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If you travel a lot for work, chances are you’ve got your airport outfit down pat. You glide through security like George Clooney in Up In The Air. For the rest of us, deciding what to wear on the annual pilgrimage home is trickier. You could don all your heaviest items to save luggage weight. But then you’ll overheat on a stuffy train. And where are you going to put your passports? Or your house keys?

Thankfully, Thread stylist Alexander McCalla is on hand to dish out some hard-earned advice. “Avoid structured pieces like tailored blazers,” he says. “Instead, go for t-shirts, sweatshirts, or really soft knits. If you need to look smart, unstructured blazers and cardigans work better than having a full-blown suiting option while travelling. Not only is it harder to keep tailoring looking fresh while on the road, but it’s also hard to be comfortable in them.”


“I remember one time I was wearing a pair of Converse while flying,” says Alexander. “I’d taken my shoes off for the flight and my ankles had swollen so much that by the time we landed, I couldn’t do up the laces.” Which is why, nowadays, he always recommends a pair of slip-on shoes for travelling.

“Vans are comfortable, but also easy to put on and take off,” he says. “When you’re flying, there’s not much room in your seat for you to deal with lacing up shoes, so you want something quick and easy.” Don’t make the mistake of opting for flip-flops, though. You’ll get cold feet and they’re not the safest option if you have to run for the departure gate.


Speaking of running for flights, Alexander once made it from the car park to his seat in 30 minutes, thanks to an ingenious packing solution: a bumbag. Shove in your passport, boarding pass, gadgets, wallet and emergency sweets, and going through security will be a breeze. What’s more, it also keeps your hands free. On long-haul flights, add some deodorant and some eye drops, so you can look – and feel – refreshed when you hit the runway.


“A baseball cap protects you from rain without having to lug around an umbrella,” says Alexander. You can also slide it over your eyes if you fancy a snooze but forgot your sleep mask. And unlike a beanie, you won’t overheat if your air con nozzle is broken.


Whether you’re in a plane, train or automobile, you want to be in the most comfortable trousers possible. Sweatpants are comfy, but don’t make the best impression once you arrive. So try something that blends sportswear with tailoring. “Drawstring trousers are perfect for travelling,” says Alexander. “If you go for a pair that, from the waistband down, look like chinos, you can stay smart while being pretty damn comfortable.”

Pick something in a plain neutral colour, made out of a breathable material and without any tracksuit stripes (they’ll give the game away). You’ll feel like you’re wearing pyjama bottoms, but look like someone who would never sleep in.

Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell and Chris Howlett
Styling: Freddie Kemp