28 Mar 2017

The Airplane Uniform: 5 Easy Pieces

Airplane Uniform: 5 Easy Pieces on vickiarcher.com

Do you travel in a uniform?

When I am travelling I unintentionally adopt a uniform of sorts. Clothing for comfort, practicality and temperature is the focus when I am headed for the airport. With my “cherry blossom” trip about here, what I wear on the plane is foremost in my mind. London to Tokyo is a million miles away so I want to not only look decent but also feel comfortable.

I won’t be dressing as they did back in the day but neither do I want to travel looking as if I just woke up and left the house without time to dress myself properly. There is athleisure wear and then there is athleisure wear, if you see what I mean. Comfort does not have to equate to poor dressing.

The uniform idea works particularly well when travelling.

After all the miles I have flown I should have it down by now and I think I do. There are some parts of travelling I try and de-stress and by that I mean time on the ground. Too much carry on is a pain in the back, the wrong footwear is annoying and a handbag that doesn’t do what I need it to is downright annoying. We need to make the schlepping part as easy as possible to make sure we arrive in the best state possible.

Airplane Uniform: 5 Easy Pieces on vickiarcher.com

The airplane uniform is simple.

*Comfortable tracksuit style pants and by that I mean loose black pants that look the part but allow me to breathe.

*A long sleeve tee shirt, in a neutral shade and that means black, cream or most likely charcoal grey for me. One spare in case of accidents is always in the carry-on.

*A cashmere or merino wool sweater usually tied around my shoulders or in my handbag that smartens everything up when I arrive and keeps me warm in the air. Cabin temperature is always unpredictable; it is either arctic chill or epic heat wave. Cabin temperature is always unpredictable; it is either arctic chill or epic heat wave.

*The jacket is the key. In particular I wear an army jacket with pockets and the season will determine the weight. This is the best style of jacket ever invented for travelling; the pockets work for mobile phones, passport and wallet; or whatever it is that needs to be kept close by. These days, I like it better than the trench in terms of practicality.

*The one piece I never leave home without is the cashmere shawl. Depending on where I am headed will determine the weight and style of the throw. Tokyo will be cool so a large wrap will be in my carry on for this trip. This shawl doubles as a blanket for not only warmth but also comfort. The blankets given by airlines are usually treated and cleaned with products I would prefer to leave alone.

Airplane Uniform: 5 Easy Pieces on vickiarcher.com

Then there is the footwear.

As much as I would like to tell you I am strutting through Heathrow in go-go boots or blocked heels, it is nowhere near the truth. Sneakers and trainers are such an item that I have given up every other shoe in favour of these for travelling. I add an extra pair of warm socks to my carry-on to wander around in and also keep my feet warm. For a long flight such as this one I will wear those not-so-pretty support socks; they work so I will.

This uniform might not be the snappiest or the most memorable but most importantly it is a tried and proven formula. With the right combination of accessories it is easy to look smart enough.

Can’t wait to start packing; this will be a way more complicated job. xv

The Airplane Uniform: 5 Easy Pieces

**slouchy silk crepe ankle pants  ||  crop knit pants  ||  silk tee  || ballet neck 3/4  ||  raglan cashmere sweater

**theory washed chino jacket  ||  ***hanni b field jacket  ||  ** madeleine thompson  ||  joseph fringed cashmere wrap

images, ellen unwerth for vogue

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Taste of France

Yes to layers! Extreme temps are guaranteed–you just never know whether it will be very hot or very cold or one and then the other. I like slip-on shoes for quickly getting them off and back on at security (also for slipping my feet out while on the plane). Some people wear their bulkiest shoes, to keep them out of the suitcase.


Now I find I never have to remove my sneakers… thankfully… I cannot quite understand why some shoes have to come off and others stay… The joys of security :)


Very good and useful tips! Packing is the hardest part of traveling I think :) but with these tips it will be easier!

Beth Anderson

I am an accident packer too. Pack just enough extra just in case (which hasn’t happened yet other than an errant roll with butter on it once, knock on wood – and water a few times).

I’m more worried about pants because I always have plenty of tops and they are easier to come by (thinking fit, not just a mere purchase).

On long haul flights I always make sure the plastic bag which the blanket came in is over my lap which is over the blanket – again, just in case. Then again I fly economy and in cramped quarters it’s easier for an elbow to make an oops.


That’s why I always have an extra tee-shirt in my bag… Only once did I sit on a long haul flight covered in orange juice… it could have been worse but that was bad enough ;)

david terry

Oh, Vicki……..surely you’ve read that achingly funny and all-too-true essay by the American expatriate/writer, David Sedaris (who, curiously enough, grew up twenty miles from where I’m typing just now in North Carolina, USA)….from is collection, “Me Talk Pretty Some Day?”. He and his partner, Hugh, livedin France for a number of years before decamping for elsewhere.

