February 16, 2012

Grooming tips for the 1950s flight attendant

Cheerful Thursday morning greetings, my sweet dears, thank you all very much for your lovely, supportive comments on my last post regarding our upcoming move. Today marks the start of the official one week countdown until the big day itself arrives.

As you can imagine, this week has been a three-ring circus of activity, with scarcely a second for my husband and I to stop and catch our breath. Though we're certainly teaming up for some tasks, generally speaking (during these last few pre-move days), he's tending to jobs that need to be done outside the house, and I'm going at the speed of light inside the home.

Even at my busiest though, it's hard not to steal away a few quick moments to recharge my batteries and uncover delightful vintage images and inspiration (maybe it's just me, but the day doesn't quite feel complete if I have devoted at least part of it to my love of the past).

Earlier this week, I spotted a recently uploaded image on one of my favourite old school image filled Flickr streams, that made me smile ear-to-ear. Not only was it bursting with yesteryear charm, but it was beyond fitting, given that I'll be zipping through the air on a plane myself next week.

These days the rules and requirements involved with becoming flight attendant are significantly different then they were during the earlier decades of aviation (and, over all, this is a good thing, because there's much less discrimination involved with the candidate selection process and flight attendants themselves have more rights within the scope of their job).

However, I'm always a sucker for a great list of vintage "dos and don'ts" when it comes to any profession, and as the list in the image below clearly demonstrates, there was no shortage of such points for airline stewardesses (as they were often called back then) to adhere to during the 1950s.

{A lovely vintage flight attendant from 1957, smartly attired as members of her profession were required to look during the golden era of airline travel. Image via alsis35 on Flickr.}

From the expectation that one would (or perhaps had to) wear a "well fitted girdle" to the fact that platinum nail polish was out the question, it's fascinating to look back at this list of dos and don't and think about what airline hostesses of days gone by had to comply with in order to keep their jobs.

I'm certainly no expert on the requirements of being a modern day flight attendant, but I think it's safe to say - while standards regarding certain elements of one's appearance are still in place - the rules have relaxed substantially (for better or worse, depending on your own take on this topic).

Like many of us, I long for the days of airline travel when passengers and staff alike were better attired (I for one always dress up to a certain extent when I'm traveling by plane, but have observed that few other passengers tend to any more, save perhaps for the occasional businessman in a suit and tie or well-to-do lady jet setting off to some exotic location), and perhaps (as I like to imagine at least) friendlier.

Long gone are the fabulous forties, fifties, and early sixties (think Pan Am era) though, and with them a certain kind of airline travel glamour that will likely never be recaptured again outside of a Hollywood studio.

Nevertheless, when I board our flight next Thursday, I'll be thinking about old school flight attendants and passengers alike. Daydreaming that perhaps we’ll somehow fly through a warp in the space-time continuum and transport back to the mid-twentieth century.

Ridiculously wishful thinking, I know, but hey, a rather knackered vintage loving gal can always hope! Smile


  1. It's facinating that they dictate about lingerie and shaved arm pits- who would ever know? :)

  2. Delicate, flattering make-up has long since been forgotten!
    Jessica, if you visit my blog I have an award for you :)

  3. Off on a slight tangent but when my Mum married my Dad who was in the R.A.F. She was given a list of things she could and couldn't wear, places she could and couldn't go and things she could and couldn't do! That was the early 60's. It seems so alien doesn't it?

    1. When I first started working in the very late 80s/early 90s they still had dress codes for work, mostly for women that they had to be well groomed, and that they had to wear underwear! They also expressed a preference for women in dresses/skirts over pants and pantyhose was a must, no bare legs or you'd be sent home. Casual Friday was khakis for guys with a button shirt and a more casual look for women, but still skirts/dresses over pants and proper undergarments! No jeans! Now if someone shows up in pants that aren't jeans people usually ask Who died? Oh well.

  4. I just loved "That Likable Look"! What a fun find! Now, if we could all put back on our hats and gloves....


    Second Hand Roze

    Prayers for your health and a safe move!

  5. Jessica, where are you moving to? Come live near me! I need some vintage girl friends! :)

  6. My husband and I are actually moving in the next couple weeks too! We live in Vancouver BC right now, but we really want to buy a vintage house. Considering the average price in Van is close to a million for an old home, we are moving an hour outside the city. Im such a city girl though, so it will be major culture shock!

  7. Jess - That's so exciting. The Okanagen is such a pretty place to live...I lived in Kelowna for awhile, but I think I like Penticton better! I also remember scoring some sweet vintage dresses in the thrift shops there! If we do any vacationing in your hood this summer I will have to let you know! :)

  8. My stepmother was a stout 5 foot tall woman who had short jet black hair and always wore bright red lipstick, red fingernails and white beads and earrings. She believed in dressing up and wearing makeup, string of white pearl beads, white pearl earrings. She almost always wore black crinoline or straight taffeta dresses with seamed stockings and black patent high heels. She would also put on long black satin gloves along with a black funeral hat with a black veil hang down. I always liked what she wore and her clothes happened to be my same size. I loved her strapless heavy “Black Diamond Opera” full length open bottom double zipper black girdle which was an “all-in-one” corselette that had four large metal garters per leg and satin tassels that hung over both front and back of each garter. I also loved her black zipping slips that had an accordion lace hem, lace in the bodice and lace at the breasts. As a teenage girl in my late teens, I was entranced with her outfits were for several reasons. I guess the first was because I often heard a deep throated wicked sound of a long large metal zipper, or often two zippers, as my stepmother zipped her vintage girdle of a morning. I was emotionally hypnotized as she would slowly zip them up and down multiple times and I could clearly hear then from my room. She had said in the past that she liked the sound of zippers, the rustle of crinolines and slips against the girdles and the sound that nylon silk stockings made. When she walked, her seamed beige or black nylon silk stockings made a wicked swishing sound. The combination of those sounds left me almost breathless and my heart pounding when I heard it so I just wanted to experience what she had felt wearing such vintage garments. Just like her, prior to slipping into the girdle, I also applied red lipstick, already had red finger nails, and also donned one of her strands of white beads and white dangling earrings. As an older woman, I still love the feel of fine vintage lingerie. Feel free to e-mail me directly with your thoughts or questions at csarceneaux@outlook.com....Cheers! From Carol Sue