When I travelled to France earlier this year, I remember being in the airport and thinking how disappointed I always am to see people in their worst state – decked out in pajamas in the name of comfort while flying (overrated). I am a firm believer that one should dress her best when travelling, but alas I am a party of one when it comes to this belief. Until that magical night in the international terminal security line when time stood still and in walked the Etihad Airways flight crew. I’ve never seen anything like it. Today let’s talk about airline style!
Back to the airport – we all collectively gasped as at least 25 gorgeous human beings in a perfect line breezed right past us mere mortals, dressed to the nines in the most beautiful uniforms I’ve ever seen in my life. They looked good – and they knew it. Brown leather long gloves. Dark purple wool hats and matching lipstick. Perfect hair and pencil skirts. Coordinated handbags and trench coats. Swoon.
After I managed to pick my jaw up off the ground and wipe the tears of admiration from my eyes, I ran right up to one of the women and begged her to tell me what airline she worked for. “Etihad,” she said – the word rolling off her tongue like glitter and bubbles and everything beautiful. “You look amazing,” I managed to push out of my mouth, blushing and in full-on girl crush mode. She was the essence of confidence, cool, grace, beauty, poise and professionalism.
It was in that moment that I saw the true power of an amazing outfit – power for the woman who wears it and power over the people who see her. We all wanted to know who she was, why she was there, and how we could be like her. And I’m quite sure we all wished we’d worn our best to the airport that day, too.
When I got settled at my gate, I looked up every image and piece of info I could find on Etihad’s uniforms. I was obsessed. Clearly these outfits had the desired effect! Here’s what I learned:
- They were designed by Italian designer Ettore Bilotta as an homage to the “heyday of international air travel.”
- They were debuted nearly one year ago in Abu Dhabi at the Etihad Airways hangar on the same night they unveiled the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380 – which has an onboard penthouse residence.
- The colors are based on the Etihad brand palette with brown as the base color, deep purple for cabin crew and burnt orange for ground crew. Even their makeup is curated to match the uniforms.
- In order to apply for a job as an Etihad Airways flight attendant, “personal appearance, image and style should be excellent.”
What I also learned is that more and more airlines are updating their uniforms to be more stylish and flattering for the body. Take a look at Virgin and Qantas below for some other examples (and more Etihad photos – swoon again). But more than being stylish, I think these refined pieces add a layer of professionalism to the employees and allows them to command more respect when dealing with customers. In turn, we end up taking the brands more seriously because they go as far as to make sure even the uniforms practice what they preach. I love it!
Why am I sharing this with you today? For no other reason than it was simply a magical style moment I experienced that brought me joy, taught me something new and renewed my commitment to get dressed when I fly. Maybe it will do the same for you!
Runway images for Etihad from The National publication. Photo shoot images for Etihad by Norman Jean Roy, sourced from the Etihad Airways and Ettore Bilotta websites. Virgin images from Telegraph UK and Australian Business Traveler. Qantas image also sourced from Australian Business Traveler.