Top 10 U.S. Flight Attendant Uniforms From The Groovy Era (5-1)

TOP 10 U.S. FLIGHT ATTENDANT UNIFORMS FROM THE GROOVY ERA
(5-1)

This blog post is Part 2 of our Top 10 countdown of the most fashionable U.S. flight attendant uniforms from the 1960s and 70s according to Babes Rage. For our selections 10 to 6, check out our previous post: Top 10 U.S. Flight Attendant Uniforms From the Groovy Era (10-6). Thank you to our friends, (many of whom were flying during this era), at The Classic Flight Attendant Facebook group for helping us collect inspiration for this post. 

In the 60s and 70s, there was an influx in commercial airline travel. Airlines utilized branding via distinct designs on aircraft, ads with catchy phrases and appealing photography, and eye-catching flight attendant uniforms (and the babes who wore them), to get ahead in an extremely competitive industry. 

Let’s take a look at our Top 5 flight attendant uniforms from the 60s and 70s starting with our #5 pick… 

5. TWA

TWA “French Cocktail” paper dress uniform from 1968

Coming in at #5 is legendary, long-standing American carrier TWA (Trans World Airlines). TWA operated from 1930 through 2001, a time span covering nearly the entire history of commercial airline travel (minus the last 20 years). With a long history spanning 7 decades, TWA touched on every major uniform style including our favorite zany trends from the groovy era of flying. The colorful TWA flight attendant uniforms as well as catchy ads from the 60s and 70s do not disappoint. However, it’s this unique statement in flight attendant uniform history that secures TWA’s spot at #5.

TWA 1968 paper dress uniform collection

Pinch yourself because yes, this is real. It’s TWA cuisine-themed collection of paper dresses. The short-lived 1968 paper uniforms were disposable (only worn once or twice) and light-weight (points for practical packing). This uniform illustrates the peak between mid-1960s high fashion designer wear and the flashy yet more relaxed 70s uniforms. Keyword: NOVELTY. Here’s a look at the entire collection of 4 dresses:

TWA cuisine-themed paper dress uniforms from L to R: “French Cocktail,” “Roman Toga,” “British Wrench,” and “Manhattan Penthouse Pajamas”

The paper uniforms hint at post-modern performance art. These uniforms are essentially like wearing a Red Lobster bib to work. (That’s an exaggeration. The dresses were thicker than standard paper but still…). The paper uniforms are truly a whimsical novelty for a job that requires demanding physical labor (push, pull, squat, stand, lift, etc). Strenuous physicality is an element of being a fight attendant that’s often overlooked and must be considered when designing a uniform collection. Although the paper dresses didn’t last long, (for obvious reasons), we love this moment in flight attendant uniform history. 

TWA delivers. (The purple trench is Valentino, darling). Here’s another look at TWA uniforms and ads from the 60s and 70s: 

Check out Uniform Freak for a comprehensive view of TWA uniforms throughout the decades. 

4. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

No doubt about it, the emergence of Southwest Airlines in 1971 was a permanent industry game changer. From their business launch featuring casual, cute hot pants paired with lace up go go boots, to the subsequent deregulation of ticket prices in the airline industry in the mid-70s, a new, laid-back, accessible model of American airline travel emerged. 

Remember what it was like before Southwest Airlines?…You didn’t have hostesses (say it like you’re from Texas) and hot pants. Remember? 

For the first time in commercial airline history, flight attendants more closely resembled entertainers or NFL cheerleaders. 

Southwest wasn’t the only airline to include hot pants in uniform collections. For example, both Eastern and Continental had eye-catching hot pants that presented more like business suits than the Southwest playsuits. 

However, the difference is Southwest Airlines fully integrated the casual look as a key element of their overall brand identity to create a message and grow profits. Although Southwest dialed down the babin’ 70s uniform sex appeal in the future, their 1971 launch had staying-power as the airline still runs a powerful frontrunner operation to this day. 

3. AMERICAN AIRLINES

KISS. Keep It Simple Sweetheart. All American classic. Simplistic with a touch of mod. There’s something simultaneously cutting-edge and precious about the American Airlines 1967 red, white, and blue uniform collection. In particular, (although inconvenient for on the job stains and spills), the white dress is an absolute dream. If we could wear one uniform in the history of all flight attendant uniforms, this would be the one. See how much breathing room there is around the neckline? The fit is perfect. It’s all the rage. 

