to hand is no bad thing at any time, but it’s particularly handy when attempting to keep your carry-on bag an acceptable weight and all the travel essentials to hand.
A worker jacket — originally designed to be worn while carrying out chores, which flying most certainly is — has room for passports, boarding passes, headphones and beyond. It’s just a bonus that it looks the part, too.
Surely the comfiest article of clothing ever created, you don’t need to have poured over celebrity pap’ shots to know that the hoodie really comes into its own at the airport.
To make one part of your next travel outfit, look for loopback cotton or cotton-jersey blend for optimum comfort, then simply layer it under a light jacket and you’re ready for the skies.
When you’ve just disembarked a 13-hour flight and the jet lag is beginning to take hold, looking good is no easy feat. A stylish pair of sunglasses can hide a multitude of sins and help take some of the sting out of that blinding daylight.
If you’re to stand any chance of not looking like a fool walking through passport control, stick to classic shapes like Wayfarers and Clubmasters in black or tortoiseshell frames that will helpfully also look cool around the pool.
Even if you’re David Beckham, at some point you will need to go through airport security. As well as putting your liquids in a clear bag ahead of time, it pays to plan ahead and dress smart too; and that includes your shoes.
Because no man wants to be on bended knee wrestling with laces at 4am, slip-on sneakers are the savvy traveller’s choice and mean you’ll quite literally fly through, leaving more time to stock up on fragrances in duty-free.