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Man on the Move: Surviving the Airplane in Style and Comfort

by Matthew Piker | October 24th, 2012   

The old adage goes, “It’s not the destination but the journey.” But with airline travel, the opposite is true. Flying today is a far-cry from the jet-set world shown through the lens of Hollywood. And flying for business? It’s downright exhausting. Anyone who’s been delayed in an airport Chili’s downing margaritas knows what I’m talking about.

People Shopping Man on the Move: Surviving the Airplane in Style and Comfort

As a designer/entrepreneur, I regularly fly between France and the US. Over time, I’ve learned how to put together a stylish, professionally minded, comfortable airplane look.

Why is comfort not the end-all you ask? Because flying for business means airports and planes are mobile offices. Opportunity can arise anywhere. Even in that Chili’s. Sure sweat pants, athletic shorts, and hooded sweatshirts are comfortable. But would you wear these things to your office? If so, is your company hiring? (Note: Sarcasm.)

So men, here are some suggestions on how to put together a great outfit fit for the tarmac.

c600x922 Man on the Move: Surviving the Airplane in Style and Comfort
  1. For starters, the cardigan is king. It can be in wool or cotton. It should be black, navy blue, or brown. My travel history is riddled with stories of turbulence flinging tomato juice down my shirt. Now, I stick to ginger ale. I figure a ginger ale stain can take care of itself. Also, cardigans have added utility in the form of buttons. Being able to easily remove this article of clothing comes in mighty handy. My favorite cardigan was purchased online from ASOS.
  2. Secondly, a fitted cotton, solid-color t-shirt is a staple. It can be long-sleeve if you like. No tie. No button-down. Fitted t-shirts retain the advantage of providing breathing room for the neck without the looser, sloppy look of other tees. I tend to stick to my favorite color: heather gray. I know that is obnoxiously specific. Other options include striped two-tone shirts or tempered colors in burgundy, beige, or teal. Club Monaco, River Island, and TopMan provide a bountiful selection. Try to avoid loud colors or graphic tees. And no sports teams, gentleman. Sorry.
  3. If you need a jacket, go with leather or a lightweight wool, European cut sport coat in charcoal or black. Navy works, as well. These are items that can easily be stowed in overhead compartments and transition nicely from season-to-season. Acne and Band of Outsiders both serve up good choices.
  4. For pants, go with fitted slacks that hit just at the ankle and which come in a wide-range of colors. Zara and J. Crew seem to have this kind of pant on-lock. Colors such as merlot (Best in Show reference, anyone?), mustard, navy blue, gray, and olive-green pair in endless ways. What I most often wear, though, is a heavy-duty pair of dark denim jeans. You can never go wrong with Levi’s in dark navy or black.
  5. Good footwear is critical when hiking through the airport. I swear by Cole Haan’s Nike-soled products. The silhouettes are classic and professional but come with unexpected details and in whimsical colors. My tan boots with a double-buckle from the company have held up many a security checkpoint.
  6. And the accessories? If you need a belt, a thin-banned one does the job. Scarves are a solid addition. Zara does these quite well. Instead of wearing a crazy graphic tee that says “I bought this in high school,” show your boundless creativity through the scarf. Go for a silk one with anchors or skulls or hell, chainsaws! Vibrant socks are also a fun way to get funky. Look into the brand Happy Socks. They will put a smile on your face.

I could go on and on about other accessories – bags (Spalding Brothers out of New York), sunglasses (aviators), headphones (Urban Ears) – but this should get you combat-ready for the dreary world of airport lounges and inoperable seat recline buttons.

Go on and make these tips your own. You’ll be happy you did. And who knows. Maybe I’ll pass you on a moving walkway with a nod of appreciation for your outstanding outfit. Just so long as it’s not in a Chili’s.