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Come Fly With Me! Pan Am + Vintage Airlines


image: DannDC

I’m obsessed with vintage travel. I love every thing about it—old suitcases, vintage travel posters, retro airports and I love love love old stewardess uniforms (yeah yeah, I know…“flight attendants”). The other night Miss Dottie and I were out for dinner with The Dames (our retro supper club) and she mentioned that there was a new TV show on the books called Pan Am—all about a group of stewardesses in the 1960s. While I know this show is clearly pandering to the Mad Men craze, I can’t help but say, lawdy I’m excited!


I’ll post the trailer for the show at the end of this post, but first I wanted to share with you some of my favorite old skool airlines!

Back in the day flying was much more glamorous. Taking a trip was an event. People were genuinely impressed with the miracle of flight (“Holy smokes! We’re FLYING through the air in a metal ship!”) Everyone got dressed up and wore “traveling outfits” when they went on vacation. You ate food on real china with real silverware. You didn’t have to pay for drinks. You were a jetsetter! And stewardesses were like super models, tall, chic in stylish uniforms. Becoming a “stew” was considered quite prestigeous…and dating one? Well it was the ultimate status symbol.


Of course I know it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The ladies had to maintain strict weight requirements and “grooming standards” in order to fly—not to mention leering drunkards pinching their pert lil booties. But at its most basic, it was a pretty glamorous lifestyle. My favorite “vintage” airlines were Braniff, Pan Am and PSA. Lemme show you why.

BRANIFF

First up, Braniff. These guys had it going on. In 1965 they famously hired graphic designer Alexander Girard to revamp their brand. He launched a campaign called “The End of the Plain Plane,” which introduced  a bold color scheme that was applied to everything from the lounges and ticket counters to the aircrafts themselves. Check out the fleet of “Jellybean 707s” in their brilliant candy colors!

Of course the other reason I love them is that Girard convinced top execs to hire Italian designer Emilio Pucci to redesign all the Air Hostess uniforms. Pucci, as we all know, is the master of the colorful, crazy print. He revamped their uniforms in his iconic patterns, adding a flair to air travel that had never been seen before.

One of his most infamous creations was the space bubble helmet (officially called a “rain dome” by Braniff) which protected your coiffure in windy/rainy weather. He also came up with a multi layered, inter-changeable wardrobe, which was dubbed the “air strip” because flight attendants would peel off various parts of the uniform (jackets, scarves etc) during flight to mix it up. Oooh lala!


images: BRANIFF

In the 70s they even had Alexander Calder paint a design on the planes to make them even more whimsical and fun. Oh Braniff, how we miss you!

PAN AM


Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) might not have had the space bubble (although that turban up there is prettttty darn close) they DID have what I think is quite possibly the best logo in aviation. This iconic airline was known a pioneer in transocean and intercontinental flying—they travelled to every continent except Antarctica. They are also credited with numerous innovations including the Jumbo Jet.

I have many happy memories of flying via Pan Am to Europe with my parents in the 70s. For some reason it always represented the ultimate in classy travel to me. It’s no wonder that they are the topic of this new TV series!


image: pollymcmillan


images: PAN AM

Back in the 90s I scored a Pan Am flight bag at the thrift store and its always been one of my prized possessions.I went through a phase where I tried to dress in a “60s stewardess” inspired way—neck scarves and tailored little dressies. Ahhh, those were the days!

PSA (or Pacific Southwest Airline)

Let’s face it folks, PSA was the total swingin’ 60s/70s airline. I discovered their crazy, colorful stewardess uniforms many years ago and was forever hooked. Mini skirts with hot pants and sassy go-go boots?? Sign me up! From 1970-1976 the ladies wore these amazing orange and pink or red and pink ensembles:



images: PSA

 


And one bonus shot, from a vintage Southwest Airlines crew. WOW. Look at those lace up go-go boots! A far cry form the khaki shorts and polo shirts flight attendants wear these days, eh?

I know we’re all about “being comfortable” these days. Most travelers wear sweats and sneaks or (shudder) shorts and  flip flops. We charged for everything from peanuts to water. We bemoan the delays and try to cram colossal rolling suitcases into the tiny overhead bins. But every now and then I’ll spy an older couple on a flight, beautifully dressed, sitting serenely. And I know they remember. To them, air travel is still a miracle of modern science. An exciting adventure. I always try to catch their eye and smile, as if to say “Hey! I remember too.”


image: julia davila
*ding*
You are now free to move around the cabin. Or watch the trailer for Pan Am. Hee.


