The mix and match uniform that was introduced in 1978 became the template for all furture Dan-Air uniforms. For this to be the case there had to be a winning formula. Clearly cornlower blue is a good aviation colour - Ask Ryanair and KLM. The print dress and blouse of 1978 was a disaster. Not in style but in making. As soon as it was washed the print ran and smeared black streaks on lemon, so it was quickly replaced with a plain blouse in the palest lemon . Outsized collars had gone out of fashion by 1980 and so a more practical blouse was introduced. The blouse and neckerchief that many not likse was replaced in the mid eighties with a small detail blouse that you can see later on in this page. Tanktops became and optional feature. In 1990 the, now all too familiar bowler was replaced by a generic rounded hat with low brim. The print on the blouse became more bold as did the neck tie. Male cabin crew joined the airline in 1987. Their double breasted blazer, grey trousers and white short sleeved shirt never altered. The tie with company red and blue stripes was natural choice. The final company uniform dropped the hat after trials were conducted giving crew the choice. As the hat was never really liked it wasn't much of a surprise when it was dropped. Enjoy your time on this page looking back at cabin crew uniforms.
Joan Murphy was one of the airline's first Chief Stewardesses. There are no colour photographs of any of the uniforms until 1965. It seems that this uniform was worn by all stewardesses (Dan-Air did not employ male stewards until 1987) The colour we are told was Navy Blue. The shirt was white cotton and the look was complemented by white gloves and black shoes.
Above is a picture of Miss. Elizabeth Allen who was with Dan-Air from 1958. She was maade chief stewardess in 1962 aged 26. She had studied at Jarrow Grammar School before attending finishing school at the Alliance Francais and the Sorbonne. When she took on the job she had 3,000 flying hours to her credit. She lived in Kensington.
Jean Broadhurst in 1965
The 1967/68 uniform was still in charcoal blue. The only feature that had been changed it. seems was the hat.
1969 saw the intorduction of a brand new uniform to premiere for the summer season of 1970. The airline had decided to have a look unique for the girls. We are not sure of the designer, but names put forward have been Mary Quant and Mansfield. This uniform was popular as it was very fashionable. Perhaps it was too fashionable as by the time it was replaced just three years later it had become out of style. The hat featured on some of the photographs may appear to look black, but was in fact a dark blue.
When the 1973 uniform was presented, it was saw the company revert to blue as the main colour. This time it was described as "French Blue" It can be seen above, worn by Airleen Levis. On first appraisal it could be seen as a classic design. However, of all the comments we have had - this uniform is the one that is constantly derided. Check out these comments!
- "The white neck tie that we had to wear when the aircraft was on the ground was a nightmare. When you opened the door it flew in your face. As it did outside at the first hint of a breeze."
- "Oh I hated that blouse. It was such a funny material. If you were in a hot country the hotter it got the more sticky the blouse became"
- "The blouse was vile, if you were in the galley the big, flouncy sleeves were always dropping into something, food, drink, (Wine and Coffee being the worst)"
- "I hated the skirt, it was an awkward length. neither a mini nor a knee length, I took mine up two hemlines and was brought into the office when I was spotted."
- "The whole thing was horrible. I think it was crimpolene. If you were in Palma in July with that on with your tights as well, it stuck to everything, it never breathed."
- "That blouse was never out of soak. You couldn't get half of the stains out of the arms, and there were many - it always dipped into things - We got dry cleaning tokens for our suits but had to do the blouses ourselves. I don't know if people officially complained, but I don't know of anyone who liked it."
- I never liked any part of it - the sleeves were too baggy, the neck tie flew everywhere, the material was awful, I even hated the hat. I stitched a hair comb in the front and back to keep it in place. It flew off at gatwick and landed in a filthy puddle. I tried to steam the grime off with a kettle. It sort of worked but the hat was then mis shaped. I was brought in because of that, and told to be more careful as replacememts were expensive!"
As much as the 73-76 uniform was complained about, the 1976 replacement was complimented. The staff had a choice of two colours with the blouse, red or blue. There was a short sleeved option for summer as well. The House of Mansfield came up with the design. Although the uniform looks black on most pictures, it was, in fact, described as 'Midnight Blue'. By having such a dark blue the uniform matched the aircraft. One critisism came from one stewardess who said "I always thought the hat was a bit on the high side! I prefered the blue one that came after it. now THAT was a uniform." Other comments included
- "I felt so proud wearing that uniform. I even drove to work in the hat."
- "I thought everything about that uniform was stylish. It fitted well and was cool in hot climates. The blouses washed well."
- "I've still got mine. I can't fit into it mind you - But it still hangs beautifully on the hanger. My daughter tried it on and it still looked lovely."
