The next time you’re in an airport – in the departure lounge, dropping people off, in the Admiral’s Lounge (lucky you), have a look around and see what people are wearing. Most of the time, particularly with long haul travel we dress for comfort, not caring what we look like when we arrive, ready to go off as fast as possible to home/hotel/friends house or whatever and refresh.
Recently I flew to Dallas and was determined to arrive looking my best as I would be going straight out – not easy as I’m sure you’ll agree after ten hours in a plane at the back (actually from this point of view it doesn’t really matter where you sit, you’re still going to potentially end up creased, hot and bothered).
Which seriously got me thinking about travel, by car, train or plane, and how it might be possible to arrive with style no matter how tired you might feel, and still feel comfortable during the journey. Track pants and t-shirts are fine for travelling provided you don’t mind how you look at the other end, and if you travel with young kids this is almost certainly not for you, but for a comfortable journey and chic arrival this is my list;
Firstly just a couple of things; if you’re on a plane don’t drink alcohol. This is so very boring I know, and so many times I’ve ignored it, however having travelled long haul on American Airlines a couple of weeks ago where you had to pay for drinks at the back, and not bothering to get out my card, I did feel soooooo much better when I arrived just having drunk water all the way. And my did I need that margarita then!
Also if you wear contact lenses, as I do, take them out. This whole dehydration thing going on in the air is for real. I take my specs, cope with the fact that I can’t see long distance (and why would I need to?) and hate hate wearing glasses but when I put them in when I arrive my eyes are not dry and my lenses work perfectly.
1. Invest in a pair of high quality jersey pants. Me & Em offer a seriously upmarket version (on sale at time of writing) and Eileen Fisher’s wonderful stretch crepe trousers may seem expensive, but the pair I bought about eight years ago are still perfect and machine wash perfectly. If buying from M & S make sure that you’re not buying pure cotton, but a jersey pair with lycra and please ignore the velour……………..aren’t we just so over all that?
The beauty of these is that they won’t crease, they’re extremely comfortable and you can wear them with flip-flops or trainers on a flight (I always go for the former if I’m going to end up somewhere hot) and change into the pair of heels you have tucked away in your cabin bag when you arrive. They should not be ‘baggy’ in any way but sleek and fluid - this is why you need the extra stretch in the fabric.
2. Travel with a cashmere wrap or pashmina – again this has a double use, firstly as a blanket if you’re chilly, and secondly as a luxurious accessory on arrival when most airports have air conditioning and even in the hottest places you may need something round your shoulders on arrival that you can slip off easily when you’re out in the heat.
3. Wear a high quality, simple t-shirt with lots of stretch in it. The best by far are by Wolford and again they may seem expensive but last forever and never fade. Marks & Spencer’s Autograph also have some very good ones. The key is to make sure that there is plenty of lycra/spandex/elastane for a good fit.
4. Buy a draped cardi such as this one from Kew – in jersey, silk and cotton or a fine wool mix – smarter than an ordinary cardigan and less inhibiting than a jacket yet these can take you from meeting to dinner with ease.
If Jean Muir, who specialised in this kind of relaxed, luxurious elegance, was still in business I would be recommending that you buy just a couple of pieces from her timeless collection, which always stayed pristine and lasted for years. Sadly she is not, however this is a look that never dates, wears perfectly in pretty well any situation and most travellers will envy you for, both in transit and on arrival. Trust me, I know these things.
Oh yes, and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, essential for arrivals and one of Trish McEvoy’s handbag size planners which I’ve written about before (If she’s not online at Selfridges yet check the brand out here then call Selfridges to order on 0207 318 3861 . Tuck compact foundation, powder, blush, lip gloss, liner and mascara in one of these and refresh your make-up before landing (or any other type of arriving).
I’ve learnt through trial and error that if I’m better to dress for a smart arrival than casual travel as planes, trains and ferries are frequently late, I may just may not have time to change before going out for that margarita and you never know who you’re going to want to impress, now do you?