Corporate Flight Crew Attire: Expectations, Trends, and Standards
One of the first things I noticed (and loved), when I made the transition from commercial flight crew to corporate, was the attire! Of course, being a woman, this was a new dressing adventure ☺ . I was SO ready to get rid of that awful polyester uniform and begin wearing those classy beautiful suits! I also noticed that the pilot’s attire was different as well. Although some still wore white shirts and stripes with dress pants, many had on Polo shirts and Khakis!! I was a little confused by this at first, but I soon learned I was now in a whole new arena of culture.
Although most cabin attendants (Corporate Flight Attendants/ FAs)- go with basic browns, greys, and blacks, there is no uniformed dress code! . Across the board the standard is simply: professional, well tailored, and modest. Simple makeup and jewelry, closed toe shoes- heels or flats, and Pants, skirts, or dresses are all acceptable, and preferably with stockings. You can basically go out and shop for whatever- pardon the pun- “suits you”, and wear it to work.
Of course, like in any profession, there are those who try to dress down as much as they can get away with, or wear “less” than they probably should..
The pilots on the other hand, seem to have less of a standard of dress on the job. It seems to be all over the board depending on what FAR they are flying under (IE. Part 91, 135, or 125), and who they answer to at the end of the day..
Some of the pilots have mentioned to me that they don’t want to feel or look like “commercial pilots”.. While others feel just the opposite, and say that they feel they get more respect wearing stripes.
I use to notice that there was a significant difference between the West coast and the East coast- in terms of how the FAs dressed. West coast being a bit more “colorful” in their attire and East coast being a bit straighter laced shall we say.
More recently, it seems that the trend from coast to coast is pretty much-evened out- still professional and clean but somewhat more casual. I am seeing Less suit jackets and more blouses with cardigans, and trendy dress pants or shorter skirts.
I know that so many of us are doing really long international trips and it makes sense that after 12 hours of flying, you really don’t want to be in a full suit and heels. Especially overnight flights! I know that personally, I tend to wear pants instead of skirts, and flats instead of heels- while working those really long legs. However, I do still keep up the professional standard.( I know what is expected of me on board those luxurious multi- million dollar planes)..
The cockpit crew seems to be dressing down as well, at least on part 91 trips. Since they are working for one main owner, and not a revolving door of new clients, they dress less “to impress” and more for functional work . The pilots do however coordinate with each other and Most times I see matching polo shirts and matching dress pants or khakis..But, They are in no way sloppy or unprofessional. A charter company rather than an individual or corporation usually employs the ones that still dress like typical pilots-. I think that their attire seems to go along with their professional status.
AS I mentioned before, for the pilots, the expectations are definitely different in some ways. I am not sure if I would call this a “double standard”, although some may see it that way.
When it comes to owner trips( part 91), the attire may be different and I think that is due to the “person in charge”. The one actually employing them could be requesting more casual wear.
The flight attendants , unless otherwise instructed, are expected to assume the more professional dress because they are the front line.. They aren’t hidden behind a door all day, they are out in the cabin serving and socializing. Particularly on part 135 trips, the impression that they make on the clients will reflect upon the company directly.
And lastly, The clients are paying for the whole package when they board these amazing planes. The presentation and quality of everything and everyone that goes along with their trip is extremely important to them. They want their catering to be the best it can be at 40,000 feet, they want the interior of the planes to be plush, comfortable, and impeccably clean, and they want the flight attendants to look the part as well. If they are entertaining guests, this standard goes up one more notch to complete perfection expectation..
In my opinion, it is also very important to keep up these expectations of professional and classy dressed flight crew because when you let one thing slide, other things may follow “suit”..
I welcome the feelings and thoughts of my fellow flight crew on this topic, or anyone else that wants to share their opinion!