- "One of the girls from Monarch I knew came over to me at Manchester and said how she hated her uniform. She thought we looked like hostesses and that they looked like a walking banana."
- ''I got mine out of the loft the other day and I was really surprised at quite a few details. Firstly it was really really well made. The overcoat was a woolen blend. I was most shocked at how tiny it all looked even though I haven't put a lot of weight on. The hat I always remember being a bit tall. But the one in my loft was small. I'm shocked that my head had grown so much because it had to pull it down and it felt tight on my forehead. It never used to do that."
In some respects it's slightly misleading to say that this uniform lasted 12 years. But in many ways it did. There were slight changes to it, but the jacket, skirt and hat stayed unchanged. Some of the girls preferred the optional trousers, but they stopped being a part of the uniform in the late eightes. There were some changes too in the overcoat. The cream mac was dropped in favour of an outsize one in cornflower blue. This uniform was called "Mix and match" at the time of its conception. The designers, the House of Mansfield had initially been directed to design a brown uniform. When the board of directors saw it it was quickly dropped. Only to appear on Gatwick Handling ground staff soon after. Cream tank tops or jumpers with blue edging were an option too. In 1978 the uniform was launched. The blouse and dress in lemon had the company's compass and flag logo as a print. Shortly after the girls began wearing it they realised that at normal washing temperatures, the whole design 'ran' this in turn made the lemon background a rather dull colour. It was changed in 1979 to a pale lemon, available in a blouse or dress. The outsize collars on this lasted until 1980 when a new look was debuted. In 1985 more changes had been introduced. This time, a white short or long sleeved blouse complemented the look. Comments included.
- This was my favourite of all the uniforms I ever wore.
- How I hated that hat.
- The coat was just awful - it buried eveyone who wore it.
- I felt ten feet tall walking through the airport with this on.
- My now husband said he could smell Dan-Air girls before he saw us. He said we all smelled of Rive Gauche perfume. Well, I certainly did.
- I wore both this uniform and the one that preceeded it and followed it. I definately got more wolf whistles wearing this than any other. I secretly loved them.
- My boyfriend at the time sat on the hat. He did the best he could to put it right. I opened a BAC 1-11 door at Gatwick and was spotted with binoculars with a bashed in hat.
- The meterial was less heavy than the navy one I first wore. My first ever flight in this was to Malta, where it was schorching hot. I was surprised at how cool I felt in it.
- It was better at hiding my pregnancy than my number one was! Too late, I was grounded!
- One passenger I remember asked where she could buy one from as her best friend was getting married - she thought it was a perfect wedding guest outfit.
- Loved it so much - I still do. I am still flying and would be proud to wear the exact same uniform.
- I was dismissed from Dan-Air after four months. They didn't pull any punches. They said I had let them down over standbys and more to the point I had received complaints over my attitude from pax (Passengers) I blame the uniform, no seriously I do! It made me feel ten feet tall - Like I could do anything. Obviously I couldn't because people thought I was a b*tch. I'm not at all by the way!
Once again the House Of Mansfield was called in to work on the design for a new look. The bowler style hat was dropped in fabour of a felt hat. Cornflower blue remained the colour. The uniform was more tailored, but the skirt length had increased. the kick pleat at the front was also to stay. A new, dotted print appeared on long and short sleeved blouses.This was available as a Summer dress too. The tank top was changed to match the blue of skirts and jackets. A much neater bow was introduced which was allowed to be worn in four styles. Comments included.
- Never liked the hat it was floppy and looked a mess if it got wet - which it did - A lot!
- The blouse was cheap and nasty
- The blouse was lovely - good quality cotton much better than what I wear now.....
- The tank top was lambs wool - good quality
- The uniform store was not the friendliest of places if you had ruined your hat - as I did more than once.
- At least with the bowler hat we used to wear - the brim one inch above your eyebrow- rule could be stuck to. This hat never knew where it wanted to sit.
- Losing a button on my jacket was a hallelujah moment for me. It was what was in fashion so I was delighted.
- Recently I heard Virgin were allowing crew to be make up free.... When I see present day cabin crew I am often shocked. Our rules were rigid as steel. We couldn't even wear earrings until much later on, and they were pearl only. Nails could be painted one of about three colours only, we had three lipstick choices, make up applied a certain way. hair longer than the collar had to go up in a BLUE ribbon. It was strict - but we looked knock out.
Very little changed in the 1989 uniform apart from a slightly lighter blue on the fabric. The main change was the introduction of a bright, bold print on the white blouse and Summer dress. Seen up close it can be seen to bear some resemblence to a bird in flight. The print featured the red and blue that adorned the aircraft in the fleet. Now the airline wanted to present itself as a smart scheduled airline targeting business travellers. The cut of the jacket left the 1980s giant shoulder pads out too. A significant streamlining in style had been achieved. By now men were working as cabin crew and a simple grey trouser with black blazer uniform was designed. This saw a white shirt with company tie and pin as accessories.
