Top 10 U.S. Flight Attendant Uniforms From The Groovy Era (10-6)

TOP 10 U.S. FLIGHT ATTENDANT UNIFORMS FROM THE GROOVY ERA (10-6)

Being a flight attendant is a lifestyle. A go go lifestyle. Flight attendant uniforms are a reflection of culture, a representation of an era in the form of the latest uniform collection. Who better represents the adventurous, experimental, expansive aura of the 1960s than flight attendants?

In this blog post, we take a look at our Top 10 U.S. Flight Attendant Uniforms From the Groovy Era, the 1960s and 1970s.  Let’s prepare for departure. Coming in at #10…

10. HAWAIIAN AIRLINES

Hawaiian Airlines Uniforms 1974 and 1979
Hawaiian Airlines, 1968

Two words: FLOWER POWER. Hawaiian Airlines made the jump from classic tailored suits to more colorful, playful uniforms in 1968 with an adorable sleeveless A-line floral print dress.

Hawaiian seamlessly applied contemporary 1960s slogan, movement, and concept, “flower power” to their aviation branding. For reference, here’s a look at flower power aesthetic:

Flower Power is an excellent motif as the islands of Hawaii are known for their luscious natural habitat. Hawaiian Airlines 1960s and 70s flight attendant uniforms draw inspiration from flora and fauna. The airline applied their own beautiful aesthetic to a cultural movement (flower power) creating a distinct brand image. Who doesn’t love being surrounded by stunning tropical florals in luscious greens, yellows, pinks, and orange? 

The Flower Power motif matches the laid back essence of Hawaii. It was an airline uniform fashion trend with staying power, as Hawaiian flight crews still incorporate flowers as well as other cultural symbols in their looks when flying to and from the popular tourist destination.

9. MOHAWK AIRLINES

Mohawk Airlines ad, 1968. Mohawk Airlines was a regional U.S. airline in service from the mid-1940s to 1972.

“The uniform is out — the ensemble is in! AND WHAT A CHANGE!” 

One of the most exciting elements in flight attendant fashion from the 60s and 70s was the bold use of color. From pastels to brights to classic primaries, uniform fashion covered it all. Color in general and specifically color blocking was an exciting feature in 60s fashion. Designers and luxury department stores (such as Saks Fifth Avenue who designed this Mohawk Airlines uniform collection) didn’t hold back, incorporating bold colors in business casual ensembles and even work uniforms. The flight attendant and customer service agent uniforms for Mohawk Airlines demonstrates perfectly such creative use of color in airline fashion. 

The Mohawk collection incorporated purple, “apple” green, yellow, white, navy pieces and accessories. For a look at Mohawk Airlines uniforms, check out the Uniform Freak archive..

Here are a few more examples of color blocking:

8. NATIONAL AIRLINES

National Airlines debuted “the uniform that purrs” in 1971-72

National Airlines operated in the U.S. from 1934 until acquired by Pan Am in 1980. National Airlines experimented with citrus color scheme dresses throughout 68 to 72.

Flight attendant Cynthia Robertson models new uniform in 1971

However, it’s this black and white image in particular, the faux tiger fur coat, the advertising campaign complete with a baby Bengal tiger, and pieces introduced as the “uniform that purrs” that secures National Airlines at #8!

Does it get any groovier than animal print and faux fur? In the 70s, flight attendant uniforms steered away from high fashion and bold designer wear towards camp, cheeky, stylish looks. Airlines adopted even flashier branding through FA uniforms with an emphasis on babes and entertainment. It was about doing the most!

The faux tiger coat was worn over a simple khaki dress and hat which most definitely deserves honorable mention in the category of groovy uniform accessories based on volume alone. For the best look at National Airlines uniform pieces, check out Cliff Musket’s private collection of pieces here.

Flashy 70s flight attendant fashion lasted until around 1975 or so, when silhouettes shifted towards business casual, longer dresses and suits signaling the approaching 80s. Maybe after all this pizazz it was time to tone it down a bit? We cherish this moment in airline uniform history in all it’s groovy glory. The airlines were delivering a clear message through branding. Go big or GO HOME! Roar! 

7. HUGHES AIRWEST

Welcome aboard the flying banana. It’s Hughes Airwest!

There’s an element of mystery surrounding relatively short-lived airline Hughes Airwest (1968-1980). Without a little digging or being an avid aviation geek (we’re guilty), one could miss this fashion history completely. Hughes predominantly bright yellow uniforms combined with accent colors royal blue, pink, and orange designed by Mario Zamparelli is a choice that leaves an unforgettable imprint.

Here’s a statement highlighting the impact, “Hughes Airwest operated bright yellow planes dubbed ‘Flying Bananas.’ Their flight attendant’s uniforms were designed to match their fleet, with yellow dresses, boots, and even hooded capes that caught the eye and ensured that everyone knew they worked for the ‘Top Banana in the West.’

Go Go Boots designed by Mario Zamparelli for Hughes Airwest

Hughes Airwest flight attendant uniforms make us believe flight attendants were in fact working undercover for the CIA. The loudest dressed is also a spy? A little Carmen Sandiego? A babes place is in the resistance? These uniforms spark the imagination. They are a beautiful and slightly odd piece of airline history from the groovy era. That’s why Hughes comes in at #7.

6. UNITED AIRLINES

IN MOD WE TRUST! Clean cut and smart, the United Airlines A-line dress uniform designed by Jean Louis (worn from 1968 to 1970) epitomized the essence of mod fashion. Down to the finer details, this uniform collection is flawless, contemporary and refined.

Additionally, the simple variations as well as play on design elements positive/negative space, lines and color are pleasing to the eye. These uniforms create an appearance of modernity coupled with sophistication and grace. 

“You’ve got to remember that the word ‘mod’ is derived from ‘modernist’, and that the key thing about the look is that, yes, it’s clean-cut and smart, but that it’s open to all kinds of influences, and it constantly evolves,” says the tailor Mark Powell.

Unforgettable and timeless, United Airlines ranks solid at #6 in our Top 10 U.S. Flight Attendant Uniforms From the Groovy Era. 5-1 to be continued in our next post. Until then, we hope you enjoyed the ride. 

2 Comments

  1. Michelle

    I would love to read the full article but i can only see up to #6 United Airlines. Is the entire article posted somewhere else?

    • Jenny

      Hi Michelle, Thanks for commenting. Part 2 is coming out in a few days. It turned into a longer process than anticipated so I divided them into two separate posts. Stay tuned and thank you for commenting. <3

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