Style is key, but comfort and utility are paramount when you’re on the road. The best outfit for travel, keeps you comfortable, confident and presentable in any situation you might encounter.
First impressions are indeed lasting and looking good tends to gets things off on the right foot. Pants are the foundation of any travel ensemble– literally and figuratively. They usually make up the most visual and functional part of your travel outfit. Maintaining shape and comfort through an hours-long gauntlet of standing, walking, sitting and securing everything from cash to keys and cold fingers is no mean feat.
I’m not a sweats on airplanes type. Comfy though they are– it’s just not me. I like to be prepared to go from the airport to whatever the day might hold if necessary– and sweats aren’t versatile enough. Jeans can be dressed up or down, but to hit my travel comfort zone the denim would need to be mixed with more Lycra than most leggings. Lycra isn’t the issue. In fact, most of my favorite travel trousers blend it with natural fibers such as cotton or wool. It’s the blend that makes them worth more than the sum of its parts.
Slacks, trousers, pants, chinos; it doesn’t matter what you call them– the only key is that they have some synthetic fabric (Viscose, Lycra, Elastane,etc.) in the mix. The perfect amount will keep them wrinkle-free and help maintain their shape and comfort during prolonged periods of contortion, hustle and bustle. Fortunately, the Athleisure movement in menswear means that there are more options than ever before. No matter your style, you can find a pair of pants to take you from the concourse to the golf course and dinner afterward with only a minor tweak to your accessories. I own blue, khaki and black versions from Levi’s, Lululemon, Zara and Club Monaco that have all traveled well. They’re a good safeguard against being a wrinkled, disheveled mess from the waist down when I reach my destination.
Shirts are much easier. Find your favorite knit shirt or sweater in a color that makes your skin tone pop. Wear that. Fabric is important here too– but for different reasons. I tend toward 100% natural fibers for travel because of their typical softness and breathability. Your shirt is mostly covering your torso– and likely under a jacket at some point– so it’ll have less movement to stand up to than your other garments. Stay away from button downs unless you’re wearing a suit (Cheers if you are!). Buttons pop. And you don’t need a wayward fastener adding to the stress of navigating through planes, trains and automobiles.
Jackets are tricky; since the perfect option depends on why, where and when you’re traveling. Unless the weather outside is frightful, my clutch choice for the journey is an unconstructed blazer. It can go from casual to fly in less than sixty seconds and the soft shoulders keep it from looking corporate if you have to dress it up. Known alternatively as blazers, sportcoats and odd jackets– they come in enough styles and fabrics to serve you well in all but the most extreme climates and circumstances. Knit, wool, cotton, linen even denim and nylon versions make great travel companions. Navy blue is most prevalent in my blazer selection, but the full spectrum of colors and fabrics is represented in my wardrobe.
Last– but certainly not least– shoes are your sartorial stalwart. They can make or break a borderline ensemble and send a smashing outfit into the stratosphere. For travel, they need to be comfortable. Repeat. Comfortable. Don’t trade comfort for anything. Not style. Not savings. Nothing. Disregard this advice at your own peril. Travel footwear, like a jacket, is situation dependent. Hence, I have three goto options.
In winter I’m all about a chelsea boot. It’s a classic and comes in varieties ranging from minimalist luxe to strappy and fashion-forward. For warmer weather the destination and purpose of the trip (and my mood) dictate either a favorite sneaker or a stylish slip on loafer. The loafer gets the nod when I want to add a bit of savoir faire. Otherwise, it’s tennis shoes for me.
Of course, this list is subject to your personal style, the weather and your mood as you embark on your next adventure. But as a baseline– it’s hard to go wrong with this travel uniform.