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Posted in Best of Alix, Vintage Photos, Vintage Pop Culture.

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21 Responses

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  1. pilgrim says

    oh i looooove all this. i forget, have i mentioned http://www.jumpseatbags.com/handbags.html to you before? they make handbags from vintage airline seat fabrics and seatbelts!

  2. Chantale says

    Ooh! I love this! I always make an effort to dress comfortably yet not shabby when flying as you get much better treatment that way. Especially when you’re flying stand-by! Everytime I see the Pan-Am logo and bags, I always remember my uncle and my dad, who used to love to travel! I also love those Pucci uniforms!

  3. OhSydney says

    LOVE THIS POST, makes me miss being a flight attendant! Thanks for the great pictures!

  4. Angela says

    LOVE this! Like you, I have the fondest memories of flying Pan Am as a kid back in the 70′s.

  5. Dottie says

    Oh, this is the best! I loved the sassy open-sided go go boots!

    I remember wanting to be a “stewardess” when I was a kid. For the uniforms, of course!

  6. Jenny (VintageSugarcube) says

    If I wasn’t at work (suppose to be working), I’d be hoooting and hollaring something loud and fierce right about now. I think this is my favorite post yet. I dress up as a vintage flight attendant every year for Halloween. And I had not heard about that show. Thanks for keeping me posted on everything hip and of-the-moment ladies. XO

  7. jeannie says

    I am just dying over this post! I love that you used to dress like a 60s flight attendant.

    I hope the show is good!

  8. gabrielle says

    fabulous, I dream of one day finding an old air hostess uniform in a thrift shop

  9. misha lulu says

    These images are so aweeeeeesome! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Miss cinti says

    Lordy. How short were those skirts. Imagine the eyeful you’d cop when they reached up into the overhead compartments!

  11. Allison says

    My mom has been a flight attendant with United since the early 70s, and she’ll be the first to tell you that style has gone out the window for passengers and crew alike (although, I did happen upon some jauntily-clad Alitalia flight attendants the other day at the airport…). Luckily for me, my mom held on to some of her old uniform stuff–like a standard-issue Coach handbag–that I get to rummage through the next time I’m at her house.

    Great post…thanks!

    • Alix says

      amazing!! i’d love to see some of her awesome stuff!

  12. Dina Q says

    Being a “Stewardess” myself, I LUV looking at the vintage photos..however the one you have posted (orange hotpants, white GoGo boots) as PSA and/or JetSpa is actually Southwest Airlines.

    • Alix says

      ooh good catch lady! you are totally right….i fixed it!

  13. Steve Lyons says

    Love your site!
    Worked for Piedmont and USAir in the 80s and early 90s.
    Can’t get too retro for me ;)

    Thanks! Steve

  14. Naomi says

    Today, I went to the beach front with my kids.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go
    back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. New Retro Shows Have Mad Men‘s Style But Not Its Bite « bann.me linked to this post on September 23, 2011

    [...] her stewardess cap cocked to the side, her cornflower blue eyes staring up at the heavens. “Come fly with me” was the classic campaign slogan. The cover fits right in with Don Draper’s own [...]

  2. It Was a Wonderful Year in Vintage: Part 3 – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on January 23, 2012

    [...] Long before the TV show Pan Am taxied down the runway, I was OBSESSED with vintage airline design. I even went through a brief period in the 90s where I tried dressing like a 60s stewardess. There is just something so amazingly chic about old air travel. This post was such fun, and one of our most popular. [...]

  3. The Colorful World of Alexander Girard. – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on April 4, 2012

    [...] designs always reflected his love of festive colours and patterns. You might remember this post I did a while back on airlines of the 1960s. Alexander Girard was responsible for revamping Braniff [...]

  4. El tren: de pasajero, la nostalgia | Sal y Azúcar linked to this post on January 7, 2013

    [...] modernkiddo.com via Astrid on [...]

  5. Flashback // The Colorful World of Alexander Girard. – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on July 18, 2013

    [...] his love of festive colours and patterns and influences from around the globe. You might remember this post I did a while back on airlines of the 1960s. Alexander Girard was responsible for revamping Braniff [...]



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