Photo gallery: Qantas uniforms

By David Flynn, December 13 2013
Photo gallery: Qantas uniforms

Qantas staff around the world – from cabin crew to checkin staff, lounge teams and baggage handlers – slipped into the airline's chic new uniform this week.

It's only airline's 11th uniform in its 93 year history, so what better time to take a stroll down a decades-long catwalk with this gallery of Qantas uniforms?

Although Qantas was founded in 1920, our slideshow begins in 1948 when Qantas first began to employ female flight attendants (back then, we could still call them 'hosties').

In those days the airline had different uniforms for different seasons – here's the lightweight summer uniform worn from 1948 through to 1959.

The winter uniform switched to thicker fabrics, more layers and darker colours, although what had already become Qantas' signature cap remained firmly in place.

1959 arrives. Ben Hur and Some Like It Hot smash the box office – Liverpool 'skiffle' band The Quarry Men, led by John Lennon, auditions a 15 year old guitarist named Paul McCartney – and Qantas uniforms begin to loose a little of their bulk and show a little more leg.

In 1964 the Red Roo went sky blue.

In keeping with the times, crew wrapped themselves in the simpler slimmer-fitting lines and donned a jauntier cap.

The look could be easily accessorised by adding a jet engine to the ensemble.

Up next: as the swinging sixties gave way to the confused seventies, Qantas rolled out a short-lived splash of bright red with an above-the-knee skirt. And another new hat.

But that photo doesn't do justice to this sharp look or the daring mini-skirt, so here's a better shot in this parade of Qantas uniforms.

It really does stand out a mile, both for the vivid red colour and the daring mini-skirt.

To the right of the '69-71 look above you can see what came next: a less adventurous but more 'classic' look with greater emphasis on tailoring. And another new hat.

1974 arrived with a riot of colour and Ron Burgundy moustaches.

But we shouldn't rush to ridicule this look. It was created by Italian designer Emilio Pucci, one of the names in the world of fashion. And these were the 70s, after all.

It was in this era – 1979, to be precise – that Qantas introduced the world's first business class.

After all, nothing says 'premium cabin' like an orange jacket with a mustard-yellow shirt and striped brown tie!

1986 saw a return – or was that a relieved retreat? – to a safer palette dominated by blue but with sharp flashes of red drawn from the Qantas tail (a note that's echoed in the latest Martin Grant uniform).

Designed by Yves Saint Laurent, the uniform's professional look was cut along looser-fitting and more relaxed lines.

The conservative look continued to trend in the mid-90s with this corporate treatment crafted by George Gross and Harry Who.

In 2003, Australian designer Peter Morrisey (below) recast the Qantas uniform with contemporary lines and Aboriginal-inspired motifs.

This sharp look was refreshed in 2008 and retired only this week.

And no, this isn't an official Qantas cabin crew uniform – it's the 'Grid Girl Outfit' from the 2010 Qantas F1 Grand Prix.

If you're really into the in-flight fashion, visit the very detailed if oddly unsettling (and thus, perhaps appropriately-named) UniformFreak site featuring "1,142 different stewardess uniforms from 433 airlines."

How do these looks compare to the very latest Qantas uniform? Check out our photo-laden feature on Qantas' new 2013 uniform.

Read: Dressed to impress – Qantas switches to new uniform

Based on traditional Fijian attire, the new Fiji Airways uniforms (below) mix rich chocolate and vibrant aqua colours. Read more...

Christian Lacroix's uniforms for China Eastern (below) showcase cosmopolitan "Shanghai-style fashion", albeit with crisp European lines and Parisian influences. Read more...


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

i find it bizaar when some comments are that the new uniform isnt 'Australian/QF ...looking thru the ages of QF many would you pick as 'Australian/Qf'? 

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

and to be honest...the ones that are 'highly visible as OZ/QF'...are tacky....its about time Australia... and QF grew up ..into a global citizen.. I love the new uniform

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2013

Total posts 27

Yes I like the new look too, the front desk gals were modelling them at the Q business lounge on day 1 of the roll out last week. Change is good.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2013

Total posts 23

I think the gal's in the winter uniform 1948-1959 were crewing my Sydney to Melbourne flight last week! They have stood the test of time, unlike their uniforms :-)

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 461

The Uniforms from the Australian Airlines Era of 1986 to 1993 seem to be missing.I know that was before they Merged with Qantas but someone should put it in as part of how they dressed the cabin crew domestically.

16 Dec 2013

Total posts 2

well having been a Qantas staff member since 1969 i have seen many changes in thier uniform but I think the Girls and Guys look GREAT in the new uniform ...Well done

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