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Flight Attendant Uniforms Thru The Years

1930’s – Company colors were utilized to amp up uniformity amongst the crew. The garb was conservative and made out of warm fabrics such as wool. Overall the uniforms were modest with calf length skirts and a cape. A little later on in the 30’s women desired a more flattering figure so a pill box hat was added, the cape was removed, and square shoulders for figure defining curves. This later became known as the “Pretty Girl” uniform.


1940’s – In this decade fashion designers started to take notice of the opportunity in flight attendant uniforms. Designer Howard Greer looked for ways to make their uniforms easy to wear and handle… searching for innovation in fashion. He found what he was looking for by creating a combined slip in rayon and satin that did not need constant adjustment. A discrete triangular jacket flap could be unbuttoned to cover the TWA lettering, allowing the hostess to smoke or enjoy a cocktail while off duty without creating a bad reputation for the airline.


1950’s – By now the high flying life of a flight attendant became synonymous with the reputation of living a worldly and sophisticated life. As air travel became faster, safer, and less expensive, a jet set emerged. Now is when more notable designers began to take notice of flight attendant fashion. Now they wanted women to emulate being in the work place, Beverly Hills Don Lauper accomplished this with pencil skirts and slanted pocket flaps to reflect the aerodynamic mood of the times.


1960’s – Hemlines are getting shorter, women are embarking on the mod movement. And, the big  names are starting to take notice. The House of Dior stepped on the scene amplifying the idea that being a flight attendant is a big deal job for woman of the times to hold; In-flight fashion really took off. Pun intended.


1970’s – Pants start to become an option for women in this field, presenting an option to either wear a short skirt as was the new fashion from the 60’s or bell bottom pants. At this point the options became more varied to accommodate different styles and different levels of airlines.


1980’s – The vest became a popular choice for in-air service uniform, thanks to its versatility and style. Though, at this point things have become more casual to accommodate mobility for the flight attendants themselves. And, in turn, the industry though still held by many women began to loose the expensive, jet-set luster it once had. At least, to the degree it was embodied.


1990’s – Flight attendants are now provided with more options, however high end designers have stepped off the scene. Additionally, men are starting to apply for the job as well.


Today – Many airlines have gone back to the classics, a nod to the golden years of being a flight attendant. Uniforms have gone back to knee length pencil skirts and sometimes hats.


Fashion is an iconic way to tell stories, to preserve history, and indicate industry change. Each decade shows the shift in personality of the time and flight attendant rules and responsibilities. It was, at one time, a very glamorous job to have as a woman… an elitist job if you will. Over time it’s become a job that can be held by both men and women and isn’t considered as glamorous as it once was but is still often sought after for the flight benefits.

Love the fashion changes? Which decade was your favorite?

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