Our recent article on What to wear in the air proved quite popular with readers and generated some good discussion and sharing of tips. And as this was aimed more at the 'business casual' business traveller, we felt a follow-up for those with even more casual leanings -- let's call it 'start-up casual' -- was in order.
That's my preferred style. A nice pair of jeans, t-shirt, button-down shirt and a casual jacket if it's chilly. So here are some wardrobe suggestions if you want to look 'put together' while speeding through security, relaxing on board and hitting the ground running on arrival.
Since I don't tend to travel in a suit, I'll often wear a casual jacket -- a tweed or moleskin suits my personal style. A jacket is useful if it's a little chilly outside, and especially useful when travelling since it brings a number of extra pockets for wallets, passports and gadgets.
(At the security station, I empty my trouser pockets into the jacket pockets, fold up the jacket and pop it in its own x-ray machine tray.)
If your jacket doesn't have enough pockets for all your kit, any drycleaner or tailor should be able to pop an extra pocket in for you. I know one frequent flyer who had a Kindle-sized pocket sewn into a jacket.
Button-down shirt -- with a pocket
I always travel in a button-down shirt with a pocket.
The shirt can be dressed up or down as you fancy, and the pocket is very useful for your boarding pass (plus passport and assorted fast track/express path documents, lounge invitations, frequent flyer card and customs forms if you're on a longer trip), particularly as you walk through the security metal detector.
Extra t-shirt in the carry-on
I wear a t-shirt under the button-down and tend to take the button-down off during an overnight flight. Planes are often warmer than a home or hotel would be, and if I get cold there's always a blanket.
Putting a fresh t-shirt on when facing the world after a long flight -- especially an overnight flight -- always makes me feel more human, especially if I have a chance for a shower on arrival.
My footwear of choice for a flight is the zip-up ankle boot: smart like a business shoe, can be dressed up or down, but very easy to take on and off for security and on the plane.
(Eagle-eyed readers will note that John's tan zip-up boots feature in the legroom pics in many of our flight reviews – Ed)
This type of boot is particularly useful on long flights, since I prefer to kick off my shoes on the plane when seated, but don't want to go socks-only when walking around. I very rarely get swollen ankles after a flight, but if I do then I can just clump around in the boots without zipping them up until the swelling goes down.
Aim to get a pair without a metallic structure in the sole, or have them resoled if they keep setting off the metal detector.
If you can swing a non-metal belt buckle in your personal style, that's a great idea if you're a frequent flyer -- anything to reduce the amount of metal on your person when going through the detectors.
Canvas belts with non-metallic buckles are a good option (even if just for travel), but if leather is a must for you then pick one up with a small buckle.
Pair of shorts or pyjamas
For an overnight flight, it's hard to beat a pair of comfy shorts or pyjamas when sleeping. They also help to keep whatever trousers you're wearing fresh and wrinkle-free.
If you're up in the pointy end of the plane, then you may well be given a pair of PJs for the flight. But if not -- or if you'd rather wear your own -- pack them in your hand baggage.
What's your number one travel wardrobe item?
Of all those pieces of kit, I reckon zip-up boots make the biggest difference to speeding through security, remaining comfortable on board and looking "put together" when arriving.
What's your favourite travel clothing item, and what's your own twist on 'start-up casual' style for your flights? Share your thoughts with other AusBT readers in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter: we're @AusBT.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.