The Secret of Travelling in Style

It's a wrap.

Words: Lee Tulloch

Sheila Scotter, the former Australian Vogue editor who famously wore only black and white, once told me her secret for having a trouble-free passage through customs and immigration – always wear a hat. (Her steely gaze might have had something to do with it, too.)

While I’ve never taken her advice, I can see her point. The right hat worn confidently (we’re not talking beanies) might suggest a certain status to a harassed immigration official who has just processed a hundred scruffy travellers ahead of her. But Sheila is no longer with us and neither are the old ways of processing visitors. With face recognition technology and computerised immigration records, it’s unlikely anyone behind the immigration desk pays much attention to your style.

In fact, the objective these days is not to stand out, otherwise you risk being perpetually delayed by security people wanting to test you for explosives. But that’s no excuse to wear pyjamas at the airport, which is the standard travelling outfit of many of my fellow Australians.

They’re they go – lining up for immigration in flannelette pyjama pants with pink pigs on them, wearing thongs, a hoodie and clutching a pillow.  And they’re not even flying to Bali! They’re going to London in mid-winter.

While the practicality of this is undoubted (I hope they have socks in their backpacks, though) I can’t help feeling that arriving at your destination wearing flannelette pyjamas is the best psychological approach to take to travel. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to arrive how I intend to continue – with a certain amount of dignity. Even if I’m crumpled from a long night of the black soul in economy, I always have some fresh clothes packed and a good coat or cashmere shawl to cover the whole sorry mess.

Even if I’m crumpled from a long night of the black soul in economy, I always have some fresh clothes packed.

I was once in the First Class cabin on a flight from Malaysia to Sydney and a female passenger plonked down in her leather seat wearing a halter-top, miniscule hot pants, bare legs and six-inch heels. Not  once did she ask for a blanket even though the air conditioning was chilly. The cabin was almost empty of eligible businessmen so I think the poor girl froze for nothing.

I’m not suggesting you dress like you’re going to a job interview, although it’s also surprising how many women board a long-haul flight looking this way, in a neat suit, pantyhose, heeled shoes and full makeup. Common sense would suggest that it’s not healthy to travel in Spanx.

It’s true there aren’t that many inducements for arriving at check in looking like Elizabeth Taylor in The VIPs. Airports aren’t glamorous places, and no amount of Bally shops will compensate for the time spent shuffling through security in our post-9/11 world. And dressing smartly in the hope of getting a cabin upgrade is a fool’s dream these days. I’m not sure it ever did work, although my husband claims it was his linen suit that once got him that upgrade on an Air France flight Paris to New York – and a seat next to Charlotte Rampling.

But what about dressing noicely because flying is a special occasion? I’ve never lost the rush of excitement and apprehension I got when I first boarded an international flight, UTA to Paris. An airplane might be like a bus to some, but for me, boarding one is still an event. So why not dress for it?

Stylishly comfortable is what we’re aiming for here. Dark colours, because drinking red wine during turbulence is not conducive to wearing white or pastels. Wear slip-on shoes so that you don’t have to undo laces at security checkpoints. Men often do better in the stylish traveller stakes because they wear tailored jackets that can be hung up during the flight and put back on, nice and crisp, upon arrival. Women should do the same – stretchy underneath, tailored on top.

The Luxe Nomad’s secret is her Jen Hart Everyday Cashmere cashmere wrap. It’s a scarf when it’s cold. It’s a head covering in when I go to a mosque. It covers up food accidents. It’s an effective blanket when I’m stuck in a seat with Arctic air conditioning. And I can wrap it around my head, Burka-like, when I don’t want to talk to the stranger beside me.

Don’t need a hat.








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