THEN AND NOW: 24 photos of flight-attendant uniforms that show how much they have changed

Dean Conger/Corbis via Getty ImagesA United flight attendant wears the airline’s coral-red uniform in May 1968.
  • Flight-attendant uniforms have evolved alongside fashion trends.
  • In the ’50s, for example, most cabin-crew members wore fitted blazers and modest, knee-length skirts.
  • By the late 1960s, airline uniforms looked like stylish mod designs.
  • Since the early 2000s, many airlines have made their uniforms more simple and streamlined.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Today, flight attendants often wear business-casual designs in classic colour combinations of navy blue, red, black, and white.

But over the past century, uniforms for cabin-crew members have evolved alongside fashion trends. In the ’60s, for example, many airlines rolled out garments inspired by stylish mod designs, like sheath minidresses with stand-away collars and go-go boots.

By the 2000s, flight-attendant uniforms were more simple and streamlined, with some airlines prioritising comfort over flair.

Below, see the evolution of flight-attendant uniforms for eight of today’s biggest airlines, from United to Qantas.

In the 1950s, flight attendants for American Airlines wore crisp navy-blue blazers and skirts.

Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesA 1958 photo shows an American Airlines flight attendant serving food.

The uniform featured a single-breasted jacket with three buttons and a tapered waist, worn over a white shirt with notch lapels and a knee-length skirt.

The airline’s uniform got a trendy update in the late ’60s.

Susan Wood/Getty ImagesThree women model uniforms for American Airlines in September 1967.

The uniforms incorporated the colours of the American flag in several ways. The outfit itself – a mod-style sheath dress with a thick stand-away collar – came in red, white, and blue. It could be worn with or without a red, white, and blue belt.

In a 1967 campaign for the new uniforms, models accessorized the ensemble with white low-heeled pumps and red, white, and blue hair bows.

Currently, American Airlines flight attendants wear simple black dresses or suits with red and blue accents.

American AirlinesTwo flight attendants show off American Airlines’ current uniforms.

The menswear option for cabin-crew members is comprised of a black blazer, black pants, light-blue button-up, and blue tie.

The womeswear option is a black short-sleeved dress with buttons down the front and a fitted silhouette, paired with a red-and-blue scarf tied around the neck.

In 1959, Qantas flight attendants wore belted short-sleeved dresses.

Barry Newberry/Fairfax Media via Getty ImagesA Qantas flight attendant wears the airline’s uniform in June 1959.

The midi dress featured three buttons in the front and shawl lapels. Qantas crew members wore the outfit with a matching pillbox-like hat, as well as dark-coloured heels and gloves.

From 1971 to 1974, the airline’s uniforms were bright blue.

Trevor James Robert Dallen/Fairfax Media via Getty ImagesTwo Qantas flight attendants model the airline’s uniforms in August 1971.

Crew members wore blue shift dresses over white short-sleeved turtlenecks or button-up shirts. The uniform also came with a matching blue jacket and blue hat with a red stripe in the middle.

Today, Qantas flight attendants wear belted navy-blue dresses with ruby-red and fuchsia stripes.

James D. Morgan/Getty ImagesTwo women wear Qantas’ modern uniforms in November 2013.

The airline’s current uniforms were revealed in 2013 and launched the following year. The modern designs are the work of Australian designerMartin Grant.

In the late 1950s, Delta flight attendants wore fitted navy-blue blazers with large round buttons.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesA Delta flight attendant chats with a passenger in January 1958.

The jacket was worn over a collared white shirt and paired with a navy-blue skirt, heels, and pillbox hat.

According to Delta, this particular uniform was worn by flight attendants in the winter from 1957 to 1959.

The airline debuted a new uniform collection designed by Richard Tyler in 2006.

Noam Galai/Getty ImagesDelta ambassadors show off the airline’s iconic red and midnight-blue uniforms.

From 2006 to 2018, Delta cabin-crew members wore either a red wrap dress with a cinched waist or a midnight-blue suit with a white button-up and red tie.

Delta rolled out new uniforms, and a new colour scheme, in May 2018.

Dustin Downing/Getty ImagesDelta flight attendants wear the airline’s current uniform in May 2018.

Designed by Zac Posen, the uniforms feature a bright-purple colour called Passport Plum, as well as five other “wholly reimagined hues” including Cruising Cardinal, Groundspeed Graphite, Travelling Thistle, and Skyline Slate.

Posen’s collection includes a short-sleeved purple sheath dress with a glossy winged collar and a three-piece grey suit with a plum-coloured tie and pocket square.

From 1967 to 1970, the uniform for Japan Airlines flight attendants included sky-blue blazers and matching knee-length skirts.

Kyodo News/Getty ImagesA woman models the airline’s fourth-generation uniform at a 2017 ceremony.

