By Anna Carey
Saturday August 29 2009
Flight attendants have worn many different ensembles over the decades. Initially, the uniforms had, like those of the pilots, a slightly military air. “Most of the girls still think that the early 60s uniforms — navy-blue suits which fitted quite nicely, and a white shirt, a hat and gloves — were the smartest of the lot,” says Libbie Escolme-Schmidt. “After that, we went into mini-skirts. Everybody else was running around in mini-skirts in the 60s, so BA had to do something. And anyway — and I was a guilty party to this — we were all hitching up our skirts anyway!”
As the decade progressed, airline bosses went ever further in their attempts to sell the stewardesses as sexy air babes. This culminated in the introduction of floral mini-dresses made of paper (pictured far right) which, one former stewardess remembers, “American men used to try to cut [shorter] with their own scissors”.
Uniforms are a bit less outrageous these days. Former Aer Lingus air hostess Michelle Doherty was fond of her Louise Kennedy-designed Aer Lingus outfit. In fact, it sounds like she quite misses it.
“Working at Phantom, I spend every morning going ‘Oh God, what am I going to wear?’ Whereas with a uniform you don’t have to worry,” she says.
“You have your shirt, skirt, jacket, scarf and a little routine, and you could always put your hands on it. You didn’t have to think. It was glamorous and it looked nice. And it looked good seeing everyone dressed the same.”
Escolme-Schmidt thinks the post-60s attire never matched the style of the early years, however.
“After they lowered the hems again in the 70s, many of the uniforms weren’t as attractive as those early, partially military uniforms.”
– Anna Carey