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style file: travel in style

style + fashion

the art of getting dressed.

style file: travel in style

Caitlin Surakitbanharn

it's not a secret that for the past 3 years, i've been living abroad.  and with this comings a LOT of flying.  and i'm not talking a few hours.  we've been posted up in Tokyo, Bangkok, and now Brisbane...and these amazing places to live are an epic journey to/from the US, no doubt about it.  Tokyo is a cool 12.5 hours from most major US cities, Bangkok is a casual 18 JUST to LA, and Brisbane is 14 to LA.   after three years of enduring flights like this, it makes the 2 hour flight from Chicago to NYC feel like the blink of an eye.  a particularly epic flight, in my opinion, was our jaunt from New York to Dubai.  it was 12.5 hours but it felt like a LIFETIME.

epic flights pose a lot of different kinds of challenges from dehydration to boredom to ankle swelling and beyond.  but i'm going to come out and say it: this is not an excuse to look busted when you're flying internationally (or flying ever).  nothing irks me more in an airport than seeing people in like oversized sweatshirts, yoga pants/sweatpants, carrying a huge pillow, and wearing flip flops.  like WHAT IF YOU MET A HOT PERSON ON THIS FLIGHT?  or even worse...what if you sit next to the person that owns the company that is literally your DREAM JOB on that flight... and you're in your pajamas?!  

i once read this book, Classy by Derek Blasberg, and it had this whole chapter about how to not look a mess at the airport, for exactly those reasons.  additionally.. i think it's chic to get off the plane and arrive in a foreign country and you step off the plane and get that little gust of wind on the jetway and be like...I'M HERE, BITCHES! 

this sounds nuts and vain and i know that.  but there's a point here.  the point is: it doesn't have to be like this in order to stay comfortable to a long-haul flight.  there are so many tricks to the trade, you guys.  so many ways to stay happy, relaxed, well-rested and still look good when you land (and ON the plane!)!

this is how i imagine i look when i get off the plane. like please, no photos!  love you all! i woke up like this!  image via

this is how i imagine i look when i get off the plane. like please, no photos!  love you all! i woke up like this!  image via

so OK we all know that yoga pants/sweatshirts/etc look kind of busted in public (unless you're going to yoga!), but no one wants to wear a skin tight pencil skirt and 4 inch heels on a plane either.  so what's the middle ground? we have to be realistic... Carmen Kass' Michael Kors look up there is gorgeous but when you are slammed in a little econ class seat, that's not going to happen.  so here's how i do it.


i go for one of two routes: boyfriend jeans and layers up top...or leggings (gasp, yes you can still wear leggings!) with a cute little shift dress over it.  either way, i always go with my favorite Superga slip-on sneakers (they're so comfy but still chic!  plus, easy removal for security).  for the jeans option, i usually go with a lightweight tank and a gauzy kimono-style wrap that keeps me warm but not hot.  for the edgier look, i usually will bring my comfy field jacket to wear on top when i get chilly.  both of these options are comfortable, not messy, and look pulled together.  

and here is how i literally do it.

(first look) jacket, The Gap. leggings, Lululemon. dress, Cotton On.  backpack, Everlane. shoes, Superga. (second look) jeans, ReDone. tank, The Row. kimono top, StyleMint. backpack, sneakers, same.

**bring an extra pair of panties in your carry-on.  12+ hours on a gross, honestly.  when you're about 1 hour away from landing...slip into the bathroom and change your underwear (and brush your teeth).  you will literally feel like a new woman.  i usually go with Agent Provocateur ones because they make me feel glam.**

staying warm/sleeping

i refuse to fly without my wool cashmere pashmina (shown above!) that my husband gave me from his trip to India when he was younger.  he calls it my security blanket.  it's lightweight, it's gigantic, it's SUPER warm....and when you're jammed in like sardines, even on a Dreamliner, the scratchy airline blanket is literally the last thing you want to snuggle up with.  bringing your own large pashmina that doubles as a blanket is my #1 go-to tip for flying comfortably.  i wrap myself up in this thing and it feels like i'm right at home (plus i know no one else has used it or and there's nothing questionable on it!).  


there's nothing wrong with a cute, ethically sourced backpack as your carry-on.  i LOVE my Everalne bag, and it carries everything i need.  i slip my laptop in there, but never bring it out on a flight (who needs work when you have a huge supply of free movies!).  i always bring a BIG book (the last flight from Australia to LA and back, i was captivated by the latest in the Millennium series!), my Beats headphones (again, bring your own for comfort, don't use the ones they give you!), and my own water bottle.  

**BRING A WATER BOTTLE** this will help you drink enough water while en-route.  flight attendants will be HAPPY to refill your water bottle at ANY time during the flight, and drinking water is the most important in-flight activity possible.  you should be downing a full bottle of water every 2-3 hours.  this helps combat dehydration, fatigue, swelling, and constipation.  do it.


flying is kind of brutal and it sometimes feels hard to stay cute when you're like...sleeping in a small-ass seat like a contortionist and breathing nasty dry air... it's just not cute.  the best thing you can do for you skin is ..don't wear any makeup.  nothing.  no mascara, no foundation, nothing.  and if you want to wear makeup in the airport, use these awesome neutrogena makeup wipes to clean your face before take-off.  

what i do is - i get all the makeup off my face, i slather some lotion on my face (you guys, Japanese Biore face lotions are ALL I NEED FOREVER. go to your local japanese market to find one and try it and you'll NEVER GO BACK to that basic ass american stuff!), and then i use this amazing Ole Hendricksen's lip balm.  it's exfoliating so you won't get lizard lips, and it gives your lips a little splash of red color.   and anyways...airplane are dimly lit anyways so even without makeup you'll still look good because everyone looks good in low light.

oh but then when you land, pull out your lipstick (i love Clinique Chubby Sticks!) and swipe some lipstick on for that dramatic exit!

bonus tips:

  • wear your hair in a braid in-flight.  when you land, take it out, shake it out, and exit with glam wavy hair
  • go to the bathroom often and take the long way.  do leg stretches while waiting your turn, every time
  • bring small snacks for in-between meal times, but don't forget that the flight attendants will usually have snacks so just ask
  • the flight attendants are your friends and they are so helpful...if you need anything (like more water, snacks, juice, or a tampon), just ask and they will almost always be able to help you out
  • watch all the movies you can handle, but turn the screen off when you're ready to nap
  • if you have a dietary restriction, food allergy or the airline ahead of time and request a special meal.  they will almost ALWAYS be able to accommodate you and ensure you don't go hungry on your flight!
  • ok YES the wine is free - but only have one or two glasses.  boozing hard on long flights is NEVER a good idea.  EVER. 

safe/chic travels, guys.  oh and i'll tell you a story: so when i moved to Japan to be with Jao, i took this whole thing a step farther.  i had my travel outfit and then i CHANGED into a dress and cute shoes and matching lingerie when we were like an hour away, brushed my teeth and put makeup on.  SO I'D LOOK REALLY CUTE WHEN I LANDED AND WE HAD OUR DRAMATIC AIRPORT KISS!  obviously!  

(it's kind of a blurry picture but that is literally me on the train upon landing in Japan.  i look tired but overall i'll take it!)