August 16, 2022
Today in Aviation: World’s First Airline Uniforms Are Introduced
Today in Aviation

Today in Aviation: World’s First Airline Uniforms Are Introduced

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, British carrier Instone Air Line introduced uniforms to its pilots and staff in 1922. It is believed that these were the world’s first commercial airline service uniforms.

Like all early uniforms, garments were designed for the male figure. The look was heavily military-inspired and created from whatever materials were available at the time. And this was how the uniforms would remain until the arrival of Ellen Church, the world’s first female Flight Attendant, in May 1930.

Church, along with the other early female FA’s, were registered nurses, and thus their uniforms reflected that occupation. The military element continued with dull colors, matching hats, and white gloves.

AB Aerotransport (Swedish Air Lines) FA’s in 1946 or 1947 at Bromma Airport, Stockholm, with DC-3 Ankan, SE-BBR, in the background. (Photo: SAS Scandinavian Airlines) 

Flight Attendants to Fashion Icons

But as aviation developed, so did the uniforms. The post-war era saw more and more people take to the air. This led to airlines looking at ways to entice passengers onto their jets. The early days of the “Cabin Boys” were replaced by the sexualised look of the “stewardess.”

This marketing tactic saw carriers such as Braniff International introduce new looks from some of the world’s top designers. Braniff would go one step further with their Emilio Pucci look, which saw scantily clad crew members carry out the “Air Strip” and remove various uniform layers throughout the flight.

Braniff International FA in the Emilio Pucci uniform posing during the official French presentation of Concorde in 1967. (Photo: André Cros, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Over the past two decades, most airlines have introduced a much more conservative look for their staff. And more recently, carriers such as Play and SkyUp have gone for more relaxed and gender-neutral outfits.

Featured image: Instone Air Line was a forerunner to British Airways, which is set to introduce a new uniform designed by Ozwald Boateng. Photo: British Airways

Writer, aviation fanatic, plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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