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What to Wear (Or Not to Wear) When Going Through Airport Security

What to Wear for Airport Security
Written by Gabby Teaman

This blog post was updated on August 17, 2021.

Like many travelers, you may know the basics of getting through security, such as limiting the liquids you bring with you to a certain size, taking off your shoes while you’re waiting in line, and making sure you remove your laptop and phone from your bag. But, choosing what to wear for airport security (and what to avoid) can be tricky. Save yourself the hassle and read up on which items from your closet you should bring with you, and which you should leave at home.

Wear the Right Shoes

What to Wear for Airport Security for Shoes

Laced-up shoes can look great, but it won’t be worth it when you have to spend way too much time untying and then retying your shoes, holding up the line, and making you and your travel partners anxious. By all means, bring those gladiator shoes with you in your suitcase, but when at the airport, opt for some sneakers instead. If you’re looking to dress up a bit more, wear regular heels or comfortable wedges. Also, even if you’re making a beeline to the pool as soon as you get off your cheap last minute flights, for the love of all that is good, please do not wear flip-flops while going through security. You don’t want to stand there barefoot on the airport floor, and your fellow passengers will thank you.

Limit Your Jewelry

What to Wear for Airport Security With Jewelry

You might want to think about leaving those metal earrings or bracelets at home. The last thing you want to do is set off the metal detectors and hold up the line, or worse, miss your flight! Going through the metal detector can be tricky because it can be set off by many things from body piercings to the fasteners on your clothing to your keys. So it’s best to avoid most costumer or metal jewelry when going through security. Also, if you’re comfortable traveling with jewelry that has silver, gold, or made of other precious metals, bring those with you instead. Although, the good news is, most wedding rings won’t set off that dreaded alarm. If you have piercings or anything metal you can’t remove, you can always request a private screening.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to double-check your pockets before you leave for the airport in case something metal made its way in there somehow. Items like cargo pants can have a lot of metal and multiple pockets, so maybe pack those up instead. You’ll also need to remove your belt, so make sure you have pants that fit you properly without one. In terms of hair accessories, even metal bobby pins can sound the alarm, so opt for a cute headband instead.

Related: TSA Approved: 5 Items That Can Make Going Through Airport Security Easier

Bundle Up, But Not Too Much

What to Wear for Airport Security in Winter

If you’re wondering what to wear for airport security when it’s cold, it can take some finessing. We get it, airports (and airplanes, for that matter) can get quite chilly. If you need a heavy winter jacket for wherever you’re going, you should obviously bring it, especially if you want to save space in your luggage by having it on you during your flight. But, it’s good to keep in mind that you’ll need to remove it when you go through security. So you should definitely dress in layers and make sure you bring proper clothing to wear under, whether you’re sporting a heavy parka or just a light sweatshirt. Also, weather-permitting, it’s better to shop for something more lightweight and easier to take off like a trench coat or zip-up.

Leave Your Baggy Sweater Behind

What to Wear for Airport Security Without Baggy Clothing

While you’re allowed to wear loose-fitting clothing, keep in mind that this may prompt security to double-check you if they think you might be concealing something. Therefore, it’s not recommended to wear huge, baggy sweatshirts, pants, or even ultra-flowy skirts. We know these items are usually the comfiest, especially if you’re trying to sneak a nap in on a red eye flight. But you can still dress comfy without wearing the baggier things in your closet. And, no, your airport attire does not need to be skintight to be passable. Just go for outfits with layers that fit properly and are also comfy, of course.

Keep It Classy

In addition to being kicked off your flight, clothes with inappropriate or offensive messaging can get you stopped in security, and we don’t want either of those things, obviously. A good litmus test of whether you should wear that raunchy new T-shirt you just got is if you wouldn’t wear it to a restaurant or around your family, leave it at home. Anything profane, politically offensive, or with violent themes should not be worn at the airport or on your flight. When in doubt, keep it family-friendly.

Don’t Bring Too Many Bags

What to Wear for Airport Security for Bags

While you may feel the urge to lug around all your handbags, things can get literally messy if you forget to throw out or pack any liquids over the TSA’s limit. You don’t want your bag to be spilling all over the place if you stuff too much inside it. Bring a bag with a simple zipper or opening and your life will be made that much easier. You’re likely going to have at least one big suitcase with you as well as a carry-on, so when choosing a handbag for your smaller items, it’s best to take along something like a large tote bag. This will complete your look but also give you more room for the essentials (think laptop, iPhone, chargers, lip gloss, etc.) You can strut through security with style but invest in something practical that will ensure your trip goes smoothly.

So, did we leave anything out? Tell us what else not to wear for airport security below!

About the author

Gabby Teaman

Gabby Teaman is a content writer who loves writing (of course!), editing, food, and the Oxford comma. When she’s not writing for Fareportal, she can be found Snapchatting videos of her puppy, blasting show tunes, or watching Netflix, all while trying to read everything in sight.

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