In any case…..in one of the essays, he writes of encountering, on the Paris Metro, some visiting, American-tourist couple from (as is made ALL TOO CLEAR) Texas. Sedaris’s great line (and I’m paraphrasing) is:

“Why do some people apparently think it’s okay to visit a foreign country, dressed as though you came to mow its lawn?”.

Advisedly as ever,

David Terry

Mimi Gregor

You mentioned having trouble coming up with titles, but no problem with the prose. I had exactly the same problem when I was writing fan fiction. I could sit down and write a drabble (a very, very short story) in no time flat. Coming up with a title was horrendous, however, and I was never very good at that. I wonder why one is so easy and the other so difficult.


I can’t figure it out Mimi.. but sometimes I almost leave the title blank through lack of inspiration!


Hi Vicki! For those oh so useful Support socks, have you discovered Sockwell compression socks? Fashionable AND they seriously get the job done. I don’t travel with any others! Best regards, CMN


This so too resonates with me. I am nearly leaving for a month in Spain, and like you, have a long (20 hour) flight from Australia to London. I too, have got a similar “flying” wardrobe down pat, everything comfortable and still stylish and smart looking, and yes the dreaded “support stockings” are on underneath, essential I feel when one undertakes such a long journey. I so look forward to hearing all about your Japan adventure, considering it is really on my doorstep, I have yet to venture there, then again, do I chose to go in Cherry blossom time, or for skiing, as a break from our long hot summer.


You may have to choose to go twice, Margaret :) I shall be writing about and taking many photographs of the blossom trees …

D. A. Wolf

I love your illustrations!
As for my years of international travel (in particular), I always went for Black, and as many layers as possible, including a gorgeous large scarf. I confess that when I was younger, I actually traveled in heels and skirts or dresses, though usually only on domestic flights when off to see a client. (Best I recall, air travel was less of a hassle then, too.) Besides wanting to be comfortable and look at least moderately presentable, there is the fact that airports and flights are wonderful opportunities to meet interesting people. I met one of my great loves in an airport and on a flight that followed, and for that matter the father of my children as well (eh oui, that’s two examples).

On that note, I highly recommend air travel for meeting interesting men.


In all the years I have flown, the thousands and thousands of miles, I have never, ever sat next to an attractive man… ha ha… Maybe they see me coming ;) ;)


If you travel alone internationally, as I did for work for years, you tend to meet more people than when travelling with one’s partner. Once sat next to an absolutely gorgeous guy, flying long haul out of Heathrow. I’d spent a couple of days in London after attending a conference in Copenhagen where about half the delegates came down with a terrible flu that had spread like wildfire. I was the passenger you dread sitting next to for a long haul –even for just 10 minutes. I coughed my heart out and sneezed and snuffled. Immediately he sat down I apologised to him for having to sit next to me (the plane seemed to be full).
He couldn’t have been nicer. He was a futures broker and after completing whatever business he’d had in London he’d taken a five day skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps. He said he’d had such a great time that nothing could spoil it for him. Anyway after take-off he jumped up and took down his carry-on bag from the locker, rummaged around and finally, triumphantly flourished a jar of Vix (a decongestant rub). He handed it to me and advised me to rub it on all the problem bits. He turned out to be another Aussie of course. Such a nice companion for long haul despite the dreadful fevered sneezing person he was sitting next to.


Just thinking about this myself. My biggest desire is to arrive looking the same as I did when I boarded. Of course, the destination decides what I’m wearing more than anything else. And, yes, I have it down to a science, as you say. My next purchase will be NEW state-of-the-art luggage as there are NO sherpas at the airports these days, are there? Sending love & can’t wait to hear where you’re going.


Great post and tips. Can’t believe what people wear these days when they travel and even worse when they take their shoes off with holes in their socks and stinky feet, lol. Sorry ;)

Our French Oasis

I always travel with a cashmere shawl, as you say it is the one thing that is almost indispensable, it’s a blanket, it keeps us warm and it look super cool when we arrive! Shoes, let’s face it sneakers are now so cool, that finally we can walk miles through the airport whilst looking the part and being comfortable. We never had it so good!


I once saw a woman have the orange juice that comes before take off get spilt all over her by the husband. I wonder if that was you! I have always taken some spare clothes for this reason. Why is it that those in the long haul upper classes all sit in pyjamas nice and comfortable even before take off and those in economy wear their clothes all the flight. Perhaps we all need to get changed into PJs that we bring with us and get changed soon after take off.


Best to pack an umbrella and spare shoes. It was rainy and windy in Tokyo three days ago. My daughter ended up walking around with cold, wet feet. She regretted not packing her Chelsea boots.


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