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My Britannia Airways cabin crew uniform from the 80’s and 90’s

Something a little different from me today. A few weeks ago, whilst searching through boxes in the attic to find old family photographs to share with my brother who was visiting from Australia, I came across a box of my old cabin crew uniforms.

Whilst I realise that this is a sewing blog, I can’t deny that fashion and style is all part of what I love, and I wondered if you would like to take a peek at some of the various different uniforms that I wore for the 11 years that I flew for Britannia Airways from 1987 – 1998. If this isn’t your interest then don’t worry, normal sewing blogs will resume as usual after this one.

Our uniforms were always made up of a ‘Summer uniform’ which was worn from May to October and a ‘Winter uniform’ to be worn from November to April.

My first Summer uniform, worn when I started flying in 1987 was a red white and blue pleated blouse with a double row of red buttons which ran down into the pleated skirt. This was worn with a red belt with the Britannia Airways logo and a skinny neck tie. Shoes were navy heeled court shoes for outdoor, to be changed into flat cabin shoes once the aircraft doors were closed. If you were really feeling fancy you could wear red heeled court shoes with this Summer uniform (at your own expense) how very 1980’s!



The tabard is quite awful isn’t it, but certainly tied in with the whole red white and blue Britannia theme. No expense was clearly spared with the dymo name badge and rather scruffy sew on badge! Oh dear!



The Winter uniform was another similar red, white and blue blouse- slightly different print to the Summer fabric design, and a big old neck bow which I thought was fabulous at the time. A navy blue skirt with inverted pleat and single breasted jacket completed this look. Navy tights could be worn with the Winter uniform.



The hat. What can I say about this hat. I hated it and always felt that it was too small for me. Oh well. Hats were worn at all times with uniform and could only be removed once all passengers were on board and the doors closed.

Brit 3a
Forgive the ‘grainy’ quality of this. I was only 19 here, fresh out of training school in 1987.
Brit 4a
The class of April 1987. I’m front row, 5th from the left.

After quite a short while flying with the airline, probably only a year or two, the uniform changed, and the company went away from the traditional red white and blue and brought in some more neutral colours. The Summer uniform was a striped blouse with matching pleated skirt and a neutral belt. A floppy neck bow in matching fabric was affectionately referred to as the ‘dead bat’ and I remember the white collar was a magnet for foundation make-up stains.


The tabard was a little better (as far as tabard’s go – I mean, is a tabard ever going to look nice)? You could remove your ‘dead bat’ if you wanted to when wearing your tabard.


Brit 1a
Rear galley en-route to the Falkland Islands in 1990 or 1991. Such a privilege to visit these beautiful islands (and Ascension Island on the way there and back). For a short while during the ‘original’ Gulf War, our civilian airline was used to transport the regular change-over of military personnel between the UK and the lower risk Falkland Islands whilst the usual military personnel aircraft used for transporting troops on this route were being used in the dangerous Gulf zones.

The Winter uniform was made up with the same blouse and paired with a slim navy blue skirt and a military style jacket with button details. It also had a reversible belt.

The hat was an improvement on the last one!



Brit 2a
I remember this well. This was taken in Singapore on Christmas Eve. We were just about to fly to Cairns,Australia, landing on Christmas Day. I had never been away from my family at Christmas before this and whilst the Australia trips were very much sought after because they were well paid and involved several days off in the Middle East, Singapore and various places in Australia, I missed my family so much on this trip.

Roll on a few more years and the next uniform was a dramatic change in colours when the company introduced a vibrant yellow into the mix.

Sadly I don’t seem to have my Summer uniform. This was a double breasted mock wrap dress made from the same yellow patterned fabric as the Winter blouse shown below.


The Winter uniform consisted of this yellow blouse, a matching drapey neck scarf, and pencil skirt with off centre button detail. The jacket featured this pleated ‘wrap’ detail meeting with three off centre buttons. A red hat this time.


Again the tabard. Hmmmm. *shakes head*


The final uniform that I wore I don’t have any more. This was a uniform that was designed by Elizabeth Emmanuel (Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer is her claim to fame) and was much hyped and quite expensive by all accounts. Thus when I finished flying in 1998 and left to have a baby, everything had to be returned. Sad times, but I will pop a photo below to give you an idea.


I hope that you have enjoyed taking a peek at some of my old uniforms. I definitely look back at my flying career with fondness now. Some good times, some bad, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Well maybe those tabards .. Ha!

Take care, doors to manual, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x



20 thoughts on “My Britannia Airways cabin crew uniform from the 80’s and 90’s

  1. Very interesting! (I think I’m glad that there are no pics of my work attire during that period!)

    1. Thank you, I know what you mean – everything from that era seems rather embarassing now! x

  2. Very nice. Did they give you the coat and purses in the last photo to use too?

    1. Thank you. Yes they did, what a shame I don’t seem to have kept these at all for any of my unforms. Coats, shoes (outdoor heels and indoor flats), purses and cabin bags were all provided with each uniform x

  3. This is interesting and makes a refreshing change. I am very glad that you decided to share.
    Thank you

    1. Thanks Lyn, that’s lovely of you to say. I always like to see something different, but not sure if everybody feels the same. Glad you enjoyed x

  4. With tabards like that you wouldn’t have looked out of place on “Dinnerladies”! Seriously, I’ve really enjoyed reading this bit of niche fashion history, thanks.

    1. This is quite simply the best comment I have ever read!!! Haha!! You are SO right!! XX

  5. Thanks, really enjoyed this post. I consider it sewing related, and many of us were in awe of the glamorous air crew.

    1. Thanks Pat, sadly not that glamorous most of the time!! x

  6. This is really interesting, I quite taken with the navy pencil skirt with off centre buttons. All the neck tie business is very fabric blingy!

    1. I’m so pleased that you found it interesting, thank you for taking time to comment x

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your uniforms with us Kathy, I always wanted to be an air hostess and so I loved sharing your trip down memory lane! I worked in a bank in the ā€˜80ā€™s, and I still remember how much I loved my navy blue work suit with the most enormous shoulder pads!

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for your lovely comment -I’m imagining your bank uniform with the enormous shoulder pads! Ha! We had big hair and big shoulder pads back then didn’t we. I worked for 3 years for an insurance company before I started flying – no uniform, but dull as dishwater – so I think that was what pushed me to find a job that might be a little more exciting! x

  8. Oh my goodness, thank you for posting this! I loved reading it, it’s so interesting to see.

    1. Hi Lynne, thank you, I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! x

  9. An interesting twist on looking back at fashion. Had no idea you used to work as cabin crew.

    1. Hi Ann, it’s a bit different this one isn’t it, glad to have left some of that 80’s and 90’s fashion behind! x

  10. I loved this post, Kathy! I’m amazed that you still have all of your old uniforms- a little social history exhibit in your loft! šŸ˜‚ I did chuckle at the ‘dead bat’ reference. I remember a brightly patterned viscose, very fitted shirt dress with a gored skirt from the hips that I wore with a big black floppy bow in the late 80s. Oh my goodness, I thought I was the bee’s knees in that outfit! We live and learn…šŸ˜Š

    1. Ha! It was always all about the big bow/scarf or whatever type of neck adornment wasn’t it! Oh dear, but maybe that is why I love making clothes with bows, ties and ribbons still to this day! XX

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