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Dress Code

Upgrade Your Travel Wardrobe

Globetrotters from Mr Theo Hutchcraft to Mr Eric Underwood reveal their go-to travel outfits, and tips for a smooth journey

Travel often brings out the worst in our wardrobes. Next time you’re in an airport, take a moment at check-in to look around. What do you see? Holiday-goers in saggy sweats and neck supports, and pasty men dressed like Mr Hunter S Thompson. Hawaiian shirts and shorts may look great in St Barts. But in Luton? Not so much.

Weather is not the only obstacle to dressing well on the move. Imagine a train journey en route to a work appointment. The issue here? Crease management. Do you don your suit before you board and arrive in a crumpled mess, or change in the lavatory and risk losing a cufflink down the sink?

We asked five men with more air miles under their Italian belts than most to tell us how they travel in style. From a globe-trotting pop star to a creative CEO, they reveal what to wear, how to pack and share their insider travel tips (eg, never take a sleeping pill before the plane takes off – find out why from MR PORTER Contributing Style Director, Mr Dan May, below). Before you check in for your next flight, check out their advice.

THE COOL CUSTOMER

Mr Theo Hutchcraft
Lead singer of Hurts

We meet Yorkshire-born Mr Theo Hutchcraft two months after the release of Surrender, his band’s acclaimed third album. “It was the most fun we’ve ever had making [an album],” he says. “From LA to Switzerland to New York to Ibiza – the whole process was made up of travelling.” As he prepares for a February tour, we ask him how, as a globally recognised musician, he keeps things neat on the move.

Where was the best place you recorded your album?

Montreux in the Swiss Alps on Lake Geneva was insane. There’s a studio where Bowie and Queen did some recording. It was hard not to make music there.

Why did you choose this look?

Normally, I wear trousers that are smart versions of tracksuits. I find jeans so uncomfortable. A good coat is crucial. You can wear it to save space in your luggage, and when we arrive in, say, Eastern Europe, it’s always freezing. Also, we often have a lot of fans waiting for us, so you have to think about presentation.

How do you like to pack?

I’ve spent my life working out how little I can take to places, so I just have one bag. I’ve also got a Berluti cotton suit carrier, which weighs nothing and goes over my shoulder. I can put a jacket, trousers and shirt in it.

Any other tips?

I take a book rather than my computer, so I’m not able to do much work and I feel like I’m on holiday. I always sit near the front of the plane, by the aisle. There’s more leg room and you’re on and off straightaway. Oh, and don’t queue up to get on the plane. Sit down and chill.

THE PRACTICAL PASSENGER

Mr Dan May
Contributing Style Director, MR PORTER

With almost 20 years’ styling experience, Mr Dan May is more comfortable behind a camera than posing in front of one. “It’s weird,” he says about being photographed. “I know the positions that work, but I never look as good as the models.” Required to be on a plane “every other week” for his work (in the past three months, he has travelled to Toronto, San Francisco and New Orleans), Mr May dresses with practicality in mind.

Why did you choose this look?

I’m not one of these “fashion” people. I need to be comfortable for my job, because I’m lifting things, bending down and pinning and generally running around. When I’m getting on a plane, I prefer to wear tracksuit bottoms, so I don’t have to go to the loo to put on a sleeper suit. I can just rest for a couple of hours, put my shoes back on, slip on a jacket and I’m ready to go and work.

Does any particular piece stand out?

Wearing a travel blanket as a chunky scarf like this one by Armand Diradourian (cashmere, obviously) is a bit of a signature for me. It doubles up as a pillow.

Give us a travel tip.

Wait until you’ve taken off before you take a sleeping pill. Once, I took it too early, passed out, and had to be shaken awake because there was a problem with the plane. I was virtually in a coma.

How does one get bumped up to first class?

When I’m checking in, I always look at the staff to see who seems like they’re in a good mood. I’ll hang back and pick the person who’s smiling.

