The Worst Things to Wear to an Airport, According to a TSA Agent

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We’re always in pursuit of further refining our ensembles for every destination, whether it’s an outfit for the airport or what to wear to the office. And while we’ve done enough traveling to have a general idea of what works and what doesn’t at the airport—those lace-up sandals were awesome until we held up an impatient line of people trying to take them off—we figured there’s still a thing or two we can learn from a true expert. Enter Kimberly Pruitt, a former TSA agent who spent more than five years working as a security officer at Los Angeles International Airport. We sat down with Pruitt to learn the surprising items that always seem to cause an issue when going through security. After you read Pruitt’s tips, we guarantee you’ll rethink your next airport look. After all, no one wants to be the one holding up the security line, right?

Scroll down to check out what not to wear to the airport to ensure your next traveling experience is that much smoother.

What Not to Wear: Maxi Dresses and Skirts

“If you are opposed to getting patted down, then wearing a maxi skirt or dress isn’t your best bet, because the officer will have to check you are not hiding anything under your skirt,” Pruitt tells us.

What to Wear Instead: Loose-Fitting Pants or Leggings

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What Not to Wear: Lots of Bobby Pins

“Believe it or not, too many bobby pins will set off the metal detector. If you’re looking to maintain your hair and skip the pat-down, I would suggest getting dolled up after screening,” says Pruitt.

What to Wear Instead: Simple Hair Ties or a Soft Headband

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What Not to Wear: Cargo Pants or Shorts

“Cargo pants and shorts are one of the most difficult items of clothing at the airport,” Pruitt advises. “All the different pockets become a major hassle because they almost always set off the alarm. When being told by an officer to remove everything from your pockets, there is always a lighter or set of keys that you’ve forgotten in a hidden pocket.”

What to Wear Instead: Pants or Shorts With Minimal Pockets

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What Not to Wear: Metal Bracelets and Necklaces

“Large metal bracelets and necklaces will set off the metal detector,” Pruitt says. “The biggest problem item is the Cartier Love bracelet. These bracelets can only be removed with a screwdriver, so they become an issue when going through security. It might be wise to put your jewelry on after screening to avoid a pat-down.”

What to Wear Instead: Jewelry… But Pack It Away and Put It on After Security

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This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Editor in Chief

Kat Collings has over 15 years of experience in the editorial fashion space, largely in digital publishing. She currently leads the vision for editorial content at WhoWhatWear.com as the site's editor in chief, having risen through the editorial ranks after joining the company in 2012. In her role, she primarily works on leading content strategy and also contributes trend direction for Who What Wear's design collaborations. Collings is a Digiday Future Leader Awards nominee, was named Buzzfeed's best fashion Instagram accounts of the year, and is a member of the CFDA Awards Fashion Guild. She has worked with luxury brands such as Moda Operandi, Cartier, and Net-a-Porter, and her personal style has been featured in many publications including NY Times Fashion & Style, Vogue.com, and InStyle. Prior to Who What Wear, Collings did assistant styling work for brands such as Vogue, Teen Vogue, Lucky, and Oliver Peoples, as well as freelance fashion writing. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in communications and calls Los Angeles home.