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Female Flight Attendant (Air Hostess) Uniforms – Dressing To Impress!

An International History of Flight Attendant Uniform Fashion

Few other things create more excitement around the female flight attendant (F/A), or the air hostess, than their classy uniforms! An impressive, classy uniform also acts as a great motivator or great pride in one’s job as a flight attendant.

Furthermore, the uniform represents a professional image of the airline for the passengers, adding to the overall review of how passengers perceive the standards of the airline to be.

This article in no way intends to portrait the stigma of the “old days” where only females were flight attendants. The flight attendants in today’s world consist of females, males, and intersexed professionals, all doing an important job, keeping passengers safe while providing passenger service at the same time.

100 Years of Flight Attendant Uniforms | Condé Nast Traveler/YouTube

Flight Attendant (F/A) versus Air Hostess

You will notice that I am using the words “flight attendant” and “air hostess” interchangeably in this story.

In the U.S. the word “air hostess” is hardly used anymore. Neither is the word “stewardess. However, the words “air hostess” and even “stewardess” are indeed very commonly used in many other parts of the world still, to describe the title of a flight attendant.

An Air Hostess’ pride in her uniform and her job

The surreal feeling of weightlessness, with every mile that the flight puts between you and the hard ground reality;
All the problems are forgotten as you imagine yourself piercing the deep blue sky,
You close your eyes – Hoping for a better tomorrow,
Flying does that to you, for a moment it shows you how small your vast city is and how big the endless sky.
Adding a splash of color to this equation – The Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink of the Air hostess’s uniform”.

Air Hostess Author Unknown

Flight Attendant / Air Hostess Uniforms – Changes through the Ages

In the United States

The visual Appeal

1970 onwards, Air Hostesses were acting as a branding symbol for various airlines. They were commonly featured in magazines, billboards, and doing full-length photoshoots.

The late 1960s to the early 1970s were the years of “psychedelic colored fashion”, first started by the hippie-movement of the era. There wasn’t long before airlines followed suit, outfitting cabin crews in the styles of the times.

TWA cabin crew 1970s, psychedelic uniforms of the times
Classy TWA (Trans World Airlines) cabin crew deplaning after a flight. TWA was acquired by American in 2001. Photo: TWA.
PSA cabin crew 1970s, psychedelic uniforms of the times
PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) air hostesses in the 1970s. The airline was acquired by American Airlines in 1988. Photo: PSA.
Southwest Airlines cabin crew psychedelic uniform colors
Southwest air hostesses in attractive psychedelic-style outfits in the 1970s. Photo: Southwest.

Today’s trend: Functionality over Glamor

Historically, airlines heavily regulated the look of Air Hostesses; they had rules on makeup, hair, and clothes; however, now the priorities have changed.

Nowadays, while the dresses are still smart, Airlines mostly prefer functionality over visual appeal.

There’s also an evolved approach to the role of an Air Hostess – they are also doing a job, and unnecessary glamorizing doesn’t serve any purpose.

Air hostess fashion in India

Let’s take a closer look at the history of the air hostess trend in a far-from-the-U.S.-place like India:

The Very Beginning

Flight attendant in India dressing to impress
Photo: Air India.

Back in 1946 when Air India introduced the concept of Air Hostesses, the air hostesses were mainly Anglo Indian or British women. They were wearing tailored suits and sporting a sleek European style.

For almost two decades this was the look of an Air Hostess.

Mysticism

During the 1960s, India started being positioned as a mystical land to maintain this exoticism.

Airplanes also started catering to what the rest of the world wanted – Indian Culture.

India flight attendant air hostess uniforms
Photo: Indian Collection.

This period saw the rise of Lehenga choli, Churidaar, and Silk Sarees. Airlines were putting great thoughts on the type of dresses Air Hostesses were wearing. Only the most expensive textiles were being used for design.

Exoticism

exotic flight attendant air hostess uniforms
Photo: Air India.

The year of 1973, Air India came up with an ad that read “Next time you fly 747 to New York, be unfaithful.”

This was the beginning of the whole sultry appeal given to the Air Hostess persona.

Saree not sorry

saree air hostess uniforms
Photo: Air India.

India devoted the 1980s thru the early 200s to the colorful saree uniforms.

Chiffon was the queen of the revolution.

The most memorable of them all was the Red saree look of Air India which defined India’s aspiration for air travel.

Skirt over Saree

Although Air India retained the Indian Saree look, many new-age airlines portrayed themselves as Global, adopting western blazer, shirt, and skirt.

This trend started in 2008, with King Fisher and Jet Airlines leading the race.

Airline companies started partnering with stylists and fashion designers to come up with a unique look just for themselves.

Indigo hired the fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh for the uniform and makeup expert Ambika Pillai for the hair and makeup.

Vistara Airlines partnered with the fashion house Abraham & Thakore to develop their famous Aubergine and gold dress.

Meanwhile, who can forget the bright yellow dress of Jet Airlines?

Perfectly groomed and sporting an impeccable style – air hostesses of today are walking the aisle like supermodels.

Other Global Air Hostess Uniforms

Aeroflot Airlines

Aeroflot flight attendant uniforms, sure dressing to impress
Photo: Aeroflot.

Aeroflot is a Russian airline with suit-like red uniforms also including bright white gloves, ascots, hats, and pointed-toe heels.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore flight attendant 2014 air hostesses
Photo: Singapore.

Air Hostess working for Singapore Airlines wear patterned full-length shift dresses.

They complete the look by parting their hair in a sleek updo.

Ethiopian Airways

Flight Attendant uniforms Ethiopian Airways
Photo: Ethiopian.

Crew members on Ethiopian Airlines wear green pantsuits and white shirts – sporting a sleek and confident look.

Alitalia Airlines

AlItalia flight attendant uniforms
Photo: Aliatalia.

Air Hostesses of Italy-based Alitalia show their bright red and green geometric patterned dresses with a belt. They wear a tiered beret, and their appearance also includes oblong buttons on their uniforms.

Cebu Pacific

FA Uniform of Cebu Pacific airlines
Photo: Cebu Pacific.

Cebu Pacific is an airline that takes a casual approach to uniforms. Basically, they wear plain jeans and T-shirts.

La Compagnie Airlines

La Compagnie crew uniforms
Photo: La Compagnie.

An uber-chic airline only having business class seats, (based in Paris), has Air Hostesses wearing blue and gray blazers with matching Bermuda shorts.

Garuda Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia Air hostess uniforms
Photo: Garuda Indonesia.

Members of this Airline wear orange or teal long skirts with a slit on the front. They complete their look with black peep-toe heels.

Avianca Airlines

Avianca pilot and cabin crew
Photo: Avianca.

This airline is famous for its red flight attendant uniforms that come with cloak-like jackets.

Professional pride

Female Air Hostess Uniforms are a source of pride for every girl who wears it; it represents her choice, her independence, and her unwavering will to succeed.

Aim for a chance to wear her colors!

Featured Image: Aeroflot.

Updated August 8, 2020.

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