Fly the Fashion Skies
By: Sharon Mosley
She was one of my last Barbie dolls. I’ll never forget her. It was 1966, and I was getting a little too “old” to play with Barbie, but something about the “Pan Am” Barbie thrilled me. I had never been on a plane at that young age, but I had dreams of being a stewardess myself — traveling all over the world, wearing that blue twill suit with the perky blue hat, white gloves and swinging with the jet set carrying that little black bag. And oh, the wings … yes, my Barbie came with little gold wing pins on her hat and her jacket lapel. She was my favorite.
Now that vintage Barbie is going for $950 on eBay and fashionistas everywhere are snapping up the latest trends inspired by the hit TV show, “Pam Am,” which debuted on ABC this season. The iconic clothes and accessories from the 1960s are ready for take-off and soaring back into style. Fashion’s frequent flyers are ready to land the ladylike looks that hark back to an era of women who ruled the airwaves and provided plenty of “Style in the Aisle” – the name of a recent exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, which highlighted collections of vintage flight attendant uniforms.
The TV show features the designs of Ane Crabtree who scoured the Pan Am archives to give the show’s costumes even more authenticity. So what if the jackets are a little tighter and the skirts a little shorter? It is 2011 after all!
Here are a few ways you, too, can fly the friendly fashion skies this fall:
— Blue Suit — It was quintessential Pam Am. The powder blue twill was a signal that you had first class service on a first class airline. The suits this year, show off the curves — with fitted jackets. No slouchy uniforms here! Whether it’s a skirt suit or a pantsuit, stick to tailored silhouettes and you’ll arrive at your destination with a modern twist.
— White Shirt — Another classic that never goes out of style. The crisp white shirt was a must-have in the 1960s, and it still is the basic we all love to stock up on. Choose a sleek style to wear under jackets or a more updated, boxier “boyfriend” style to wear with jeans.
— Pencil Skirt — Sexy secretary? No, these are sexy stewardesses! The slim-fitting skirts are another basic that seems to fit all seasons. Remember, this fall, the hemlines are slightly longer, so don’t worry if you grew up in the 60s wearing mini-skirts. It may be the perfect time for a little change.
— Oversized Leather Handbag — Let’s face it, when we fly, the bigger the bag, the better, right? Pan Am Barbie may have had a small black leather bag, but then she lived in an age where traveling fashion divas checked trunk after trunk of Louis Vuitton! Now we’re all trying to fit in laptops, iPads, dogs etc. into the smallest carry-on bag possible. Marc Jacobs was one of the first designers in 2007 to be inspired by the iconic blue and white Pan Am flight bag, but more and more accessory designers are coming out with their own version of the top-handle tote.
—White Gloves — Yes, those flight attendants of days gone by gave their customers the white glove treatment — on and off the ground. Don’t be surprised to see gloves making a big comeback this fall in short and long versions.
— Glasses — What really makes those pilots and stewardesses so charming and appealing? Those cool shades they wear, of course! Watch for retro-inspired, square Ray-Bans and slightly oval “cat-eye” glasses to give modern-day fashion fliers that same cool factor from the ’60s.
— Hats — And then there are the hats…if you’re not into perky pillboxes, then try on a head-hugging cloche.
— Jewelry — White gloves? Can pearls be far behind? Pins in all kinds of whimsical shapes and sizes graced the lapels of many “proper” ladies in the ’60s. Get your wings this fall, and fly high!
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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