 

What makes American’s uniforms spectacular is versatility. STYLE is universal. From a customer’s perspective, American uniforms convey clean presentation. With lovely accessories such as the head scarf and belt, the American uniform collection doesn’t miss a beat, paying attention to fine details while keeping the overall appearance streamlined in perfect balance. From this point forward into the 70s, American had several variations while remaining true to their colors and overall brand identity. 

What’s perhaps most interesting about the airline industry is while so much changes, so many things remain the same. Check out the American uniforms and styling while taking a peek into flight attendant culture in this video from 1968.

2. PSA

 

FLY GIRLS! For 1960s and 70s enthusiasts, there’s no flight attendant uniform more aesthetically pleasing and perfectly on trend than the PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) orange, pink, and red uniforms. What this uniform collection has is a little bit of the best of every facet of the groovy era: mini skirts, bright go go boots, color pops, a perfect A-line silhouette with a slight spiral split down the middle, and the raging babes who brought it all together. With simple color play on opposites throughout the collection, these uniforms are truly a perfect design and look great in unity. 

Through the lens of PSA flight attendants in uniform, one catches a glimpse of how much fun it was to fly during this time in history. The ENERGY is tangible.

These Boots Are Made For Flyin’

PSA is less about the brand, the business, or the travel, and more about the overall lifestyle. It’s friendly, fun, welcoming, and aesthetically pleasing. An all around 10, the complete package. Memorable, bold, refreshing, incomparable, and super photogenic. These are the features that solidify PSA’s place at #2 in our Top 10 flight attendant uniforms from the groovy era countdown.

1. BRANIFF INTERNATIONAL

Braniff International flight attendant wearing clear space helmet designed by Pucci to protect the head/hair from weather

Drumroll for Pucci please! Ultra famous 1960s fashion designer Emilio Pucci single handedly put the word COLLECTION in flight attendant uniform fashion. Whoever thought of introducing 60s high fashion to the airline industry, we’d like to thank that person(s) for their genius. Fashion wise, Braniff International is untouchable. In a league (or Universe) of their own at #1. 

To your final destination or the Moon?

Amy Jacqueline Galvin, a member of The Classic Flight Attendant FB group summed it up best, “The famous Pucci body suit was the envy of all the airline.” The rich colors, the coats, the detailed fabrics, the go go boots, the accessories…the excellence doesn’t end. Voluminous silhouettes, bodysuits, the leg wear, even the zippers are cool. The Braniff International flight attendant uniforms are way beyond simply airline fashion or an advertising ploy. This uniform collection is a stroke of genius. A comprehensive masterpiece. A vision. A bold and bizarre fashion risk that WORKED!

Let’s take a look at another risky and yet brilliant Burlesque inspired angle that Braniff International played upon in their sultry campaign “Air Strip.”

Visual depiction of how uniform fashion transforms during phases of flight

The advertising team at Braniff tapped into a constant feature in flying. The phases of flight. Every flight has it. A beginning, middle, and end. Pre-departure, boarding, taxi, take off, the climb, service (ideally at cruise altitude), initial descent, final descent, landing, and deplaning. Like clockwork on a good day, every flight follows the same cycle. The phases of flight call for various stages of a look and utilization of accessories or work tools. For example, flight attendants have concourse shoes usually worn outside, on the concourse, and during boarding. FAs change their shoes into something more comfortable at 10,000 feet or so. Here’s another depiction of accessories implemented during a phase of flight. Check out Braniff International FA’s in their aprons while doing the meal and beverage service mid-flight.

“The Air Strip” turned the phases of flight into a fashion show in the air. Marketed as a source of entertainment for the consumer. Antiquated, slightly inappropriate? Yes. But goodness, it’s groovy! Let’s take a look.  

The largest source of inspiration fueling Pucci’s Braniff International flight attendant uniform collection is a theme that dominated fashion and majorly appealed to the general public during the 1960s. The space age. 

“The clothes that I prefer are those I invent for a life that doesn’t exist yet – the world of tomorrow.” – Pierre Cardin

Pucci’s application of the space age theme is unique in context. Ushered into the airline industry seamlessly via flight attendant uniform fashion. Perhaps during the 60s the airline industry was the best source to convey the theme of what lies beyond as we collectively fly into the unknown. Braniff International capitalized on this massive moment in history thus securing their place at #1 in our Top 10 U.S. fight attendant uniforms from the groovy era!

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