I admire people who wear sweatpants and hoodies on flights. They just don’t care what those around them think of their style — they just want to be comfortable for the 10-hour ride ahead.
I am not one of those people. I care. I always wash and blow-dry my hair before getting into an airplane and I select my clothes carefully so I look semi-decent for the flight and the inevitable post-airport trek to my final destination. Sometimes, that means sacrificing comfort for elegance. Yes, that makes me vain. I’m okay with that.
To add a layer of complication to the already-ridiculous ritual of finding flying clothes that don’t make me look and feel like ground pork squeezed in a sausage casing, I tend to sweat a lot. I’m not dripping with the stuff on a regular day, but I’m a very nervous flyer and, as soon as I step into an airplane, I’m boiling.
A few years back, in an attempt to not be the worst seat neighbor in the history of flying, I tried Knix’s Don’t Sweat It shirt (currently unavailable on their website) on a three-hour flight to L.A and a 11-hour transatlantic trip. While it did the job, it was far from the ideal garment. I chose the white version of the shirt in size M (my regular size) and I felt like I was wearing some sort of medical garment. The shirt felt thick, and too tight, with very visible seams along the side, front, and back to accommodate the reinforced “moisture-wicking, odor-fighting fabric” around the armpits. In short, Knix’s sweat-absorbing shirt was ugly and the only way I’d be wearing it in public was hidden under another top.
This summer, knowing a multi-connection, double-digit flight to Europe was in the books for fall, I searched the internet for another sweat-proof shirt that I could wear on my trip. Numi’s sweat-absorbing shirts stood out from the rest immediately. While they call them “undershirts”, Numi’s products look like any other cute top on the market and can be worn as such. The extra padded area around the underarms is barely visible and there are no chunky seams. There are also a range of cuts and colors to choose from, with crop tops, boat necks, and body suits available for every body type and skin color.
I picked a size M in two different styles and shades: a black Lace and a caramel Signature, both of which fit perfectly and look sophisticated. Because I am a busty gal with a couple of chocolate-related rolls around the midriff ( I am 5’4, 140 lbs, 32 D), I think I could have gone for size L, too. Numi’s sweat-absorbing shirts are skin-tight to absorb the moisture, but if you’re in between two sizes and want to feel more comfortable, opt for the larger size.
I wore my black lace Numi’s sweat free shirt on its own on my most recent flights and was pleased with the result. While it’s black so sweat stains would not show no matter what, I looked good and did not feel damp and yucky at all. Note that wearing Numi’s sweat-absorbing shirts does not mean you can skip applying deodorant. While it seems that odors are lessened, you need to do your best not to be the most-hated person in the aircraft.
Numi’s sweat-absorbing shirts are made of TENCEL and Lycra and can be thrown in the washing machine on a cold cycle without worrying that they’ll shrink or fall apart. Even better, the brand is also committed to do their best to be sustainable; the fabric used is knit and dyed in Canada and their TENCEL is “processed in a closed-loop facility. This process recycles water and reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%,” their website explains.
I’ve started wearing my Numi shirts on other occasions that could trigger some heavy sweating, like violin lessons, biking back fully loaded from the grocery store, walking to town to meet friends, etc. and there have not been any awkward situations.
And for people who sweat a lot, it matters. It’s freeing to know you’re not going to look like you just ran a marathon when you’ve actually just walked for five minutes in totally normal temperatures, or just sat in an airplane for a few hours.