Press Release

Flight Patterns—Airline Uniforms from the 1960s–70s


 Charles Schuler 
Director of Marketing & Communications 
San Francisco International Airport
(650) 821-5031

Flight Patterns—Airline Uniforms from the 1960s–70s 
Inaugural exhibition in new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 gallery features bright and colorful flight attendant uniforms from the past

SAN FRANCISCO — Women’s fashion underwent a transformation during the 1960s and 70s, driven by remarkable social change and a revolutionary youth culture. As fashion designers experimented with new materials and styles on the runway, airlines introduced fantastic and daring flight attendant uniforms to their cabins. During the 1960s, conservative-yet-elegant flight attendant suits evolved into ensembles that mirrored the fun-loving, free-spirit of the time. Influenced by Mod fashion and other trendy styles, these vibrant uniforms celebrated the allure of the jet-setting flight attendant. By the end of the decade, flight attendant uniforms became cool and chic rather than regimented and conservative.

The impact of trends and modern style on airline uniforms continued into the 1970s. Synthetic fabrics in vivid colors and striking patterns showcased the glamour of the “Polyester Decade.” Airline fashion in the 1970s took note of the growing women’s liberation movement, evidenced by forward-thinking ensembles that included pants—a first for female flight attendant wear. However, color palettes became more traditional towards the end of the decade as shades of brown and navy blue were reintroduced. This exhibition features some of the wilder uniforms made between 1967–74 for Braniff International Airways, Northwest Orient Airlines, Pan American World Airways, Trans World Airlines, and United Air Lines. 

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Flight Patterns—Airline Uniforms from the 1960s–70s is located post-security in Terminal 1 of the San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to ticketed passengers from May 25, 2021 – March 13, 2022.

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