I Flew First Class From Rome to NYC—6 Outfit Mistakes I Avoided to Look Polished


(Image credit: @anna__laplaca)

Last month, when I pulled up to Rome's Fiumicino airport, it wasn't in an outfit I'd normally wear to board a 10-hour flight. In fact, you'd probably guess I was heading to the office or a lunch meeting if it weren't for the roller suitcase I had in tow. But when I had the opportunity to travel in business class for a work trip I was taking to Europe, I jumped at the opportunity to update my typical travel uniform for one that would help me dress the part of a frequent business-class flyer.

I wore the trousers that I wear to the office most days, the ballet flats I'd worn out to dinner the night before, and the designer handbag that's usually already packed deep in my luggage. In other words, it was a far cry from the athleisure staples I usually opt for. But without sacrificing comfort, I made a few key tweaks that looked far more put-together but ultimately still felt just as relaxed as if I were wearing sweats. It should go without saying, but I'm by no means telling you what you should do or wear when traveling. Instead, I'm simply filling you in on the styling choices I personally made to look and feel my best. 

Here, I'm sharing the six outfit swaps I made for an ultra-polished airport ensemble. So no matter what your seating assignment is like, read on for my business class travel outfit tips that will have you looking your best for the next time you head to the airport.

Avoided Wearing: Leggings as Pants

Wore Instead: Relaxed Jeans and Trousers

First things first, I knew I had to ditch my leggings. Don't get me wrong, I still wear them on most short domestic flights, but in order to dress the part for business class, they were the first things I skipped. Instead, I wore a pair of ultra-relaxed trousers that were so roomy they were equally are as comfortable as any leggings or sweatpants. On my outbound flight, I wore a pair of relaxed jeans that were a tad more casual than the trousers but still helped me feel pulled together.

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Avoided Wearing: Athletic Sneakers

Wore Instead: Ballet Flats and Loafers

A pair of cool flats like ballet flats or loafers is a solid option instead of sneakers, and what's more is that they're easier to slip on and off to get through security and during the flight when you want to get even comfier.

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Avoided Wearing: Only a Big Tote Bag

Wore Instead: Also a Handbag

For most business and first class tickets, you're allowed more carry-on bags than you are for economy. So instead of stuffing all my essentials into one personal item, I kept wearing my Bottega Veneta Andiamo Bag as a small personal item, but also carried a tote for my laptop plus my roller suitcase. Carrying a third bag that only held small items like my phone and passport felt like such a luxury of convenience since I usually find myself digging through a large tote when I get to security, but ultimately I thought the addition of a chic bag helped my outfit look more polished and considered. I even noticed that I wasn't the only woman who did so. Others boarding in business class also carried their smaller luxury handbags in addition to any larger totes.

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Avoided Wearing: Oversize Sweatshirts

Wore Instead: Elevated Sweater

Hoodies and sweatshirts are fine and all, but a cashmere or wool-blend sweater is usually just as comfortable but for me, it made a world of difference in my overall look. I wore the Francis Sweater by Éterne and now it's a fixture in ever suitcase I pack.

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Avoided: Skipping Jewelry

Wore Instead: Everyday Jewelry

Jewelry is the last thing I put on in the morning, so when I'm heading to the airport (and more than likely in a rush), I usually forget to put any on. I made a point of wearing all my everyday jewelry staples for this flight including a tennis necklace, small hoop earrings, and thin stacking rings (while also skipping anything too chunky or uncomfortable). I think it helped add a finishing touch to pull things together.

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Avoided: Puffer Jacket

Wore Instead: Trench Coat or Tailored Coat

Layers are key for any transcontinental flight, so I opted for a trench coat as a light layer atop my sweater. Now that it's getting to be winter, though, I'd wear a tailored wool coat for something thicker to lend some structure to my overall silhouette. 

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Senior Editor

Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.