After weeks of counting down, you finally put up your “out of office” automated reply and are officially on vacation mode. Finally. But before your life’s woes consist of finding the most optimal spot on the beach, you have a couple things to do prior to boarding the plane: Find travel-sized containers of all your favorite cosmetics, alert your credit card company of your travels, pack all your finest threads, and pick out a fashion-forward airplane outfit. The latter, however, isn’t as easy as you’d think. When you’re leaving a cold climate for a warmer getaway (or vice versa), assembling an ensemble that won’t leave you sweating in one location and frostbitten in the other is no easy feat. Allow us to help you tick one thing off your pre-flight to-do list with these five super chic transitional pieces to wear at the terminals.
1. Slip-on sneakers
Investing in an easy pair of TSA-friendly shoes is a must. Not only will you have to take off your shoes for the highly anticipated security check, but you’ll also need to throw them back on once your plane lands to ensure a good spot in the customs line. Once strictly popular among a skate-centric crowd, these slip-ons from Vans have been making a street style comeback over the past few seasons, and their lack of laces makes this the perfect shoe for when you’re racing to your departure gate. Whether you’re hitting the sea or the slopes this season, these white kicks are equal parts stylish and versatile. For the chillier location and flight, throw on some fuzzy socks to keep warm — not the chicest, but the “walking on clouds” result is so worth it.
2. A collapsible down jacket
Sporting a massive down jacket to Hawaii is silly, isn’t it? But perhaps what would be even sillier is walking in a blizzard without a proper jacket. Consider this pick from 32Degrees Weatherproof the perfect solution.
While the duck-down filling will be particularly insulating in the cooler climate, this jacket is easily compressed into a drawstring nylon bag, which will double as an in-flight pillow. This deep olive green offers some subtle energy to those entirely neutral ensembles you wear all winter long, but it’s not as bright as those cherry red swim trunks.
3. A casual chambray shirt
Once upon a time, running around the airport used to be a stylish affair: Men would don their most dapper suits while women coiffed their hair to perfection. Now? Suits have been replaced with sweats, and the only hairstyle anyone’s admiring belongs to the the flight attendants. If you’re looking to step up your flight fashion — while keeping it comfortable for that 18-hour trip and versatile for each location’s forecast — pick up a chambray shirt. Made out of a light, denim-esque weave, this type of shirt juxtaposes dressy and sporty. Unless you’re traveling to the sub-Saharan desert, choose this one from J.Crew that’s 100% cotton, which is more breathable than an artificial polyester or acrylic. As an added bonus, this shirt will mesh beautifully into your destination gear: Pair this with some bright shorts for the warm or a fisherman sweater and dark-wash jeans for the cold.
4. Lightweight track pants
Sure, we mourn the death of fancy airport fashion just as much as the next set of fashion snobs, but let’s get one thing straight: When you’re catching a plane at three o’clock in the morning, a cozy pair of sweatpants is certainly the best option. But if your final destination is a super humid beach, you may be wary to wear these to the airport. So you’ll dig those zip-off sweats circa 2001 out from hiding, right? No, please don’t. Instead, opt for a pair of lightweight pants. This pick from Champion boasts a moisture-wicking Duo Dry fabric aimed to sweat-proof your threads. And when styled right — say with a chambray shirt and slip-on sneakers — this outfit will look more normcore than lazy.
5. A layer-friendly cardigan
As any frequent flyer knows, the key to a comfortable travel ensemble is piling on lightweight layers. Enter the cotton cardigan. Made of an airy fabric, this pick will keep you warm on the chilly flight but, unlike that heavy duty wool version, won’t leave you overheated at either leg of your trip. And since you already debated on whether or not you should bring something for those “cool tropical nights,” think of this piece as a versatile must-have for your whole vacation. We love this option from James Perse because the button funnel neck looks more like an outdoorsy field jacket than something you stole from your grandpa’s closet. Though duller than your vacation threads, the neutral hue will also be great for pairing with your brighter attire.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs