When the Duchess of Cambridge left Heathrow airport last month on her royal tour of Canada and the US clad in a chic navy Roland Mouret dress and Smythe blazer, there was something almost retro about her polished travel look. These days, unless you’re Lady Gaga or Victoria Beckham, even first-class dressing is more about ease than overt glamour.
A new generation of layerable luxury travel wear collections are offering low-key comfort without compromising on style. Ruth Chapman, co-chief executive at Matches, thinks that there’s no need to go overboard to look good. “The look is effortless elegance,” she says.
Enter the new “Travel Babe” set by Lounge Lover, a sleek grey ensemble that includes a cashmere-blend tank dress, loose-fit pants, eye mask and wrap cardigan complete with carry bag (Net-a-Porter, £295). “We wanted to create something you could sit in for a long time on the plane, but look appropriate in at arrivals,” says designer Sylvie Gabriel.
N Peal Cashmere has also created a capsule range of layering knits for the Outnet this summer, with the first-class lounge in its sights. It includes wraps, cardigans and scarves. “They’re nearly selling out,” says Stephanie Phair, director at the online retailer. “Cashmere is great for travelling because it layers easily and it’s breathable.”
London-based leisure wear label Hush has also become a staple among holidaymakers for its silk “Woodstock” tops, harem pants and lightweight jersey blazers.
With the growth of stylish sportswear and “loungewear” there’s now a crossover of clothes that can be worn for resort daywear, yoga or flying, such as the Earth Couture range by Interior design guru Kelly Hoppen. The range (from £59) includes vests, wide-leg stretchy trousers, cropped leggings and T-shirts in muted tones. Made from organic cotton, it has been worn by Cheryl Cole, Madonna and Oprah Winfrey since launching three seasons ago at Harrods, and proceeds from each piece sold go towards buying mosquito coils for children in Africa. “I wanted to create something multifunctional to wear on holiday and the plane instead of first-class pyjamas,” says Hoppen.
Chapman believes “fashion pieces” can work well for flying. “Isabel Marant is great,” she says. “A floaty tunic worn with a blazer over pants looks good. J Brand jeans have a bit of stretch, so they retain their shape. We’re also seeing people embrace designer sneakers by Balenciaga and Prada.”
“It’s worth making the effort,” adds Phair. “You never know who you might meet.”