The Fabulousness of Airline Fashion: Emirates
Where to find glamour at 39,000 Feet? Look no further than the flight attendants at the iconic Emirates Airlines, where elegant style is still valued. Jet setting around the globe has a glamourous ring to it, but combined with these ladies (who always look quite alluring in their outfits) you’ve got a winning combo. It’s like the way air travel was in the golden age of flight in the US during the days of Pan-Am. In a world where casual Friday is every day, it’s refreshing to see female airline attendants dress the part giving us glamour in the skies.
Glamour isn’t something you ordinarily think about (especially as I sit in yoga pants fueling the beastly blog.) When you do, you may think of it as a fantasy. That’s because glamour is dream like. It isn’t just a style of dress or a synonym for celebrity. We want to be there, to belong there – uplifting ourselves from ordinary to extraordinary. Like humor, it’s a form of communication that triggers a distinctive emotional response: a sensation of projection and longing. What we find glamorous, like what we find funny, depends on who we are.
Flight Attendant uniforms have changed a lot over the years. The pilots and flight attendants of Emirates are required to walk through the airport in one large attention-getting group, much as the Kardashion’s entourage at LAX. Premium class, be it first or business, has never been more extravagant and service provided by Emirates is of “the utmost significance” and it shows. Etiquette and protocol are reminiscent of the glory days of flying, giving them an edge. Did you know the average time on the job at Emirate is just 4.3 years, a result of the rule requiring them to live in Dubai? For those who have that confidence and thrill of adventure, it’s a kick ass opportunity.
Style in the aisle never looked so good with female staff wearing elegant beige coloured suits (the color of sand) with a red and chocolate pinstripe trim. A kick of red peaks out from the skirt at the knee in a flirty yet classy way. A cream blouse has been trimmed with red for the cabin crew and cream for the pursers, and hello…those smiling faces beneath that signature blood-red hat with billowing white scarves? Stunningly glam! Hats differentiate the staff with crew wearing red and pursers sporting a chocolate-brown. Did you know the red lipstick is signature and it must match the hat? Yes Sir…We shant’ be wearing any fuchsia or wine colors my dear or you’ll soon be applying at Virgin Atlantic! Even their lingerie is specified: preferably beige and “well-fitted,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Before the plane lands attendants apply make-up, use a cleanser/exfoliater and eye gel and moisturizer. For these gal’s doing this every day, it’s a boat load of work. Think about the beauty woos of traveling…Mechanical issues, delays, jet-lag, vomit lady, fatigue, dry skin, eye-masks, gallons of water to stay hydrated and holy crappoli the dreaded gas man! Nails have to be clear, french or the same red as the lipstick and hat. If your hair touches your collar you have to put it up, but there is some flexibility based on texture. They can do a French roll or twist, and they just got braids approved… so 60’s! (if only we could revert back to the leg room of a 747 during the 60‘s eh?) Apparently, thou-shalt-not use Big and Sexy hairspray or gel – instead they recommend hair oil which stops hair drying out and also the use of a wooden hair brush to prevent static electricity from affecting their pristine hairstyles. (I’d be a perfect candidate with my poker straight hair. As a child Mom used that nasty Dippity-Do and bobby pins over night and by lunch time my hair was straight as a pin!) It’s also not just their appearances that get hyper-analyzed. They’re taught how to eat at restaurants and how to walk through the airport, so they can be in perfect form both on and off the plane. I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted just thinking about all this effort…
This past year I had the pleasure of interviewing author Virginia Postrel who wrote, “The Power of Glamour”. The book offers a complete and comprehensive answer to the question “what is glamour?” and provides a compelling argument about the role that glamour plays in our daily lives. Virginia defines glamour as nonverbal rhetoric that “leads us to feel that the life we dream of exists, and to desire it even more.” Glamour has, in her view, three essential elements: a promise of escape and transformation, grace and mystery. We long for beauty as not just idea or place or artifact, but the human beautiful. Beauty in the flesh, personal. (Speaking of flesh, I imagine no bikini’s by the pool let alone skinny dipping after their trips. Damn.)
Commercial airline travel takes us all far outside of our comfort zone. We’re herded into cylinders that zip hundreds of miles per hour at 30,000 feet, get worked over by glowering security operatives, confronted with lost luggage, rushed to catch connecting flights, constrained to “the airline squeeze” (it’s not you, it’s the seat.) scrunched up with complete strangers, and surrounded by pathogens. Is it any wonder we end up becoming a bundle of nerves ready for a shot of tequila by journey’s end?
The reality of being a crew member involves long hours, operating in different time zones with limited time off and a very fine line between work and life balance. It might take the girls at Emirates over an hour to get ready, but I for one appreciate their dedication to look professional for one of the best airlines in the world. Emirates is much more than it’s hardware; the ladies much more than a trolley dolly my friend.
It doesn’t take much effort to be considerate and helpful to flight attendants and airline staff – and hey, chances are you make more money than they do. Want to make their day? There is nothing more pleasurable for a crew member than to have a passenger praising them when they disembark. Comments such as “I can’t wait to fly with you again”, “Thank you, that was a lovely flight” with a warm smile go a long way. Kindness begets kindness.
Off to get glamorous on the ground. No noise reduction headphones required.
* Raise your hand in the comment section below and tell us about your travel experiences. We’d love to hear from you.