The term “airport look” is one of the many things that the paparazzi made up after years of following celebrities, convincing us of its existence along the way. I mean, who wouldn’t want to throw on a maxi dress, bundle up with a neck pillow (and possibly a blanket) and dump all our belongings in a tote?
But, sometime during the 90s – long before you could creepily stalk pictures of Cindy Crawford cooking turkey on Instagram – when there was a need to fill the pages of actual tabloid magazines with celebrities doing, well, stuff, the airport became a gold-mine of sorts for photographers. In fact, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reportedly became their permanent breeding ground – photog Ron Galella gained considerable fame (and notoriety among celebs) that way! And soon, our favorite A-listers had to permanently abandon sloppy and comfortable (and possibly slightly stinky) sweatpants in favor of actual stylized outfits.
Amanda here sums it up pretty neatly, “Air travel is an unglamorous activity that requires careful accessories planning and maximum functionality, but the best inspiration for solutions comes from an unlikely spot: celebrities.”
However, the celeb set is, by no means, small or uniform, for that matter. Each one has their own style – Harry Styles, for example, styles stylish pink velvet pants with a black cardigan (yes, that’s 4 “styles” in a sentence!), while Bella Hadid opts for a metallic silver fur coat. Thanks to this diversity, there’s now a whole list of wardrobe “must-haves” (or rather, multiple lists depending on whom you’re asking), specifically dedicated to what to wear for air travel.
Athleisure remains a popular option because it essentially lets you nap comfortably, but that’s pretty much the only thing the big names of the fashion crowd can agree upon for that perfect airport look. White sneakers? Some will start doubting your fashion sense if you aren’t already wearing them everywhere, ever. Others take a more practical approach – landing at Heathrow and possibly getting your Air Jordan 1 ’07s sploshed in muddy rainwater isn’t standard procedure, for example.
Then again, some would recommend that you layer up (regardless of which climate you’re traveling to). In contrast, others might recommend that light and airy attire be the best course of action for tackling tedious security lines and minimal legroom.
So, what do you actually end up opting for? Well, the last time I was at the airport (more than 3 years ago now), I was in pajamas (true story – I know, I’m mortified), so I’m probably not the person you should be listening to for outfit advice. But, before you run away, I can say with some certainty that if there’s one thing that makes your airport ensemble look up to snuff, it’s – you guessed it – a cool bag. In fact, the airport is likely the one place (with the probable exception of a school) where everybody would have some form of a purse, and now that I think about it, I should probably lurk there (in the airport, not a school) more often just to be able to ogle at the bags. But I’m digressing.
I am personally of the strong belief that a strategically placed purse, even on a mediocre outfit, instantly elevates your entire look. Especially in the airport, amidst a sea of boring black coats (or in my country, some variation of a fake logo t-shirt), this is something that’s bound to get you more than a few compliments. However, don’t engage in extensive “designer duffle” research just yet – your airport purse doesn’t always have to be a carry-on. Frankly, I’m not too big of a fan of the duffle/duffle-style purses for your airport look. Although Bella Hadid does rock the Givenchy Lucrezia with a lot of gusto. However, if your handbag is the equivalent of a spacious black hole, without any reasonably sized exterior pocket where you can store the essentials like your phone, headphones, passport, and boarding passes, it likely isn’t the most ideal option. Plus, duffles can get heavy, too – imagine having to lug that around in the event of a delay or a layover (*shivers*).
So then, which bags should you carry to the airport? Fear not, here I’m rounding up some of the best types of purses that are chic and functional – a winning combination for acing airport style!
The Boxy Carryall
The Birkin was a bag designed mid-flight, specifically for air travel – could you get more airport-appropriate than that? Probably not. Preferred by every Kardashian and Jenner ever, and by the likes of Eva Longoria, this luxe carryall, with its features of carrying with the flap tucked in like an open tote, or with the flaps shut and padlock in place – is secure from prying hands. But even besides this ultra-expensive option, there is the Gigi Hadid-endorsed Versace Palazzo Empire, a classic and understated Ralph Lauren Ricky, or the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour (bless its heart) – a favorite of both Miranda Kerr and Kim Jaejoong – with an organized, three-compartment interior, you can keep all your easily-reachable belongings in the open pockets and zip the more important ones in the center pouch. If you’d like a fully zipped one, a Céline Mini (or Micro) Luggage might just be ideal for you. Style a classic black or tan boxy bag with more exciting, vibrant clothes, or opt for a vibrant red with a classic trench or an all-black look, and you’re good to go!
The Open (or Zipped) Tote
I’m not going to lie; most boxy top-handles can get pretty heavy by the time they’re fully packed and ready to travel, so a lightweight tote may seem like a no-brainer for many. Now, celebs seem to have no worries carrying an open tote, even though we mortals are always paranoid about having some form of closing mechanism on our spacious totes. To be very honest, though, do we really use the zipper? I seriously doubt it, and most designer totes except the Goyard St. Louis and Lucy Hale’s lust-worthy Givenchy Rottweiler Antigona have some form of security, like magnets or drawstrings, which go a long way. However, when opting for a travel tote to accompany your airport look, switch up your ubiquitous everyday Neverfull for a bold statement piece like the Christian Louboutin Cabata, which comes in an array of bright colors Louboutin-red and leopard prints, to name a few. Style it over an athleisure outfit, your favorite sweatpants, or even a stylish maxi dress, and you’re all set to jet-set!
I’ve expressed my general distaste towards backpacks previously, so I’m lumping them all under one umbrella here. But despite my unwillingness to consider them as “proper bags,” they are perhaps one of the most suitable bags for air travel. And yes, there are certain stylish ones that you can get yourself – if you’re going to carry a load on your back, at least it’ll be a chic one! For example, the airport was a great place to spot the Burberry Rucksack in its heyday. Still, Prada’s studded nylon version, or a monogrammed Louis Vuitton Montsouris, all elevate the traditional mule-ishness of the backpack to a glamorous appeal. Plus, an attractive backpack is consistent with the theme of an athleisure look too, so track-pant-lovers, this one’s for you.
The “Double Bag” Look
We get it, sometimes you just need to carry a lot of things at once. Or maybe you’re traveling light – a duffle in the cabin compartment may be enough to carry all your belongings (kudos to you!). That doesn’t mean that you should have to be dragging it out every time you need to reach for your headphones. The solution? Have a smaller purse – on the shoulder, crossbody, or around your waist – perfect for storing the smaller paraphernalia like currencies, passports, and passes without being weighed down by the miscellany of carryons. And the best part is that a mini-bag may be the perfect statement-maker with your airport look – maybe opt for an all-white ensemble and have a patent turquoise Bottega Veneta Jodie, or channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw and sport a sequined Fendi Baguette! Even your carry-on needn’t be boring. There are plenty of logo-y, leather-y, options from Gucci, BV, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford, and more!
The paparazzi can be credited with the creation of various “looks” that have entered pop-culture jargon: the “gym look” (whether you should carry a Birkin there continues to be a matter of hot-debate), the “red-carpet look,” the “beach look,” the “red-carpet-on-the-beach look” (or at least, that’s what I privately imagine the Cannes Film Festival is) and a few others. But amongst all these cool clickbaits, one of them reigns supreme – the airport look. But nailing the airport look isn’t just about looking good amongst many stray, sloppily dressed people – it’s a marriage of functionality and style that can give us some genuine pointers on dressing for everyday life. And in the true PurseBlog-spirit, your handbag is bound to spruce up your look regardless of where you are – at the airport, on a grocery run, or the red carpet!