This article was produced in partnership with Cole Haan.
With airlines cutting costs at every turn and record crowds funneling through the world’s airports, it might seem like the halcyon days of glamorous travel will never make a comeback. But that doesn’t mean mens’ style should also become a victim of today’s air travel woes.
“It’s tempting to just throw on your coziest clothes, but we all can put a little more effort into crafting an elevated jet-set look that doesn’t forgo the comfort of sweats,” mens’ fashion stylist Seppe Tirabassi tells Men’s Journal. “The return of travel is something worth celebrating. Don’t spoil it for yourself by looking sloppy.”
While the jury is still out on whether dressing to the nines might win you a surprise flight upgrade, it certainly won’t hurt your chances. And if there’s one shoe worthy of a first-class ticket, it’s Cole Haan’s 4.ZERØGRAND Stitchlite™ Oxford.
Cole Haan seamlessly marries innovative material craftsmanship and striking design with the 4.ZERØGRAND Oxford. Constructed in a breathable Stitchlite™ knit, the uppers will ensure that your feet stay cool and comfortable throughout your journey. When it’s time to tackle the airport security line, sliding your shoes off and on will be a breeze thanks to the slight stretch factor of the fabric. (Just make sure you’re wearing Cole Haan ZERØGRAND Performance Crew Socks so you don’t have to waltz through barefoot.)
Be prepared: Fellow travelers will be ogling your Oxfords—blame it on the handsome wingtip embellishment on the uppers, something you’d typically find on a dapper dress shoe. But they’re more than just an attractive pair of kicks; they’re comfy and ideal for traveling, too. When travel days keep you on your feet for extended periods, you’ll appreciate the shoes’ layers of proprietary cushioning compounds. They softly pad each step, whether you’re loafing around the terminal or sprinting to the gate just before the boarding door closes. In addition, the Oxfords’ lightweight construction makes them easy to pack: They won’t weigh down your suitcase on the return trip home (though we think they deserve to get shown off at the airport).
The 4.ZERØGRAND Oxford comes in four colorways, but for traveling, Tirabassi likes the Glacier Gray color, which serves as the foundation for this low-profile monochromatic look.
“Each piece is more or less a gray tone, but the bright yellow sole adds a fun pop of color that will catch peoples’ eye,” says the stylist, who travels frequently for photoshoots.
As for the rest of the look, Tirabassi points to one material that essentially defines sophisticated comfort: cashmere.
“There’s nothing like the sensation of slipping on a jogger made from one-hundred percent cashmere,” he says.
He recommends the brand Naked Cashmere for its solid selection of high-quality yet surprisingly affordable cashmere garments.
“Skip the shapeless cotton sweats and go for Naked Cashmere’s matching set of monochromatic zip-up hoodies and joggers,” Tirabassi says. “These pieces are breathable and lightweight, but will keep you nice and warm on a drafty red-eye. Plus, they won’t wrinkle, so you’ll touch down at your destination looking like a million bucks.”
Underneath, a plain white cotton T-shirt, like Mott & Bow’s Classic Crew Driggs, is all you need.
When traveling, it’s vital to master the art of layering. Whether you’re escaping your chilly hometown for a beach getaway or heading out on a ski trip, the last thing you want to do is lug around a bulky coat through the airport.
“Not only can it get pretty cold on a flight, but even in the height of summer, you may find yourself needing an extra layer when the A.C. is blasting indoors,” Tirabassi says. “Keeping with the monochromatic gray palette, this quilted down vest from Brunello Cucinelli is a smart layer because it can be rolled up into a backpack or suitcase when you’re not wearing it.”
He also notes that while Brunello falls on the higher end of the price spectrum, you can find similar lightweight puffer vests in nearly any budget.
Complete the look with a plain gray cap—Loro Piana’s super-soft Ty Baseball Cap sticks with the cashmere theme—for an extra dash of anonymity or to cover up unkempt hair. You can also pull the brim over your eye to catch a snooze mid-flight.
Last, but certainly not least, every traveler needs a durable, TSA-approved backpack to keep all their essentials within easy reach. Cole Haan’s water-resistant ZERØGRAND Slim Convertible Backpack was designed with ergonomic backpack straps to rest lightly on the shoulders, and it comes with a trolley pass strap to slide over the handle of your carry-on luggage. Multiple interior compartments make it easy to organize important documents, electronics, and other gear.
“Like the Cole Haan Oxfords, this is a fun, functional accent piece that will add a bit of personality to your monochromatic look,” says Tirabassi. “Ironically, this bold camo print is going to make you stand out from the crowd.”[Cole Haan 4.ZERØGRAND Stitchlite™ Oxford: $210; colehaan.com]
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