Journal: When Fashionable Women Ruled The Skies

When Fashionable Women Ruled The Skies

By Petrolicious Productions
July 7, 2015

The story of how stewardesses were made a part of air travel is an often-told tale of training women to be, essentially, equal parts nurse, cook, and pin-up model. And while those days are thankfully over, modern flight attendants also don’t get a chance to wear uniforms that push the boundaries of fashion.

Originally a man’s job, the role of steward evolved into stewardess in the ‘30s, and was one of the first opportunities for women to enter the workforce. Demand for jobs in the industry was astronomical, but the demands placed on applicants were equally demanding. Often, age, weight, and relationship status were used to find ideal candidates.

Caring for hundreds of people is difficult enough, but put them all into a cigar-shaped fuselage thousands of feet into the sky—often with cigarette smoke wafting around inside—and the demands on airline staff become incredible.

To make matters more complicated, once airlines realized the publicity earned by having groups of well-dressed young women walking around airports in between flights, uniforms became more fashionable and more extreme. The most extreme? Well, Playboy Magazine did operate a jet for a number of years, nicknamed the “Big Bunny”.

As Hefner said in the Wall Street Journal as part of a story on the aircraft, “Stewardesses used to look like Bond Girls; now they look like your mother. The jet bunnies’ costumes were very James Bond-like. There was a black mini dress made of a leatherette material that was very striking, tall boots and a long white scarf with a rabbit. I’m very design oriented, so I had a lot to do with them.”

Of course, Hefner wasn’t operating a commercial airline, and so his idea of a fashionable uniform is far more extreme than what the airlines came up with. Delta Airlines, for instance, used fashion designers, Hollywood costume designers, and clothing manufacturers who were renowned for style. Moreover, designs were freshened up each season, giving frequent flyers a different look at the cabin crew.

Take a look at some of the designs that have inspired us—and if you work for an airline, please use these as inspiration for your next uniform changeover!

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Kurt Uzbay
Kurt Uzbay
8 years ago

Just booked my flight on PLBY Air….
no destination… its the Journey..

8 years ago

“those days are thankfully over”, couldn’t agree more. TSA groping and the sheer misery of air travel is WAY better today.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

Yup ! Back when the women were thin and beautiful – Their uniforms rivaled high fashion [ because most of them were designed by the major fashion houses of the day ] – The service and food even in coach was quite good – legroom beyond need and flying was an event worth looking forward to rather than a chore and a miserable time wasting grind to be dreaded .

Ha ! .. by the way I love the Hefner quote but I think I’d take it a step further by saying they now all look like Roseanne Conner and Will Truman .

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