Dear Project Runway Producers,
Have I got a challenge for you! With the premiere of the new television show Pan Am airing September 25th on ABC, there’s been a lot of talk about airlines in the news lately. One can’t help but compare stewardesses of yesterday to flight attendants today, and yet the job rarely resembles what it once was so many years ago. Long gone are the days of glamour when stewardesses had strict age, weight and height requirements, and only averaged 18 months on the job. Nowadays flight attendants are allowed to be married, grow old, and gain weight – just like the rest of society!
Image is important to an airline. This is why most airlines have established very strict grooming standards flight attendants must abide by. I’ve been told passengers have more confidence in an airline when its employees look good. That makes sense considering when I look good, I feel good, and that in turn has a positive affect on passengers. But in America we come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors, opposed to our foreign counterparts who are hired because they are a specific size, shape and color. This is why it’s more difficult for US carriers to design a uniform that looks good on everyone.
Since 9/11 airlines have had to reduce expenses to stay in business. I’ve been working as a flight attendant for sixteen years, so I’ve experienced first hand just how much travel has changed in the last decade. Food was the first thing to go, followed by magazines, pillows and blankets. Even a few colleagues and a couple of airlines disappeared. This might explain why our polyester uniforms are no longer quite as impressive as they once were when air travel was considered a luxury and only the wealthy could afford to fly. Needless to say our uniforms have to be cheap enough to outfit tens of thousands of employees.
What most people don’t realize is that flight attendants today work ten times harder than ever before. A 12-14 hour work day followed by an 8 hour layover is not uncommon. Nor is working three back to back trips in a row. This adds up to a lot of wear and tear on a uniform in a short period of time. That being said, durability should play a major factor in our uniform design. Comfort would also be nice. Remember being able to move, stretch, bend and work in a cabin that alternates between hot and cold is very important.
The pencil thin, girdle wearing stewardesses of yesterday have evolved. Even so we, too, would love nothing more than to walk through the airport terminal with the same pride they felt by wearing a distinguished uniform that is fashionable, but also age appropriate and practical to work in. Why not take on this challenge for those of us who work the not so friendly skies and design stylish coordinating uniform pieces that are affordable and comfortable and will look good on your daughter, son, wife, brother, mother or father. Not an easy task, I know. This could be your biggest challenge yet. Think you can do it? Millions of flight attendants would be forever grateful if you could at least give it a try.
Photo courtesy of JFithian