Airplane travel used to be so luxurious back in the days (and had more room for us Economy Class folks too). People would dress up and head into airports and onto airplanes dressed like they were on their way to dinner parties. Today it’s the exact opposite, with air travel looks being more about comfort over style.

I was never part of the “dress up era” but I still like to look nice to fly, I just really wish that I was not alone. Can you imagine what airports must have looked like with all of these well dressed men and women wandering around? Sigh..just fantastic I’m sure. Well for today’s post, we are stepping back in time and getting a peak at the ‘Stylish Side of Vintage Air Travel’.

Canadian Pacific Airlines Vintage Poster 1950s

To start the images roundup I found this one in a thrift shop a few months ago and had shared it in a previous post BUT it’s so appropriate to share again. This lovely 1940s couple is standing in front of a Canadian Pacific Air Lines plane which was a Canadian airline that operated from 1942 to 1987. This image would have been taken in its early years. Her hat is simply wonderful!

Canadian Pacific Airline vintage photo of couple before flight

Even though this is clearly a modelling image from the 1950s it is still not inaccurate on how women dressed for travelling. Fantastic outfit.

1950s woman with plane

Being stylish was not just reserved for the ladies. Here is NBC News’ Foreign Correspondent James Robinson in 1958, looking very dapper.

NBC News' Foreign Correspondent James Robinson in October 1958
Source: Huffington Post

Everyone flew, like this adorable well dressed older couple pictured here.

Older couple with plane, vintage image
Source: Huffington Post

1930s Fashion are on display in front of Qantas Flight.

Travelling with Qantas 1930s Style
Source: Qantas

And also on display for Hawaiian Airlines (1930).

1930 Hawaiian Airlines
Source: Huffpost Travel

Is this a fashion show or the lineup for the plane? Either way these folks look really great!

Early 1930s air travel
Source: Pinterest

Looking good was not just reserved for the adults, even kids were put in their Sunday best for air travel.

A TWA pilot and stewardess greets the passengers coming off the plane, ca.1950s, Cincinnati, Ohio
(Photo by Marsh Photographers/Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images)

Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Laraine Day “Flying in High Style,” 1954.

Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor
Source: Everyday Starlet

First class travel style includes wearing your furs.

1950s Airplane First Class Lounge Interior Vintage Advertisement Men Women Fashion

Even the luggage was just as fabulous. Thought! Maybe you had to dress up to match the luggage? Hmmmm…

white Samsonite luggage, 1950s
Source: Pinterest

Lastly, Jessica from Chronically Vintage had this wonderful Air Canada boarding pass on sale on her Etsy site and I just HAD to buy it because 1. It is piece of Canadian History (love) and 2. My husband works for Air Canada so I knew I had to make it mine. It has it’s own glam feel to it, don’t you agree?

Trans Canada Air Lines Air Canada Vintage Boarding Pass Holder


Question time: Do you dress up for Air travel? Or do you prefer to be part of the comfortable clothes bunch?

Liz 🙂




15 comments on “Lets Take a Trip: The Stylish Side of Vintage Air Travel”

    • It is pretty funny when I head to VIVA, a bunch of us are usually on the same flight and we are all dressed up for the event (already) and the looks we get are hilarious. People don’t understand this concept of “dressing up to fly” anymore.

  1. It’s all just so unfathomable. All I’ve seen in my lifetime is people dressed like the homeless. I have a pic of my father and his siblings/parents in 1961, about to board a Pan-Am flight, in hats and gloves and jackets. They really pulled out all the stops! It would be so nice to travel back inside these pictures you posted.

    • It is a bummer that the style is SUPER comfort for the airports now. I will admit that while I still like to look nice on a plane, I might leave the nylons in my purse or make sure that my dress has a bit of extra room around the waist when i’m sitting for several hours. However you will NEVER see me in track pants…ever on a plane. Unless that plane is an exercise plane and I have to workout lol!

  2. This post just made my whole weekend. Thank you very much for sharing the lovely boarding pass cover that you picked up from my shop. It couldn’t possibly have gone to a better home than yours.

    Wonderful post. I just about always dress up to a degree when I fly. It’s such a rare, special occasion for me. How I could I not “bring it” on the fashion front to celebrate such?

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    • Us vintage ladies sure do know how to bring it on planes or off and I know you would never disappoint Jessica 🙂

      thanks again for stocking that awesome piece of Canadian history, just for me 😉

      Have a super week!

      Liz 🙂

  3. I always dress up to fly and pretty much everything else! I hate this trend now where you pretty much turn up in your pyjamas to go on a plane. But then people don’t care about their appearance and how they are seen in public anymore. You really do see some sights in airports now.

    I love the outfits of the two ladies in the 1930s, I would happily wear either of them whilst flying. xx

  4. Well, while I fly it’s usually the story of my life: I’m the most dressed up person in sight. We are very lucky today because we can look good AND be comfortable with modern fabrics. But most people choose to feel good and look bad! LOL
    Same as Kerbey, my family photos of my dad and grandparents flying, they are all dressed up in suits and white gloves.

    • Yay for modern fabrics. I usually wear my reproduction pieces (that have a bit of movement) when I fly for ultimate comfort and good looks 🙂

      I wish I had photos like that of my grandparents, they never flew. Only drove a motor home everywhere.

  5. I’m usually thinking about which of my holiday outfits takes up the most room and wearing that! I do like to be comfortable, but I’m still out in public (and no exercising, as you say) so I want to be presentable. Plus I often have someone meeting me at the other side, and am already bound to look tired, so I see no reason to make my appearance even worse!

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