Casual Aviation Apparel Guide for the [Stylish] Off-Duty Pilot

We know you love being a pilot, but we’re also willing to bet you aren’t wearing your uniform shirt out to dinner or the movies. So how do you keep that aviation vibe going and translate it into stylish casual getups on your days off?

The secret is a closet stocked with well-designed aviation apparel that you can mix and match to build signature looks. Not sure how to get started?

Keep reading and we will share all our favorite head-to-toe ideas for year-round pilot fashion.

Pilot Baseball Caps

The best baseball cap for pilots is both meaningful and fashionable. Your cap lets you showcase your favorite brands, groups, and affiliations in a stylish way.

Our hats are all made from high-quality cotton with a soft, comfortable, brushed twill fabrication that hits just the right note of casual yet put together. The featured logos and emblems are elegantly embroidered or set on luxe raised patches.

The pilot ball caps in our collection include favorites like the Lockheed Martin hat plus Piper and Cessna aircraft hats. Aviation ball caps are also a great way to brag about your favorite military air unit or aircraft. We have designs from legendary air bomber squadrons like the 508th Fighter Squadron and the 5th Bombing Squadron as well as historic planes like the Spitfire.

Aviation Sunglasses

The perfect sunglasses are an important piece of your casual pilot look. They pull an outfit together and make it look more polished. Choose shades with a shape that complements your face and a lens color that is optimized for the type of lighting you plan to wear the glasses in. Some of our current favorites are the Oakley collection and the newly available high-tech aviators from Randolph Engineering who used to supply exclusively to the military.

Flying Shirts

Graphic tees have been casual wear staples for decades, and retro styles are trending right now. That’s great news for pilots and aviation fans who want to stock up on iconic flying t-shirts. We have hundreds of pilot tees that help you look cool while letting everyone know how much you love to fly.

Not sure where to start browsing? USAF thunderbirds t shirts are always favorites as are designs with fun sayings like “I’d rather by flying,” “Born to fly,” or simply, “Flying.”

SUN ‘n FUN tees are another very popular pilot tee category and we have a full range of designs and colors. We especially love the graphic sunset aerospace expo  aviation tee with its clean, eye-catching vintage design and color scheme. It looks great with a pair of retro board shorts and flip flops for summer or layered under an unzipped brown leather bomber jacket for fall.

Aviation Jackets, Fleece, and Outerwear

During the cooler months of the year, warm pilot outerwear options are a must. Fleece is great for chilly spring and fall days. Once the real cold of winter weather sets in, heavy-weight nylon, leather, polyester, and wool blend jackets, and coats will keep your body temperature up.

Pilot Fleece Jacket

Spring and fall temps call for a lighter weight, yet cozy layering piece to wear over your aviation tees. Instead of just tossing on an old hoodie, keep the classy casual pilot clothing look going and choose a well-made fleece zip up or pullover with an aviation-themed design.

Red Canoe’s Cessna Heritage fleece is emblazoned with the Cessna name in a retro-feeling design. It celebrates the heritage and legacy of aviation with extra authentic patches on the chest and shoulder. The 80% cotton and 20% polyester fabric is soft and warm on crisp days.

Are you more of a Boeing fan? Red Canoe makes a Boeing Vintage Totem full zip fleece that has a similar sophisticated feel to the Cessna Heritage offering. The Boeing design showcases the company’s legacy totem logo on the front left chest and an American flag on the sleeve. The back of the cotton blend sweatshirt declares “manufactured by Boeing” and again includes the historical totem logo this time paired with the model, serial number, and engine info of a B-17E bomber. Slip into history with this classic cool-weather look.

Pilot Flight Coat

When winter arrives, no jacket is more sophisticated than a classic naval pea coat. Our wool-blend design comes in black or navy and includes a nylon quilted lining for extra warmth. Pair with a pop of color dress shirt, leather gloves, dark wash denim, and dress shoes for the perfect dinner or date night look.

Flight Jackets

The first choice when picking a flight jacket is whether you want nylon or leather. The pros of nylon are its affordability and water resistance. Just be careful around high heat and flames since nylon can melt near a campfire or in a hot dryer.

Leather, on the other hand, is more of an investment piece and is priced accordingly. Along with the visual appeal for those who enjoy a leather look, the main advantages of leather are its warmth and durability. A well-cared for leather jacket can last decades.  On the other hand, leather jackets are not water-resistant unless they have been waterproofed. Also, if you’re someone who gets overheated easily, a leather jacket may be too toasty warm for you.

Now that you have a better idea of what your choices are, here are our current favorite nylon and leather jackets.

Nylon Flight Jacket

The U.S. Air Force designed CWU 45-P nylon flight jacket has both insulating warmth and rain/snow repelling water resistance. The key is in the dual fabrication of a nylon outer with a quilted polyester inner lining. This jacket comes in both black and sage green.

Leather Flight Jacket

If you’re a leather bomber jacket lover, the WWII-era Mustang A-2 is an iconic choice. This jacket is made with a top grain goatskin treated with vegetable tanning to emulate the weathered look of a vintage A-2 that has seen action. Slide your A2 leather jacket on over a dressy sweater for a more sophisticated occasion or pair with a graphic tee, distressed jeans, and boots for a relaxed casual pilot look.