The uniform was designed by Hanae Mori and came with white gloves, black low-heeled pumps, and a rounded sky-blue hat.

Then, for most of the ’70s, cabin-crew members sported dark-blue minidresses.

Kyodo News/Getty ImagesA woman models the airline’s fifth-generation uniform at a 2017 ceremony.

Also designed by Hanae Mori, the uniform was worn with a glossy red belt and dark-blue shoes – both of which featured large red discs reminiscent of Japan’s flag.

Flight attendants accessorized the ensemble with white gloves, black tights, a blue and red scarf, and a wide, rounded hat.

Since 2013, Japan Airlines flight attendants have worn crisp uniforms designed by Keita Maruyama.

Kyodo News/Getty ImagesThese are the airline’s tenth generation of uniforms.

The collection includes a classic black suit, a tailored jacket with gold buttons, an A-line skirt, and a belted short-sleeved dress.

United’s first uniform for flight attendants was forest-green and grey.

Bettmann/Getty ImagesEllen Church was the first female attendant employed by the airline in 1930.

According to The United Airlines Historical Foundation, the ensemble consisted of a pale-grey blouse, double-breasted wool blazer, and pleated calf-length skirt – all worn under a matching cape with a collar.

Flight attendants accessorized the uniform with a forest-green beret.

From 1968 to 1970, United flight attendants wore a collection of mod-style minidresses designed by Jean Louis.

Dean Conger/Corbis via Getty ImagesA United flight attendant wears the airline’s coral-red uniform in May 1968.

Made of double-knit wool, the shift dress featured short sleeves and a thick white stripe around the neckline and down the front. The item came in four combinations of the colours “Hawaiian Sunset” (coral red), “Maliblue” (navy blue), and “Miami Sands” (off-white), according to SFO Museum.

Attendants wore the dress with a structured military-style hat, according to The United Airlines Historical Foundation.

Currently, the airline’s uniforms are contemporary and business casual.

United AirlinesUnited debuted this collection in 2013.

Introduced in 2013, the collection includes black trousers, skirts, sweaters, vests, and blazers with two silver lines on the sleeves.

Womenswear options include two styles of dresses: a black sheath dress and a royal-blue sheath dress with black stripe detailing.

The airline will roll out new garments for flight attendants in late 2020.

United AirlinesUnited is also debuting a new colour scheme.

Designed by Tracy Reese, and made in partnership with Brooks Brothers and Carhartt, the modern collection features new colours like Pacific Blue (bright teal), Premium Purple (plum), and Atlantic Amethyst (bright purple).

In the late ’50s, flight attendants for Scandinavian Airlines wore classic navy-blue uniforms.

Peter Stackpole/Life Magazine/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty ImagesA 1958 photo of three Scandinavian Airlines flight attendants on a layover in NYC.

The ensemble included a collared off-white shirt, fitted jacket with four large gold buttons, calf-length pleated skirt, and structured baker boy-style cap.

The airline released a new summer uniform in 1967.

David Reed/Corbis via Getty ImagesA woman models the summer uniform Scandinavian Airlines used in the late ’60s.

According to Scandinavian Traveller, Scandinavian Airlines’ online magazine, the uniform was designed by French couture house Carven, which was acquired by China’s Icicle Fashion Group in October 2018.

Today, Scandinavian Airlines flight attendants wear navy-blue outfits with royal-blue accents.

Scandinavian Airlines SystemThe airline last updated its uniforms in 2016.

The collection was designed by Ted Bernhardtz and includes colourful patterned scarves, which Amandah Andersson made exclusively for the airline.

Southwest Airlines had trendy mod-style uniforms in the late ’60s.

Alan Band/Keystone/Getty ImagesA 1968 photo of three flight attendants for Southwest Airlines.

Flight attendants wore orange T-shirts and red short shorts or orange minidresses, accessorized with thick white belts and matching go-go-style boots.

In 2017, the airline rolled out its first new uniforms in 20 years.

Southwest AirlinesThe collection features a colour palette of black, grey, blue, and red.

Womenswear options include a black shift dress with blue and red stripes and a grey shift dress with black and red stripes. The menswear option includes a black blazer, grey vest, grey trousers, and red tie.

In the late ’60s, Aeroflot uniforms included eye-catching hats.

Sovfoto/UIG via Getty ImagesTwo Aeroflot flight attendants wear the airline’s uniform in 1966.

The tall, structured cap was rounded on the top, forming a distinct, crescent-like shape. Cabin-crew members wore the hat with fitted blazers and skirts.

Two decades later, the airline’s flight attendants wore classic navy-blue ensembles. via Getty ImagesFour Aeroflot flight attendants pose for a photo in September 1985.

In the mid-’80s, Aeroflot’s uniforms still included a unique hat with a rounded top.

Today, Aeroflot flight attendants can be easily recognised, thanks to their vintage-inspired, bright-red outfits.

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