The paparazzi made up the term “airport look” after following celebrities for years and convincing us of its existence along the way. We mean, who wouldn’t want to throw on a maxi dress, wrap up with a neck pillow (and maybe a blanket), and put all their stuff in a tote?
But sometime in the 1990s, before you could creepily stalk pictures of Cindy Crawford cooking turkey on Instagram when tabloid magazines needed pictures of celebrities doing things, the airport became a sort of gold mine for photographers. In fact, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is said to have become their permanent breeding ground. This is how celebrity photographer Ron Galella got a lot of attention and became well-known. Soon, our favorite A-listers had to give up their sloppy, comfortable, and maybe a little bit smelly sweatpants for real outfits with style.
Amanda says it best when she says, “Air travel is not glamorous and requires careful planning of accessories and maximum functionality. However, the best ideas for how to solve problems come from an unlikely place: celebrities.”
But the group of famous people is by no means small or uniform. Each one has their own style. For example, Harry Styles wears stylish pink velvet pants with a black cardigan (yes, that’s 4 “styles” in one sentence! ), while Bella Hadid chooses a silver fur coat with a metallic finish. Because of this, there is now a whole list of “must-haves” (or more accurately, multiple lists, depending on who you ask) when it comes to what to wear on an airplane.
Athleisure is still popular because it lets you sleep comfortably, but that’s about all the big names in fashion can agree on when it comes to the perfect airport look. White tennis shoes? Some people will start to question your sense of style if you don’t wear them everywhere, always. Others take a more practical approach. For example, it’s not normal to land at Heathrow and have your Air Jordan 1 ’07s get soaked in muddy rainwater.
On the other hand, some people would say that no matter where you’re going, you should dress in layers. On the other hand, some people might say that wearing light, airy clothes is the best way to deal with long security lines and limited legroom.
So, what do you actually decide to go with? In fact, with the possible exception of a school, the airport is probably the only place where everyone has some kinds of bags.
We believe that a well-placed purse can instantly make any outfit look better, even if the outfit itself isn’t that great. Especially at the airport, where everyone else is wearing boring black coats (or, in our country, some kind of fake logo t-shirt), this is sure to get you a lot of compliments. But don’t do a lot of research on “designer duffles” just yet. Your airport purse doesn’t have to be a carry-on all the time. We are not a big fan of duffle or duffle-style purses for your airport look, to be honest. Even though Bella Hadid wears her Givenchy Lucrezia dress in a lot of styles. But if your handbag is like a big black hole and doesn’t have any exterior pockets that are big enough to hold your phone, headphones, passport, and boarding passes, it probably isn’t the best choice. Also, duffles can get heavy. Imagine having to carry that around if your flight is late or you have to stop somewhere.
So, what should you bring with you to the airport? Don’t worry, we have put together a list of some of the best purses that are both stylish and useful. This is a great way to look great at the airport!
1. Boxy tote bag
The Birkin was a bag that was made during a flight, especially for air travel. What could be more appropriate for an airport than that? Most likely not. This luxury carryall is a favorite of every Kardashian and Jenner, as well as Eva Longoria. You can carry it with the flap tucked in like an open tote or with the flaps closed and padlock in place to keep prying hands out.
But besides this very expensive option, there is the Versace Palazzo Empire, which is a favorite of Gigi Hadid, a classic and understated Ralph Lauren Ricky, or the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour (bless its heart), which is a favorite of Miranda Kerr and Kim Jaejoong. It has an organized, three-compartment interior, so you can keep your easily-reachable items in the open pockets and zip your more important items in the center pouch. If you want one that zips all the way around, a Céline Mini (or Micro) Luggage might be just what you need. Pair a classic black or tan boxy bag with brighter, more interesting clothes, or choose a bright red bag with a classic trench coat or an all-black outfit, and you’re good to go.
2. Open (or zippered) tote
We are not going to lie—most boxy top-handle bags can get pretty heavy when they’re fully packed and ready to go, so a lightweight tote may seem like the obvious choice for many. Now, it seems like celebrities don’t mind carrying around open totes, while the rest of us are always nervous about not having a way to close our big bags. If you want a travel bag to go with your airport outfit, you can choose your LV Neverfull. Put it on over an athleisure outfit, your favorite sweatpants, or even a stylish maxi dress, and you’re ready to go.
We have already said that we don’t like backpacks in general, so we going to talk about them all at once. But even though we don’t think of them as “proper bags,” they might be one of the best kinds of bags for flying. And yes, you can get some that are stylish. If you have to carry something on your back, at least it will look good! For example, when the Burberry Rucksack was popular, it was easy to find at the airport. Still, a studded nylon backpack from Prada or a monogrammed Louis Vuitton Montsouris gives the backpack a more glamorous look than a traditional mule. Plus, an attractive backpack goes well with an athleisure look, so this one is for people who like track pants.
4. “Double Bag” Look
We get it, you have to carry a lot of things at once sometimes. Or, if you’re traveling light, a duffel bag in the cabin compartment may be all you need to carry your things (good for you!). But that doesn’t mean you should have to pull it out every time you want to use your headphones. How to fix it? Have a smaller purse that you can wear on your shoulder, across your body, or around your waist. This is perfect for storing smaller things like money, passports, and passes so you don’t have to carry as much stuff. And the best part is that a mini-bag might be the perfect way to make a statement with your airport outfit. Try an all-white outfit with a patent turquoise Bottega Veneta Jodie or channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw with a sequined Fendi Baguette! Even your carry-on bag doesn’t have to be dull. There are many options with logos and leather from Gucci, BV, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford, and other brands.
The paparazzi are responsible for a number of “looks” that have become part of popular culture. These include the “gym look” (it’s still a hot topic whether you should carry a Birkin there), the “red-carpet look,” the “beach look,” the “red-carpet-on-the-beach look” (at least, that’s what we imagine the Cannes Film Festival is), and a few others. But among all of these cool clickbait, the airport look is the best. But looking good at the airport isn’t just about looking good among a lot of random, sloppy-dressed people. It’s a mix of style and practicality that can teach us a lot about how to dress for everyday life. And in true style, your handbag will make you look better no matter where you are—at the airport, on a trip to the store, or on the red carpet.