Style in the Aisle: Flight-Attendant Fashion Over The Years



The Museum of Flight, located a little south of Seattle, owns one of the most extensive collections of historic flight attendant uniforms of US-based airlines, stretching from the 1930s to the 1980s. These vintage uniform and memorabilia is on display at the “Style in the Aisle” exhibit at the Seattle Museum of Flight until May 30, 2011.


Hughes Airways stewardesses

The exhibit features a dozen complete uniforms, dating from the 1930s to the 1980s and representing several different airlines. The progression from conservative uniforms to colorful and flamboyant fashions and back to conservative mirrors the public image of the flight attendant’s role over the 80-year history. The exhibit also features a variety of artifacts including flight bags, accessories, and memorabilia that help tell the story of the flight attendant alongside glamorous photographs.

The Museum of Flight’s extensive flight attendant uniform collection made its first public appearance in a temporary exhibition in 2008. The exhibit became so popular that the museum has brought it back the second time with many new uniforms added to the exhibit.


In 1935 and 1936 flight attendants wore bandages on his left shoulder in honor of the birth of "United Air Lines".  This photo is among those that are presented at the exhibition in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, which will be held until May 30


Dress of Delta Airlines stewardesses in summer (left) and in winter, circa 1940-42. 


Group of flight attendants demonstrating the winter dresses of Delta Airlines from 1965 to 1968


Flight attendant uniform for “Air West” designed by Oleg Cassini worn from 1968 to 1971


A Seventies publicity image for United Airlines show the first class service passengers would receive. The style of uniform indicates that it was a flight to a tropical destination such as Hawaii


Stewardesses of “Qantas Airways” in uniform created by Emilio Pucci, which they wore from 1974 to 1985. 


Airline stewardess of “Delta Airlines” serving passengers, circa 1968-1970


An archive photograph of airline stewardesses of “American Airlines” modeling uniforms in the early Seventies


Stewardesses of “Southwest Airlines” in a photo taken in 1971


Delta Airlines uniform from the period 1979-1983


A Pacific Southwest Airlines uniform from 1973


A United Airlines stewardess aboard a Boeing 747 in the early Seventies


A Hughes Airwest uniform from 1972


Quantas Airways staff in uniforms worn from 1974-1985 designed by Italian fashion legend Emilio Pucci.


A Southwest Airlines stewardess takes orders for drinks in the year 2000


  Stewardesses of “Delta Air Lines” in the uniform designed by Richard Tyler that appeared in 2006

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  1. Uniforms have gotten so boring compared to what they used to be! I love the silver boots on the Southwest 1971 photo on the ramp!

  2. Where has the glamour gone? Airlines has class in the 70's.

  3. Because the best way to maximize your effectiveness in the event of an emergency is in a damned dress. WTF?

    1. Yeah! For Sure! I can't count the times that a properly outfitted flight attendant prevented a disaster! I want all my flight attendants in steel-toed combat boots and cargo pants. You never know when they might need to fight the bad guys, or carry all of us out of a burning plane!

  4. I always admired how elegant and perfectly put-together flight atttendants looked, but that glamour has been lost with the years. Now, they sometimes even look a little careless. That's too bad!

  5. event of an emergency? what planet do you live on, US carriers rarely have problems fortunately...chicken little...LOL

    1. Oh please, US Carriers have crap services and don't even have the best safety records. Middle Eastern airlnes are better.

  6. FAs uniforms were better back then.

  7. I was a Stewardess for AAL for fourteen years in the 60s-70s.. that is when East was East and West was West: Women were women & Men were men... we had class... pride, that is when flying meant something.. no terrorism, no monkeybusiness.. just going from point A to point B... people had respect for each other, but more importantly: people had respect for THEMSELVES. No social media, in fact, social mores were the norm. It was expected to behave, to have dignity in actions, verbally & physically & not bring shame upon your name, country, or place of employment. PERIOD! Among the favorites of flying to 6 continents, it was taking the soldiers and of lucky, bringing them home for their R and R out of Viet Nam. What an honor to be a part of a soldier's entry or exit into serving his country. God Bless our Military families; our men and women. Those were the highlights of my flying career. Flying enough to get seniority afforded me time to get a Real Estate license and graduate from law school. What an opportunity to meet people from all over the 7 continents, to meet their children, and take that training into the next 50 years.
    It's been a hoot....wouldn't trade for anything, ever. Met my husband on the beach in Waikiki. Forty-two years later, we're still hitched. American Airlines saved me from a boring life of possibly marrying early, having babies, and being mad that I didn't leave
    my boring home town @ age 20. Now I'm a granny... call me "born @ the right time!"


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