Flying to work, arriving in style
Cotton may be the best fabric for the Indian weather (it lets you breathe), but if you’re going to be out for a long day of meetings, choose shirts with a slight polymix so they stay crisp
At 5am on weekdays, you’ll find two types of travellers at the airport—those who look like they have just rolled out of bed to get on the flight and those who seem ready to step into a boardroom. How do the latter manage to look spiffy that early in the morning? We spoke to frequent flyers to get the answers.
Fabric is key
This should be a cardinal rule in every business traveller’s book—there is nothing worse than arriving in a creased suit. Choose the fabric of your suits and shirts carefully. Cotton may be the best fabric for the Indian weather (it lets you breathe), but if you’re going to be out for a long day of meetings, choose shirts with a slight polymix so they stay crisp. “Most good brands now have a travel jacket—it’s crease-free and non-lined. It’s light, falls well and can literally be rolled into a ball and opened without creasing. Invest in it,” says men’s style blogger Riaan J. George, who runs the menswear, luxury travel and food blog Urban Eye. “If I have an unplanned stay for the night and my suit gets creased, I run hot water in the bath tub and leave the suit in the bathroom to sweat it out. It’s as good as pressed when I need to wear it next,” suggests Ajay Awtaney, a banker and the editor of Livefromalounge.com, a blog on the good, bad and ugly of travel.
Shoes are important
Formal leather shoes can often be constricting and uncomfortable. Always wear comfortable shoes because you will need to walk a lot at airports. Lace-up oxfords or brogues that have been broken in should be your go-to. “Carry an extra pair of slip-on shoes like moccasins or loafers if you’re on a two- or three-day trip. These are semi-formal and work well for those after-meeting dinners,” says Mumbai-based image consultant and stylist Aparna Wadhiwa, adding, “Also, carry a small shoeshine—there’s nothing as shabby as dirty shoes.”
Don’t forget the accessories
Travelling light is key, which is why it’s important that you should focus on the accessories. Carry just one suit, but pack more shirts and ties that match the same suit, shoes and belt. You’ll save space and won’t have to waste time figuring out options. “I match up two ties with my suit, put one on and keep the second in the bag I’m carrying. It helps when you have to stay another day and you didn’t plan for it. I just get my shirt laundered at the hotel, put on the other tie, and it is a different combination,” says Awtaney.
Other accessories like pocket squares, a pen from a reputed brand, silver cufflinks, a formal reversible belt and a silver tiepin can all add the right finishing touches without being bulky to carry. “The night before my morning flight, I put all the accompanying accessories—tie, socks, pocket square, cufflinks, etc. in the pocket of my suit jacket or blazer. That way there’s little chance of me forgetting something early morning while getting dressed,” says George.
Choose your luggage carefully
An item that can make or mar your look but doesn’t get much attention is your luggage. “I find a lot of people carrying backpacks. But they crush the shoulders on the suit. Carry a good briefcase or laptop bag since this can add to your image when you arrive,” says Awtaney. Besides, backpacks have a tendency to look frumpy. Also, invest in a cabin bag that’s sturdy, stylish and spacious, in colours like black, brown or tan. “Avoid fancy baggage tags and travel accessories that look too touristy. Also, please remove the luggage and fragile tags on the bag if you had checked it in. These take away from the sleekness of the bag,” says Wadhiwa.