Laid-back luxe or sophisticated streetwear: what's your airport look?
From comfy tracksuits and tailored two-pieces to weekend bags and luxury luggage, the sky's the limit when it comes to travel fashion
As boarding a flight becomes more accessible, it is no surprise that “airport fashion” has become a thing. The hashtags #airportfashion and #airportstyle had more than 500,000 posts at the time this piece was written. In May, online fashion database Lyst.com discovered that searches with the word “travel” were up by 22 per cent among its users. This led the retailer to compile a monthly trend report, analysing the behaviour of more than five million online shoppers.
Jane Birkin and Meghan Markle lead the jet set
Of course, travel fashion is by no means a recent phenomenon. Jane Birkin led the charge in the 1960s and 1970s. The British actress pioneered a relaxed yet glamorous look, even while fellow fashion mavens Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor travelled in tailored two-pieces and dramatic fur coats.
Birkin’s go-to ensemble was a pair of loose trousers or simple shorts and lightweight knits under an oversize blazer, thought to belong to her partner, French musician Serge Gainsbourg.
According to Lyst, Birkin is still an airport style icon; searches for Loewe’s basket bag – similar to the one Birkin travelled with – were up 120 per cent last month. Other celebrities include Meghan Markle – notably for her Ingrid & Isabel maternity jacket, which was searched by 30 per cent more people after she wore it – and pop songstress Rihanna – for her mixing of high and low-end pieces
Sports luxe at the airport
Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves and Pharrell Williams are the male celebrities inspiring frequent flyers. Reeves’s vintage Goyard travel bag is very coveted, while music mogul Williams shows us how it’s done in that most laid-back of airport looks: the tracksuit.
The penchant for combining relaxed sportswear with branded labels – known as sports luxe – is as prevalent on the airport runway as it is on the catwalk. Look to Kendall Jenner for how to best wear a tracksuit (unwrinkled, with box-fresh trainers)when travelling.
Leggings and their male equivalent, joggers, are also a favourite with jet-setters. Lyst reports a rise in interest for Versace leggings for women, and Gucci’s jacquard joggers and Asics’s sigma sweatpants for men.
As increasing numbers of travellers choose to jet off for a mini-break, smaller weekend bags are also having a moment. Searches for “weekenders” were up by 104 per cent in May on Lyst, with Gucci, Michael Kors and Balenciaga being the luxury brands women choose to travel arm in arm with, while men look for hardy pieces from Patagonia and Superdry.
Among luxury luggage, the Louis Vuitton monogram canvas Speedy bag, Gucci GG Supreme carry-on, slick rolling suitcase from Prada and savvy Spark Eco suitcase from Samsonite are top choices. Rimowa’s Lite cabin luggage is a popular option for in-the-know travellers looking for something stylish and practical.
If you want to add some oomph to your travel attire, we’ve asked three style purveyors what their ultimate airport looks are and narrowed down some styles for you to take to the skies with.
Arwa Al Banawi: sophisticated streetwear
Saudi Arabian fashion designer Arwa Al Banawi says her eponymous fashion label is aimed at “women on the go”. The designer, who lives in Dubai, is known for her edgy, eclectic and subtly androgynous collections, and has collaborated on limited-edition lines with Adidas and Levi's.
Look to Al Banawai’s spring/summer 2019 collection for a simple two-piece, high-rise flared pants and a loose-fitting blazer jacket layered over a classic T-shirt to travel for a laid-back yet stylish look.
“I like the idea of chic comfort when I travel, so I tend to combine sweatpants, a T-shirt and a trench or blazer for when I land, plus a baseball cap. My ultimate airport look is my comfy We Are a Kingdom tee, a pair of silk sweatpants with gold lace down the side, a Yankees cap and Nike sneakers. I also have a Soraya Bakhtiar phone necklace, which is a total saviour because I forget my phone a lot.”
Top tip: Don’t wear hot shorts or flip-flops on a flight – it’s tacky.
Barbara Janeczek – laid-back luxe
The head of personal styling at Lyst, puts comfort above all else, to the point of travelling with a wool scarf that doubles as a blanket once on-board. Janeczek layers staple items ranging from organic cotton T-shirts to cashmere sweaters and cozy denims for an airport look that is the very definition of laid-back luxury (just ask Alexa Chung).
“For me, comfort is key when travelling, but it’s still important to look presentable. Tailored track pants are my forever staple – Miu Miu, Isabel Marant and Me+Em are the best places to look. The elasticated waist and wrinkle-free material make them easy to sleep in, and stitched creases ensure a smart look when you land. I love wearing them with a simple white tee, which is perfect for hot weather destinations, and a light cashmere jumper in a similar tone. There is also something so elegant about monochrome outfits,” says Janeczek.
“Depending on the season, I would layer with denim for the summer, and a biker jacket during autumn. A pair of mule loafers are easy to remove when going through security and can be swapped for a pair of cosy socks in-flight.
“Although basket bags are a huge trend this year, I don’t think they are the easiest to handle,” she continues. “The classic Le Pliage from Longchamp has been my trusty travel companion."
"The large shopper size folds into a tiny cube and works very well as extra luggage if you did some unexpected shopping while away. It’s also very durable and easy to clean, so it’s perfect for keeping under your seat. I use it to keep my jacket clean when going through security, too.”
Top tip: Bring a spare outfit – a fresh top and underwear – in your carry-on; luggage getting lost or delayed can ruin a trip.
Gabby Garvey – a class act
Personal stylist Gabby Garvey heads up Style Me Dubai, pulling together looks for fashion-savvy women in the UAE. Her personal style is comparable to that of designer Victoria Beckham and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who like to keep things smart when on the move with slick monochrome looks that are simple to pull together even for a red-eye flight. Not for them the tracksuit route.
“I think it’s nice to see people making a little effort in their outfit choices when travelling; you can still have comfort without wearing home slippers and night pyjamas through the airport,” says Garvey. “My go-to choices are smart jersey trousers from Zara, Vince or Theory, and nearly always a smart cotton button-down shirt. A cashmere pashmina is an absolute must as a fashion accessory; it keeps you warm and cosy thousands of metres up in the air.
“My handbag always has a gazillion pockets. Travelling with two little ones means I have to have a separate compartment for each miscellaneous trivial thing as well as my travel documents.”
Top tip: Never wear full-on make-up on a flight; just let your skin breathe. I always travel with Caudalie Beauty Elixir face spray, Kiehl’s lip balm and a hand lotion.
Updated: August 25, 2019 07:20 PM