Monday, August 16, 2021

Interview with Jeannine Moyle on Flight Attendant Fashions

Past-President Jeannine Moyle was recently featured in an Arizona Republic article about her time as a flight attendant 1960-1973. Flight attendant fashion was once a big business Arizona Republic 8/15/2021
Even before we had to wear masks, few people would describe commercial flying as glamorous. But an exhibit at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport highlights a time when many passengers did feel that way. Sit back, relax and enjoy the trip. Flight attendants’ view Very personable with high-class service. That’s how Phoenix resident Jeannie Moyle recalls her experience as a flight attendant from 1960 to 1973. “People were dressing up to come to fly,” she said. Including flight attendants. The ’60s and ’70s brought colorful uniforms often designed by big names in the fashion world. Oleg Cassini, the personal stylist for former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, also designed the mustard brown skirt and teal jacket that was part of Moyle’s uniform for Airwest Airlines from 1969 to 1971. “It was made of a crinkly kind of waffle feel to the fabric,” she said. “Of course it would not wrinkle, it was cool.” Moyle’s uniform is on display inside Sky Harbor Terminal 4, part of an exhibit: “Style in the Aisle: Mid-Century Airline Identity.” “Fares were set by the government at that time and it was all about competition and so did you want to fly the friendly skies or go up, up and away,” said Gary Martelli, Phoenix Airport Museum director. “So yeah, it was definitely about identity.” Service and uniforms In the early ’70s, Western Airlines christened itself the champagne airline by offering free bubbly to every passenger over 21. There’s a full bottle in the exhibit — right next to Continental Airlines porcelain serving dishes for first class and an image that could make even a rushed traveler stop and look: an attendant carving and serving roast beef from the aisle. Moyle didn’t serve roast beef on fine china — her airline had one class service with all passengers getting full meals on plastic trays. “You know, if we had a delay with departure, sometimes they’d have to take those meals off and put fresh meals on. It was always warm at the time we served the meal,” she said. After landing, Moyle would kick off her shoes — and put on high heels. It was part of the job description and uniform. “You wore gloves whenever you were in public, you got off the plane and you wore white gloves,” she said. “And we all had this identical handbag that we were carrying and we were wearing pumps of the same style, everything was coordinated.” Had Moyle worked for Pacific Southwest Airlines, known as PSA, she might’ve donned go-go boots in the ’60s or bright pink and orange uniforms featuring miniskirts in the ’70s. “They were so short they had to wear shorts underneath them so they were able to bend over,” said Haley Hinds, art specialist with the airport museum. Some Trans World Airlines attendants wore paper uniforms. Yes, paper. Designed by Elisa Daggs who was known for her “throwaway fashions,” the dresses were worn once before being discarded. They were part of a 1968 advertising campaign promoting international flights. A metallic gold mini dress was supposed to give off a French cafĂ© vibe. A woman wearing an Olde English uniform was described in ads as a “wench” and a Manhattan penthouse-theme featured hostess pajamas. Martelli said themed-flights included foreign music, foreign magazines and paper dolls wearing those paper dresses. “On this campaign, in this brochure it says, if you like what the flight attendant is wearing, you could also order this for your secretary,” he said. “Very cringey,” said Hinds. Also “cringey” to 28-year-old Hinds were the rules for flight attendants back then. “You had to be under 32 years old. You could never have been married, you weren’t able to be divorced and you couldn’t have any kids,” she said. “And you had weekly weigh-ins and girdle requirements.” As a supervisor, Moyle recalled uncomfortable conversations. “Course they all knew if they came in, we had a scale right there in the office. Girls would have to sit down on the scale and they knew if they had to lose weight or not,” she said. “But most often, you know the gals that came into that job they were aware that they had to be in their best appearance, you know.” Safety first Despite the industry’s emphasis on looks, safety was the priority. Moyle said they underwent training and test- ing every six months. “We took an airplane that was off-duty and it was mostly at nighttime and they put off a smoke bomb and you’d have to evacuate a full load of passengers,” she said. “For overseas travel, some of the gals they have to be able to work in the swimming pool, to be able to stay afloat to pull someone out or adjust a life vest. It’s some pretty good rigid training.” Two major movements in the ’70s impacted airline service: the push for gender equality in workplaces and universities, and airline deregulation. As government control over fares and routes was phased out, the market determined prices. Deregulation was meant to increase competition so more people had access, not just the business traveler or the wealthy. Whether flying today is affordable to the masses depends on individual situ- ations. But for those fortunate enough to stretch their legs while dining on lobster, breathing in roses while freshening up in the powder room and mingling in the lounge, the ’60s and ’70s probably felt like the golden age of flying. The exhibition, “Style in the Aisle: Mid-Century Airline Identity,” is located at Terminal 4, level 2 near ticketing through Nov. 28, 2021. Christina Estes is a senior field correspondent for KJZZ. This story was produced by KJZZ and appears here through a collaboration between The Arizona Republic/ and KJZZ. Hear the full story at