THE FLEXIBLE FLYER

Mr Eric Underwood
Royal Ballet soloist and model

Fresh from performing in a matinee of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House in London, Mr Eric Underwood, who was born in Washington DC, arrives on our shoot with an energy that belies the fact he has another performance afterwards. Mr Underwood’s work (“How did I get into ballet? I failed at an acting audition”) has recently taken him to St Petersburg, Italy and California.

Why did you pick this look?

I always need to be ready for that “hello” from the person I didn’t expect to see at the airport. I have to change clothes a lot in my line of work, so when I travel, I want to throw on something easy (but not old sweatpants). I love this shirt because it has a beautiful pattern, but it’s also flowy, so I feel comfortable. I could wear it to dinner, lunch or maybe an after-performance drink.

What essentials do you travel with?

A great pair of sneakers. A pair of wonderful dark jeans. You can throw them on with anything, and get going. And my phone charger. I become desperate when I don’t have my phone.

What’s the worst thing that has happened on a trip?

I went on a work trip to Mexico. I was performing on stage and my pants fell down to my ankles. I stood there in front of thousands of people with just a G-string on. It was a nightmare. I picked them up as elegantly as possible.

THE LONG-HAUL EXPERT

Mr Rich Stapleton
Creative director/co-founder of Cereal magazine

Mr Rich Stapleton launched his influential, travel-focused publication in December 2012 with his partner Ms Rosa Park. Based in Bath, he spends half his year in far-flung locations. “Every place we feature [in the magazine], myself and Rosa have been to,” he tells us before our shoot. “We just had a big bout of travelling. We went to Seattle and Vancouver, and then to Tokyo, Paris and Stockholm.”

Why does this outfit work for travelling?

On planes, they always blast the air conditioning. I usually wear a chunky knit and some thick cords or sweats, so I can get up and do a bit of stretching, like you see old Japanese ladies doing, in the aisles. I picked something very casual, comfortable and warm. In transit, you can relax and snuggle into your big thick cardigan. And when you can arrive at the hotel, you still look presentable.

What are your top three travel essentials?

I take a film camera, such as a Canon A-1, so I can document the trip. I always pack a scarf, even if I’m going to a tropical destination. If you ever feel like you’re getting a little bit run-down, it can do wonders. Third? A portable fragrance such as a Le Labo Santal 33 Travel Tube.

Do you have a trip that is particularly memorable?

We went to the Sahara desert in Morocco last July. We drove two days south from Marrakech to M’Hamid, then it took us about an hour and a half to get to the sand dunes we were shooting for the magazine. We were the only people as far as the eye could see. I’ll never forget that.

THE BUSINESS-CLASS TRAVELLER

Mr Gwyn Jones
Chairman of Quill Content

After working his way up from graduate trainee to group CEO, Mr Gwyn Jones left renowned global creative agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) in June 2015 to lead Quill, a content creator for businesses. A well-travelled creative professional, Mr Jones likes to combine smart clothes with casual and knows “the routines for making travel as painless as possible”, he says.

What travel tips can you give us?

Don’t wear your 18-hole Dr Martens to go through security – go with loafers and you’re in and out quickly. They always seem to drop the cabin temperature shortly after take-off, so take a sweater such as a John Smedley merino. If I’m travelling by train to, say, Paris for work, I dress as if it’s a commute. Never pack a jacket because they’ll hang it. You don’t want to wreck it.

Tell us about the outfit you chose today.

The creative industry was one of the first to casualise its workplace, so people wore chinos and a button-down. I was more comfortable in a suit. I can do very casual clothes, but not that “middle wardrobe”. So, when I’m getting on a plane, I wear jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket. You don’t want to sleep in a shirt. I guess I’m old school. I can’t handle sweatpants at the airport, but I will change into them for long-haul. The sizing on in-flight pyjamas is terrible.

Any other travel essentials?

I find my mind wanders, so I use a notepad to record my thoughts. And to avoid bed hair, I have one of Pankhurst London’s products in my bag for a quick fix.

What’s your favourite destination?

I love the energy in LA. The US used to be about what it imported from Europe into New York, but now it’s about tech and entertainment (the drivers of the modern economy) coming from the Far East to the west coast.