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Ask Avery: Traveling in style

Photo courtesy of Flickr / o5com

blog by Avery Hartmans  • 

Dear Avery,
I recently flew across the country and it made me wonder: what’s the best traveling attire? I obviously don’t want to be uncomfortable on a trans-national flight but I refuse to wear sweatpants in public.

I think we can all agree that long-distance travelers aren’t typically recognized as arbiters of taste. When I think “airport style,” I usually imagine a hot pink Juicy Couture track suit tucked into chestnut-colored Ugg boots paired with a Vera Bradley duffle bag. I clearly haven’t been on an airplane since 2009.

Regardless of my lack of hours clocked waiting at the terminal — full disclosure: that 2009 flight was my one and only — I can say with utter certainty that track suits and Uggs are simply unacceptable. Nor do you have to sacrifice comfort and versatility for fashion. So where is the happy medium?

For starters, take a look at what you’ve been packing in. Is it made out of shiny polyester? Does it have a logo on it? Does it say “Adidas” or “Nike” and have you previously filled it with muddy cleats or game jerseys? In other words, as a grown-up real person, are you still packing in a duffle bag? I hope if that answer is “yes,” you are currently hanging your head in shame. And before you point the finger back at me and say, “Hey, is that a navy blue Adidas duffle I see accompanying you on the Amtrak?” realize that I am in college and also technically still play a sport. You should strive to be better than me.

The moral here: pack your stuff in something versatile, functional and durable. Sports bags or — God forbid — garbage bags are no longer acceptable. If you prefer a duffle to a suitcase, how about something in sturdy canvas in black, tan, gray or Army green with leather straps? If a suitcase is your thing, you can’t go wrong with the classic hard-shell style in a bright color or my favorite — but probably best for the long-term traveler — the Louis Vuitton-style trunk.

Next comes the carry-on. Even if you’re not flying, you need something accessible for your phone/laptop/iPod, as well as for a small make-up bag and whatever else you’d like to keep handy. And here’s where I’ll let you get creative. While I prefer a bright canvas backpack with thick straps since I’m usually traveling with my laptop, a big leather hobo will do the trick, or a roomy tote. And this may seem trivial, but you’ll look like a much more stylish traveler if your carry-on matches your suitcase or duffle. Just sayin’.

Last but not least: your outfit. If you skimmed the last few paragraphs, now’s the time to pay attention. Your travel outfit is crucial, not only for the obvious reasons like comfort, but also because you never know who you’ll meet on your trip. If you end up seeing George Clooney in JFK airport on his way back from Lake Como, do you want to be wearing Sabres sweatpants? Especially now that he might be single? No. No you don’t.

You have a couple of options for maximizing your adorable-ness here. Though I am and always have been on the fence about leggings, especially when you edge into leggings-as-pants territory, they are an acceptable travel outfit option. Paired with a loose, super-soft tee, cozy cardigan, ballet flats and a fall scarf, you’ll be comfy while retaining at least a modicum of style. You better be careful though, because I will be personally checking to see that no leggings get confused with pants. It’s just that I’ve   seen enough see-through pairs of leggings to last me a lifetime.

Your second option, and the one that I heartily endorse, involves jeans. Before you jump down my throat, enough already about jeans being uncomfortable. If you have such a problem wearing them, go buy some Pajama Jeans and stop pretending you care about style. The fact that jeggings and boyfriend jeans exist should appease everyone by now. So how about some boyfriend jeans, leopard-print loafers or tuxedo flats, a striped long-sleeved tee, blazer and ballerina bun? Or, if a blazer is too constricting, swap it out for a cardigan or v-neck sweater. And don’t forget to accessorize: a watch is a must and definitely opt for glasses over contacts.


The best thing about traveling in jeans is that once you arrive at your destination, all you have to do is drop your bag and swap out a few pieces before you head to dinner. Keep the jeans and blazer or cardigan, switch the striped tee for a silk or sequined tank, change into platform pumps, grab a cute clutch and some sparkly statement earrings and shake out your ballerina bun for some loose waves. Spritz on your favorite perfume and you’re out the door. Happy travels! 

Photo courtesy of Flickr / o5com

TAGGED: airports, luggage, tips, travel, travel style, trip

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