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The height of fashion: From mini skirts and go go boots to Vivienne Westwood creations, the evolution of cabin crew uniforms from the 1940s to today





The height of fashion: From mini skirts and go go boots to Vivienne Westwood creations, the evolution of cabin crew uniforms from the 1940s to today

From the glamorous 50s to the high-hems of the 70s, fascinating photos reveal fashion in the skies over the years

If you were employed on Hugh Hefner's jet in the late 1960s leatherette mini dresses would have been your uniform

Earlier this month female crew members at British Airways won the right to wear trousers as part of their attire

Outfits from the golden age of travel to Vivienne Westwood uniforms today, air hostess fashion has always added a touch of glamour to mile-high journeys.

When commercial flying took off in the 1950s, flying was not just about getting from A to B, the flight was an event in itself - and the immaculate uniforms reflected this. 

Over the years styles have featured hot pants, gloves and tailored designs - and if you were employed on Hugh Hefner's jet in the late 1960s you may have even donned leatherette mini dresses, bunny ears and tails. 

Recently airlines have enlisted the fashion talents of celebrity designers to ensure staff look the creme de la creme of the skies, as shown by Virgin Atlantic's stylish creations.

While many outfits have reflected the fashion trends, it was only earlier this month that female cabin crew members at British Airways won the right to wear trousers as part of their uniforms.

Here MailOnline Travel journeys back through the ages to see the evolution of sky-high trends.

As commercial air travel started to take off in the 1940s, with a number of expanded routes and destinations, the uniforms worn by airline staff exuded professionalism and strongly reflected the luxury level of service offered by each aviation brand.

Flight attendant outfits were uniformed, with midi skirts resting just below the knee, and matching shoes and hats were worn. 

Small heels were commonplace, along with curled hairstyles secured neatly underneath their hats.

During the golden age of travel in the 1950s and 60s, passengers would be dressed to the nines, planes boasted three to six inches more legroom, and lobster could be served as a standard airline meal.

Post-war air hostess uniforms were military influenced, featuring tailored blazers, hats and buttons lining jackets and blouses. 

When stewardess Betty Riegel applied to be an airhostess for Pan Am in the 1960s, she said in her book, Up in the Air, that hopefuls had to weigh between 110 and 134 lbs, be between the ages of 21 and 27, single and of good moral character.

The 1960s was an era dominated by bold colours and rising hemlines and this was reflected in uniforms on planes. 

Classic tailoring saw skirts rise above the knees, and more adventurous designs and scarves were experimented with in cabin fashion. 

Southwest Airlines even dressed air hostesses in go-go boots and bold belts to accentuate their waists. 

Air travel in the 1970s saw those with big bucks like Hugh Hefner even fork out for their own private jets to travel around in.  

The magazine founder splashed out on The Big Bunny in the late 1960s and customised it to be the perfect mile-high party venue - complete with air hostesses clad in leatherette black mini dresses.

Meanwhile on major airlines fashion designers were adding their magic touches to uniforms for some of the world’s leading airlines.

Court Line Aviation stewardesses debuted new uniforms designed by Mary Quant in 1973, which included trousers for women. 

Fashion for air hostesses in the 1980s showcased a multitude of plaid, and uniforms reflected the need for more comfortable clothing options.

Many airlines started using waistcoats in their uniforms, and they quickly became a popular choice thanks to their versatility. 

Meanwhile designer Emilio Pucci shied away from conformity and brought a touch of colour to Qantas Airways designs in 1974-1985.

With the wider options of long-haul flights available in the 1990s, clothing needed to be less restrictive and easier to wear during long hours. 

Outfits became looser and less fitted during this decade with comfortable shirts and skirts on display.  

Boxy shoulder pads and big blazers could be seen in airports and plane cabins.

Out with the vests and in with more blazers. Uniforms in the 2000s adopted a more masculine feel with collars jackets, with some airlines allowing trousers as standard. 

Dark coloured suits had pops of colour and signature pieces with brightly coloured buttons or cuff stripes.

Because of religious reasons air hostesses of Bahraini airline Gulf Air wore knee-long skirts and a veil as part of their uniforms - and this hasn't changed today.

  Today uniforms still feature the structured, tailored look, and still have a high-fashion feel about them, reflected with Vivienne Westwood designed outfits for Virgin Atlantic in 2014.

In 2013, the Aeroflot cabin uniform was voted to be the most stylish in Europe in a survey organised by global travel search site, Skyscanner.

And with white gloves and neckties that hark back to the golden age of flying, passengers just might feel as though they've transported back to the swinging Sixties when they step on board.

Meanwhile Etihad's beautiful uniforms offer a subtle nod to its Italian partnership with Alitalia. After all, they were designed by Italian haute couturier Ettore Bilotta.

Conceptualised at his studio in Milan, his aim was to merge the dramatic 1960s couture found in Paris and Rome with the more contemporary looks now seen on catwalks in London and New York.

The colour palette is particularly chic, incorporating regal purple accents with a timeless burgundy tweed. 


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The height of fashion: From mini skirts and go go boots to Vivienne Westwood creations, the evolution of cabin crew uniforms from the 1940s to today
Bernie Hall

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