How to Dress for an Overseas Flight

Later today, I’m boarding an overseas flight. This will be my eighth international flight this year, I believe. I absolutely love flying. The longer the flight, the better in my book! I actually find myself craving air travel sometimes. I love the anticipation and excitement of a new adventure! I also love the chance to catch up on movies and get some sleep on the airplane.

But what should one wear for these long-haul flights? While jet-setting may seem easy, dressing for air travel is an acquired skill that took me a while to master. The journey is not always as glamorous as the destination. So, how does one stay comfortable without disregarding style all together? It’s a delicate balance between fashion and function. Here are my top five tips for masterfully achieving that balance.

1. Do wear layers; Don’t wear skin revealing clothes

No matter your destination, getting there can involve varying micro-climates. From the hot cab ride to the airport to the waiting area at the gate to sitting on the tarmac with no air conditioning to having freezing temperatures aboard the plane, the temperatures might be all over the place. So, dress in layers.

Layers, layers, layers. That’s the key.

My can’t-live-without layer is a good poncho or wrap. I have several that I use for traveling, depending on my mood and the climate of my destination. Here, I’m wearing this Mara Hoffman bright-hued fringe cardigan from Buru. Other times, I rely on my trusty and heavier Burberry poncho (similar here), as seen in one of my first blog posts ever. A good poncho essentially doubles as a blanket on a plane, keeping me warm and cozy.

Layers not only help you during the trip, but they also help when traveling through varying climates or when unexpected weather arises. Plus, the more you wear on the plane, the less you have to pack in your suitcase! That leads me into my next point…

2. Do invest in a good carry-on; Don’t over pack

Believe it or not, I rarely check a bag. As much as I love fashion, I love simplifying the travel experience just as much.

Checking bags just creates ways in which things can go wrong… You might have to pay for checked bags or overweight bags. Your bags might be lost. You have to wait on your bags at baggage claim upon arrival at your destination. You will be stuck hauling on that around when you reach your destination. All of that is too much trouble in my mind!

When we leave for Europe today, I’ll be traveling with only this Tumi carry-on roller bag. Traveling with a carry-on only is a little bit more difficult during winter months because of the bulky nature of heavy clothing. But it still can be done! I highly recommend this bag. I’ve had it for years. If you travel a lot, go ahead and invest in a great quality carry-on that will hold up over time.

3. Do wear comfortable shoes; Don’t wear heels

As much as I love high heels, I concede that overseas air travel is not the time to wear them. In this area, function wins out over fashion. You’ll want shoes that are easy to slip on and off when passing through airport security. Plus, you’ll want to kick your shoes off and relax on the flight. I’ve been wearing these Golden Goose Deluxe Brand sneakers, but a pair of Nike Free tennis shoes will do the job just as well.

Also, don’t forget a pair of socks. There’s nothing worse than walking through those cold (and dirty) security checkpoint floors with no socks! And you’ll want them to keep your feet warm on the flight.

4. Do choose breathable fabrics; Don’t wear tight clothing

Give your skin some breathing room. Besides the obvious comfort issue, choosing loose clothing in natural fabrics could actually be a healthy choice as well. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a type of blood clot that increases in likelihood when flying. Low cabin pressure, dehydration, and staying in one position in a cramped seat all contribute to this.

Opt for leggings or jeans with a great deal of give and stretch, like these Frame Denim jeans I’m wearing.

5. Do practice personal hygiene; Don’t wear perfume

This last point should go without saying. But let’s just make sure we cover all bases, shall we?

Remember: odors are intensified on a plane, as many people are crammed into a small space and stale air is recycled throughout the cabin. This gesture of cleanliness and courtesy will be much appreciated by your fellow travels.

Shop My Look and Great Travel Ponchos

What are your travel style tips? What is your airplane uniform? I’d love to hear your tips!

Holiday Schedule

First and foremost, I wish my American readers a happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the time with your families.

Second, be on the lookout for lots of holiday goodness here… I have something especially festive I’m excited to share with you next week! See you back here Monday.


Photos by Justin James Photography


  1. Bella B says:

    I just adore that poncho and great tips Carrie I was so cold on the plan to florida I wore a dress I was comfy but very cold! when I come visit you ill dress better 😉

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks, Bella! Yes – always avoid exposed skin on flights. Layers, layers. 🙂

  2. Sheri says:

    Great post, Carrie. Sophie and I enjoyed checking out your sneakers!

    Are you still working with the engineering firm? You are certainly a traveler!

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks, Sheri!

      Yes, indeed. Still working as an engineer and constantly trying to maximize the limited time off I have. Traveling is so important to me.

    2. Sheri says:

      Thanks for the reply! I admire how you have prioritized travel. You aren’t waiting until retirement or some magical time when it could be easier. I have only done one trans-Atlantic flight this year, but loved everything about it.

      Curious how you manage the “catch up” at work after being away or co-workers who might be a tad jealous. I do struggle a bit with that. No need to reply if that is too personal.

  3. Sydney says:

    Thank you Carrie! I have been flying since I was a baby and I always over pack its such a bad habit, I just feel like i might need something! I would love come tips on how to keep packing at a minimum in a carry on!! You look fabulous it is my goal to look as good as you next time I fly in style 🙂

    1. Carrie says:

      Sydney – that’s next on my list… A post with some packing tips. Thanks so much for reading!

  4. Tamara says:

    Great tips! Loved reading them, you are so right about wearing breathable fabrics! I love your outfit 🙂

    Check out my blog if you want:

    Tamara xxx

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much, Tamara! I’m a big fan of your blog and Instagram. I appreciate you stopping by. Xo

  5. Melissa says:

    Thank you! We are traveling with the family to Germany next month and I’m not looking forward to packing, but I will remember to keep it simple and to wear layers for the plane!

    1. Carrie says:

      Yes indeed! You don’t need as much as you think. 😉

      Hopefully I’ll get together a post with packing tips before your trip!

      Thanks for visiting.

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