Flight Jackets with Hoods

During the coldest winter days, bundle up from the harsh elements with hooded flight jacket designs that have been tried and proven by generations of U.S. military pilots. The M-51 Fishtail Parka got its start with U.S. Army personnel in Korea. The long parka jacket features a full-length front zipper covered by a protective storm flap, and the hood also has drawstring adjusters to keep it from flying off in high winds or near spinning rotors.

Like the M-51, the Army’s M-65 soft shell tactical field jacket also offers a full-length protected zipper and drawstring hood. The M-65 takes its cold weather protection a step further with a draw cord on the waist and bottom as well so you can really block the cold air out. Four easily accessible front flap pockets leave plenty of room to store your phone and other gear within easy reach. The M-65 comes in black, coyote brown, and military olive drab colors.

The U.S. Air Force’s N-3B parka is such a staple pilot winter jacket design that we have two versions: the vintage N-3B Parka and the updated N-3B Snorkel Parka.

The vintage version embraces the original aesthetic with a water-repellant outer shell in your choice of black or military olive drab. Its liner is a warmth-capturing nylon.

The original Air Force N-3B was built to keep pilots warm in temperatures down to -60F. The modern snorkel version keeps that basic design while adding extra stylish upgrades and functionality. Some of the new design highlights are the adjustable hood, waist, and sleeve cuffs which can be cinched down to keep the cold air and wintery precipitation out. The updated N-3B comes in black, sage green, and navy blue.

Aviation Watches

We’ve already created a detailed guide on the best aviation watches for every budget that highlights twenty amazing pilots watches that will serve you well in the cockpit. When you’re off-duty though, you may want something a little more understated.

Two of our favorite watches for everyday wear are the Avion Citizen and the Bulova A-15. Both faces are set on classic brown leather bands and contain timeless, sophisticated details that are sure to impress without being overly showy. The retro Bulova is inspired by a World War II-era design and includes a 21-jewel automatic movement instead of quartz so it’s fully period appropriate. Both these watches embody the classic aviator aesthetic.

Aviation Shoes

Aviation sneakers are classy, comfortable, and functional – everything you need for everyday wear too. You probably already have dedicated black or white Lift Aviation Air Boss shoes with the rudder pedal gripping, oil/heat/slip resistant soles to wear while flying. But have you thought about getting another pair for casual wear?

Other Aviation Clothing Accessories

When we said we have you covered for head-to-toe aviation apparel, we meant it. We have it all, right down to your accessories and underwear. Here are some suggestions for rounding out your complete off-duty pilot look:

Pilot Underwear

Now, we’ll admit that crop duster boxer briefs aren’t necessarily “stylish,” but they are fun, and if you gift a set to another pilot, you’ll both get a good laugh at the crop duster plane graphic printed on the rear.

Pilot Socks

A pair of rudder socks with “left rudder” and “right rudder” printed on the bottom is another fun pilot gift. Wear these soft, comfy socks while kicking back in your lounger after a long day. Bonus points if you put them on the wrong feet and see if your friends dare to say anything about it.

Pilot Cufflinks

Not all our aviation accessories are just for laughs though. For dressier events, pop a bit of pilot flair with a subtle pair of jet engine cufflinks or a conversation starting set of Army green P38 Lightning aircraft cufflinks.

Pilot Ties

Inject some interest and fun into your dressy casual looks when you pair a solid-colored button-down shirt and pants with a statement pilot tie. The small aviation-themed prints look sharp and trendy when you make them the star of the show. Floating astronauts, hot air balloons, and warbirds – we have them all.

Pilot Belt Buckles

Proclaim your dedication to aviation with a large statement pilot wings pewter belt buckle that pairs perfectly with jeans and cowboy boots on your day off.

Women’s Aviation Apparel

Female pilots who want a little looser, less tailored fit can easily choose any of the aviation tees and pilot jackets we already talked about, but those aren’t the only options for lady aviators. Our dedicated women’s aviation apparel line is designed with figure flattering fits, cuts, and sizing.

Enjoy a massive variety of prints and designs set on our 100% ring spun combed cotton V-neck tees. All our shirts are machine washable and made from a just-right-thickness 4.3-ounce fabric that’s perfect for everyday wear.

Not sure which shirt to choose? Celebrate earning your pilot wings by sporting a classy “Pilot in Command” graphic design. For full-time pilots, we like the cheeky “Eat, Sleep, Fly, Repeat” tee.

Want to play with a pop culture reference while honoring aviation history? Try “The Pilot Bunch” tee with an aviation spin on The Brady Bunch. This shirt features piloting greats Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Harriet Quimby, Neil Armstrong, Pancho Barnes, the Wright Brothers, and Bob Hoover.

More aviation clothing ideas

It’s your turn

When you’re off-duty, what is your favorite go-to aviation clothing look? What other casual pilot clothes items would you like to see us add to our collection?

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