High fashion: How Cathay Pacific's uniforms have evolved through the ages

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 9:09am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 9:09am

With a recent scandal over Cathay Pacific’s stewardess uniforms allegedly provoking in-flight sexual harassment, and Hong Kong's crackdown on in-flight sex pests, one man’s massive collection of air hostess attire should offer some perspective.

Cathay staff earlier this year complained that a uniform change, incorporating tighter skirts and short blouses, meant some attendants were showing off a bit too much flesh, especially when they had to bend down.

Now, thanks to a huge collection of air stewardess uniforms through the ages put together by enthusiast Cliff Muskiet, we can see exactly how Cathay Pacific's uniforms have evolved through the years - and why some may even view the most recent design as rather conservative.

Cliff, 48, has been actively collecting uniforms since 1983, and has so far notched up a mind-boggling 1,270 outfits from 475 different airlines over the ages.

While Cathay's uniform has lost its 'pilot look' of the 1940s and 50s, and switched from conservative blue to a daring red in 1962, it has retained its smart two-piece style and the hem hasn't risen too far above the knee.

“I don’t think the current Cathay uniform is sexy at all, it is actually quite conservative - look at those black stockings," said Cliff, who lives in Amsterdam.

“I think it’s is impractical and needs to be adjusted because the blouse is too short and doesn’t cover enough when a flight attendant bends down. If they make the blouse longer or have the blouse tucked into the skirt, the problem can be solved.”

One of Cathay’s earliest uniforms lent flight attendants an authoritarian air, with a pilot-like button-up blouse and epaulettes.

Moving through the decades, a simple sixties look incorporated a twee, teacosy-like hat, while the 80s saw a bold, psychedelic-print blouse, garish enough to exacerbate airsickness in fliers with a weaker constitution.

Speaking about the recent controversy over the airline’s current uniform, Cliff, who lives in Amsterdam and is himself a flight steward, said Cathay was currently one of the few airlines where attendants wore the blouse over the skirt, with most preferring to sport a tucked-in look.

But as his collection shows, Cathay Pacific is hardly one of the worst offenders where skimpy outfits are concerned.

Over the years Pacific Southwest Airlines and Mohawk Airlines, both based in the US, are just two companies that have put staff in super-short dresses.

And the trend appears to have resurfaced recently, with Japan's Skymark Airlines pushing the hem up just about as high as is possible in order to remain decent - much to the dismay of some staff members who protested that they were being objectified.

Unfortunately Cliff is still awaiting a Skymark uniform to add to his collection.

* Click here to see Cliff’s entire collection at www.uniformfreak.com