Why we are all obsessed with celebrity airport style

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Billie Bhatia
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models showcasing airport style

Travel doesn’t always conjure up the most glamourous of images: Gatwick delays and overcrowded planes. But one thing we can never get enough of is what the A-listers wear for their #airportstyle 

When I type into Google ‘airport style’ I am hit with a slew of images that depict models and celebrities in a combination of the following: leggings (slick to their lithe, seemingly endless legs), jeans, ankle boots, blindingly white trainers, cashmere separates, enormous sunglasses and luxe-looking luggage. (Google also tells me how to replicate this style, a round-up of the best style, boards of inspiration as to how to emulate this style and where to buy my ‘airport style’).

Despite what your Instagram might be telling you, airport style is not a new idea. For years paparazzi have camped out at LAX and JFK to get a glimpse of Hollywood stars stepping off private jets or casually strolling with coffee-in-hand through arrivals. With these ‘candid’ moments of celebrities in their own clothes, striding into the sunlight after a long-haul flight peppering the pages of glossy magazines and newspapers alike. 

Gigi Hadid

When I travel there are three inevitabilities I can always count on: my suitcase will be at least 1kg over the weight limit, my contact lenses will dry out and I will be wearing an outfit that centres around an elasticated waistband. My clothes might appear like an accidental athleisure mishap, but they are not. My look is, in fact, totally considered. Relaxed enough to give the illusion that I am a seasoned traveller, glamorous enough to prove I do actually care about my appearance and with one stand-out accessory to let everyone else know I am here for #airportstyle. 

So, why are we so obsessed with what everyone is wearing to travel in? It’s a combined fascination of what they are wearing, where they have come from, where they are going, what part of their look can I reimagine as my own? It’s a heavy mix of aspirational and achievable. 

Alessandra Ambrosio

The idea that travel has changed dramatically over the past 30 years with the rise of budget airlines, last-minute low-cost flights and all-inclusive deals; from its original notion as a glamorous pastime reserved only for the very wealthy. In the Fifties and Sixties the wealthy would inevitably travel in their ‘best’ - dresses, heels, hats (sometimes even gloves). 

Now, the idea remains the same but the outfits have changed: monogrammed luggage, exclusive designer bags and trainers so scarce they are more expensive than diamonds have overtaken the preened glamour of travel.

Social media can be given a big pat on the back for this. Instagram’s platform for letting us into every nook and cranny of someone’s life has created an insatiable need to know what celebrities are doing at ALL times. And as travel comes as part of their status, we want to know how it works for them, and in turn, how we can make it work for us. 

Marilyn Monroe

Travel may be more accessible to the masses but the idea of frequent travel to the world’s most luxurious places is still aspirational. You just need to take a glance at a Jenner/Hadid who is regularly ‘gramming their Off-White x Nike trainers (idly resting on their bespoke Louis Vuitton luggage) to see the desire for a peek into the life of luxury is still rife. We might not have the luggage or the trainers - but we can find stand-ins. And the pose? We can absolutely recreate. Just check out the 134,134 #airportstyle posts for confirmation.

Even in the Stylist office, which plays host to a bunch of travel lovers, we still indulge in some celebrity airport fashion. Digital writer Megan Murray shares her insight:

“Seeing a sneak peek of celebrities breezing out of an airport, no doubt back from somewhere fabulous, feels like a delicious slice of their real life. Everyone knows that travelling can be uncomfortable, even, dare I say, on a private jet. So, getting a glimpse of what an A-lister is wearing to travel in usually gives you a more relaxed, and therefore potentially achievable, version of their style. 

“Whether it’s a classic jean and oversized T-shirt combo, a chic sportswear ensemble or perhaps a slouchy dress and trainers, I love seeing that ‘off-duty model’ type style in action. How do they manage to pull chic and casual together so well? Of course, what they’re wearing may slightly out of my price range, but I’ve got a much better chance of recreating a look like this, than one they wore on the red carpet.”


Whether you are looking for an elusive upgrade, want tips on how to be more stylish when travelling or just inquisitive as to how the rich and famous live, airport style will forever be a fascination. 

Images: Getty