Balancing comfort and style while regularly logging over 100,000 miles a year in flights (or even doing a few trans-oceanic flights a year) isn’t easy. I’m good at identifying comfort – fortunately my wife, daughter and mother-in-law can help with the style. Icebreaker and LuluLemon are the two brands with multiple entries on my list.
While comfort and avoiding looking like a clown are the top priority on the flight – it is a huge bonus if the clothes you’re wearing can also be back up inventory for what you are doing on the trip. This is really useful if your bags get lost! For important trips – get their with a day buffer. Always have backup gear on you for a business meeting.
Nordstrom’s Smartcare dress shirt has great breathability (which makes it comfortable) and is practically indestructible. In a pinch I’ve worn it straight off of +10 hour flight into a meeting. My daughter has chosen pink versions for me.
Icebreaker has two entries in upper body wear, with more elsewhere. Most important is their hoodie – I travel with a 200 gsm for chilly flights and as backup for weather changes. A lighter weight 120 gsm is great for back up – they are easy to wash and don’t get smelly if you have to re-wear it in a pinch. With both, layering for warmth is easy.
Polartec’s PowerShield Pro and Neoshell products are some of the most advanced membranes you can buy for outerwear. I’ve been traveling regularly with a Kishtwar jacket by The North Face and appreciate its ability to keep my dry without making me sweat up a storm.
Slacks & Shorts
LuluLemon returns with their ABC Pant. The fabric is reminiscent of a leisure suit from the 1970s, but the cut is right and it has survived several spills and tumbles. Writing up this post made me start thinking more about pant and slack comfort and fabrics.
For shorts – O’Neill’s Ultimate Board Shorts are not an exageration. Now branded as the Traveler Freak Hybrid Board Shorts, they are just dressy enough to look nice when paired with a collared shirt, can dry quickly if used as swim trunks and have enough pockets to get you wherever you need to go. Getting in a run or exercise session helps jetlag and aids in sleeping – because of that, keeping a pair of LuluLemon shorts convenient helps keep my body clock on schedule.
Boxers & Socks
Jobst compression socks. I had a DVT in mid-2015. Prior to that, I’d always been focused on blood flow safety on long flights, but that certainly focused my awareness. These are comfortable, easy to wash and are on every physician’s recommended use list for blood clot care. Icebreaker socks are great for shorter flights in either dress shoes or sneakers.
I met the Saxx team at ORS in 2015 – their booth proudly proclaimed, “Life Changing Underwear.” They aren’t kidding. It isn’t the fabric (for that, I’d been using Icebreaker), but instead the garment design. Saxx uses a cloth cup or jock-strap in their design that is very comfortable and this really is true on a long flight.
Shoes & Belts
Learning to wear minimalist shoes for long flights and the long walks through airports has reduced foot and knee pain. It took me some time to build up front strength such that I could wear these kinds of shoes for the long walks common in traversing airports. I prefer either New Balance Minimus if something less dressy is okay or VivoBarefoot if dressier is better.
Reversible dress belt. My current belt was purchased in a 3-pack from Costco, but I’ve found other good versions on Amazon. Amazon also has many metal-free belts for getting through security easily, several of these are also reversible.