- Now that was a uniform
- No matter how much I complained they wouldn't change that bloody hat.
- I put a little bit of weight on and they didn't have my size - I was told to make sure I fit in the skirt quickly.
- I think we looked better than a lot of our contemporaries.
- I think the passengers liked this one - I was told by a few regulars who had noticed the change straight away.
- One of the fleet stewardesses said to me when she first saw me in it - ******* you know, we do only go up to a size fourteen in skirt don't you? I lost the weight.
- If I was out of vision, the first thing I did was to take that hat off. I had worn the bowler with pride, this was like those from British Home Stores. There was nothing unique or stylish about it.
The uniform that came on stream in 1991 was hardly a change at all. The hat had been dropped - that's all - causing relief to some, but consternation to others. It is worth noting that ground grew who worked with Class Elite passengers wore a black uniform. All other ground crew had worn the same uniform as cabin crew previously. Except at Gatwick where the familiar brown Gatwick Handling uniform was worn.
- The hat - thank God it was dropped
- We were sent a note saying they were givinng us the option for a month to wear or not wear the hat. To find out if a hat was to be redesigned or dropped. I never found the results out - it was just dropped. I guess that says it all. Despite hating the hat I wore mine for the month hoping we would get a new design. We didn't!
- I was not given the option to wear a hat - were were just told to stop
- I was on a snowy Manchester apron when a maintenance vehicle drove past me it went through a puddle of de icer that hadn't been cleaned up. I was splattered with green de icer, oily slush and snow. It looked terrible. I climbed up the steps after boarding was complete and was told off for not wearing my overcoat.
Whilst we were looking at the pictures of the cabin crew and what they wore - it is worth also mentioning the hard work that they had to do with the airline. In a lot of cases those early flights were at very unsociable hours. To do the job when you did not live near an airport could mean reloacting to a place where one did not know any other people. Many did just that. The crew had to work long hours under a great deal of pressure. They were very well trained, not least in safety proceedures. They had to engage in training in water as well as in mock ups of aircraft cabins. Far from being just a waitress in the sky the crew would have to deal with cash and stock and to satisfy customs requirements. This would mean ensuring that bonded stores had to be sealed in readiness at the UK. On flights that were very short the airlines would add extra touches to lure customers. A full cooked breakfast on a flight of less than an hour from London to Glasgow was not an easy task for more than a hundred passengers. Add in a complimentary drinks service and a hot drinks service and you really had to work fast. Some of the crew who worked in the 1960s often had to work several sectors in one day. A shift pattern that saw Gatwick - Jersey - Gatwick - Guernsey - Gatwick - Ostend - Gatwick was not uncommon. Dan-Air did commence long haul flights in the early 1970s. This would mean that crews would disembark at the US end and wait a few days for the next incoming flight to work their way home. Later on the company concentrated on European charters and schedules. On occasion this would mean a 5.5 hour trip to Eilat or Luxor with a turn around and working flight home. When one considers that crew had been at the airport for briefing perhaps two hours before a flight and after it returned for debriefing and cashing up. AND that is providing there wasn't a delay for technical or operational reasons.
One can see that it was a gruelling life. That said, the crew were renowned for their spirit and their sense of fun. All the stories I have heard lament the passing of the airline and most pepple tell me that their days at "Dans" were the best of their life.
Let's have a look at some company documents to demonstrate just what they had to undertake on each flight. Viewing the documents will give the reader an insight into how much more cabin crew were expected to do than today. The standards were exceptionally high. Today it is not unusual to be handed a drink with the bottle inside the glass. Cans handed to passengers is normal on airlines like Easy Jet - this would never happen with Dan-Air - After viewing these - next time you fly - observe and you will see why, the secret WAS service.
CABIN SERVICE MANUAL
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16 Mar 2021
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21 Feb 2021
Hello, just to let you know the unidentified air hostess circa 1973 in the Comet serving coffee, is my wife who was known as Carolyn Hales, some of her friend called her Caro, she worked on both Comet and BAC 111, along with her friend Rita.
13 Aug 2020
The photo of the un identified stewardess serving drinks on a Comet circa 1973, is my wife, she was known as Carolyn Hales, and still is.
19 Dec 2019
The photo of a stewardess on a Comet unidentified 1972/73 in a red uniform, is my wife Carolyn Hales, Yes Carolyn kept her name married, she used to go to the reunions with her very close friend Margaret. I would love to have a copy of this photo. We live in Cornwall where Carolyn was born. Our address is.... 4Trefloyd Close Kelly Bray Callington Cornwall PL17 8DP. It would be wonderful for us to have a copy of the photo.