Why This Fashion Designer Thinks You Should Only Fly in White T-shirts
When it comes to travel, there’s one thing nobody can seem to agree on: what to wear on the airplane. For some, it’s important to dress nice, evoking the Golden Age of air travel, when the place to see and be seen was aboard a jet. For others, flying is a time to relax and recharge; it’s a time to binge those movies you’ve blown off for months or wrap up in a blanket with the novel you haven’t yet finished.
Either way, deciding what to wear is tricky. And as planes become more efficient and more advanced, flying time continues to grow longer and longer — Singapore Airlines just reclaimed that title of world’s longest flight with a 19-hour direct flight from Newark to Singapore — meaning that it’s more important than ever to dress comfortably for a flight. But dressing for comfort doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style.
Enter ATM, a lifestyle brand that’s every bit as sleek and refined as it is comfortable and utilitarian. Founded by Anthony Thomas Melillo, the former style director of Esquire, ATM creates high-end, high-quality basics — some might say the perfect T-shirt — that are extremely well suited for any type of flight. Even better, Melillo is acutely aware of how and where his products are made, telling Vogue he visits Peru “four times a year to review production and meet with everyone” to ensure the quality of both the clothes he makes and the people who are making them.
Travel + Leisure sat down with Melillo to discuss what exactly makes the perfect travel outfit for a long-haul flight, plus other travel tips from a fashion insider who’s seriously in the know.
Travel + Leisure: What is your perfect travel outfit?
“My typical uniform is a white T-shirt, which probably sounds dangerous anywhere because white is susceptible to stains, but I’m still cozy in my white slub T-shirts. That’s what I usually wear. We have long-sleeve, destroyed wash which tend to look great, but not so fancy. I don’t want it tucked in because it has a destroyed hem. Even if I’m flying to Florida I wear the long sleeves versions because it keeps my arms warm.”
Why just a white T-shirt?
“I just think the white T-shirt makes things look clean, and when you get off the plane you don’t feel like you’re gross. I tend to think it looks fresh on or off the plane, so that’s why i stick with my white T-shirts. And would stick with that if I was a guy or a girl.”
Is there anything you wouldn’t recommend wearing for a flight?
“I never wear jeans. That’s the one thing I surely wouldn’t travel in. I find them really super uncomfortable and I don’t wear a lot of denim.”
If not jeans, what bottoms should people wear to stay comfortable traveling?
“Sweats are slimmer. [Chinos] definitely look more like something that’s dressier than wearing sweatpants. We do this Chino — we call it our fabric code — it’s more of a washed look. It definitely has a feeling of relaxed and not so precious, but it also doesn’t wrinkle. It’s got a little bit of spandex in it, which keeps the hold in it to stretch and move and you don’t feel uncomfortable. And you don’t really want to wear a belt with it.”
Are there any other clothing items you recommend to stay comfortable?
“One of the sort of key things that I wear? Cozy socks, for sure, which is more than just men’s dress socks. I buy different socks all over the place, but cozy socks. Sneakers for sure. If I’m going on a long flight I tend to like a cashmere scarf. I just like it warm around my neck.”
Speaking of staying warm, do you have tips for people who might be traveling between different climates, which always makes packing and dressing more difficult?
“The fewer pieces the better. That’s why I don’t like layering that much. I’ll bring a big overcoat and I’ll wear a scarf, but I know a scarf can be thrown into my briefcase and overcoat I’ll leave in the car. And then I’m dressed in an outfit that’s maybe appropriate in LA and for winter in New York. Or from winter in New York you go to Miami, I’m done. I take the jacket off because you’ve got a T-shirt on and you’ve got chinos. You just can kind of transition easily. Yoga tights and white T-shirts look great when you arrive in LA just as well as it does when you’re in New York.”
What travel essentials can you not leave home without?
“Eve Lom face soap. It comes in a 3.3 ounce, so I can travel with it. I use the Aesop shaving cream and they come in travel size so that’s always in my bag. The other thing is Marvis Toothpaste, it tastes really good and they also have travel size. I know those three things no matter what are pretty good.”
Any other tips from someone who is clearly a seasoned traveler?
“I use this thing called Clear, which is really helpful at times at airports. It’s a service that you don’t have to take off your shoes, but gets you past the TSA.”
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.