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The early days of aviation saw male and female pilots alike wear same uniforms. The females wore every single item their male counterparts had from hats, bomber jackets, boots, every single thing.
The thing is, the inspiration of uniforms of the flight crew of most airlines can be traced back to the military outfit. Many of the major commercial airlines began operations using former military pilots and even air crafts. This were the days of the evergreen WW1 and WW2.
To this end, it is really not surprising to see so much of the military tradition including that of standard uniforms, passed on to the aviation sector.
Pilot uniforms from the hat down to their shoes, all reflect to an extent, the military background.
However, things have changed considerably now. Recently, some commercial airlines are seen to have slight variations in the uniforms that male and female pilots wear with the females having more suitable options.
- 1 Notable differences between male and female pilot’s uniforms
- 2 Reasons why some airlines do not allow female pilots wear skirts
- 3 What kind of skirts are female pilots allowed to wear?
- 4 Why do airline pilots have to wear uniforms?
- 5 Other clothing items that pilots are not allowed to wear
- 6 What is the proper dress code for pilots?
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 What kind of footwear should a pilot wear?
- 9 Final Note
Notable differences between male and female pilot’s uniforms
Nowadays, most airlines give female pilots the option of choosing between wearing a trouser or skirt. This means that females who do not fancy wearing trousers due to religious or whatever reasons can easily opt for skirts without looking or feeling odd.
Cravats are wider neck coverings that are more fitting for blouses than ties. Female pilots do not have to wear ties if they do not feel comfortable in them. They can easily go for cravats made available for them by the airline.
Instead of wearing the conventional lace-up shoes, female pilots can now wear shoes with heels if they so desire.
However, they must be sure to follow certain specifications that see to the fact that they are able to safely operate the rudder pedals in them.
Reasons why some airlines do not allow female pilots wear skirts
Flying an airplane is serious business and as such, everything even down to the uniform has to be practical.
Pilots do need pockets. We could say that skirts can have pockets too but then, they also need to make use of their feet and we all know that would not be possible a hundred percent with skirts.
Skirts would hinder the free movement of the legs. Pilots need to be able to swing into action at once in cases of emergencies and any clothing that would hinder that should not be considered.
Secondly, the foot wells of most airlines can be very cold as there is a high possibility of very cool current seeping into the feet.
Trousers, paired with very thick socks are the ideal piece of clothing that can help keep the feet protected from cold gentle cold breeze emanating from there.
Therefore, at the end of the day, trousers chosen over skirts as uniforms for female pilots all boils to practical considerations and nothing else.
What kind of skirts are female pilots allowed to wear?
Female pilots would only wear what is made available to them by their respective airlines. Whatever kind of skirt that the airlines think is practical and has a professional look is what the females would have to go by.
Skirts can be pleated, to allow for ease of movement and overall better mobility, or straight ones depending on whatever yardstick the airline is going by.
Why do airline pilots have to wear uniforms?
Uniforms are actually very important and are used by many professionals as a form of easy identification from the huge crowd.
Yes. Uniforms are indeed an object of identification. It’s a branding item different organizations use. The same way you recognize a chef or mechanic when you see one is how you immediately know pilots once you see them in their uniforms.
Apart from uniforms being work clothes, they are also a sign of power, authority, and professionalism. In times of a sudden problem, a power tussle, or an emergency, people are already clear as to who should be trusted and obeyed.
Furthermore, uniforms instill a sense of responsibility on the wearer, makes them look smart, sharp, and serve as an easy depiction of the chain of command in the establishment.
Other clothing items that pilots are not allowed to wear
The dress code of pilots can be classified as formal or business casual at best. The job of a pilot is a respectable one and pilots are to dress in a way that exudes class and charm even when traveling not in their uniforms or during their days of training.
Clothing pieces like jeans, sportswear, tattered or rumpled-looking clothing, or revealing or seductive dresses should not be worn. Shorts, open-toed shoes, and other types of casual footwear should also not be considered.
What is the proper dress code for pilots?
We know that the uniforms of pilots and other airline staff are very key aspects of the job but, even when they are attending flight training and other official functions not on their uniforms, there is a strict dress code they still have to go by due to their kind of profession.
Apart from their official clothing, there are several other aspects of their overall look that they must tend to. Let’s look at them below:
Pilots are not allowed to have piercings except for female pilots who are free to have piercings for earrings only. Any other form of facial piercings for men and even for women is prohibited by the majority of the airlines.
They can keep beards. In fact, as a pilot in most airlines, it is either you are clean-shaven or with a beard. Although, you have to ensure it is nicely trimmed and kept clean always.
When it comes to beards, the focus does not revolve so much around the pilot’s appearance. It borders more on safety reasons.
We’ll tell you how
A vital part of a pilot’s training includes fighting a fire in cases of emergencies. They do this with the help of smoke hoods which helps them combat fire effectively without having to inhale smoke.
These hoods are in form of rubber seals worn around the neck and they work by preventing pilots from breathing in smoke in fire cases.
Stubby, unshaven, or voluminous facial hair would limit the efficacy of this equipment and that is why pilots are required to have nicely trimmed beards or stay clean-shaven.
The issue of tattoo rules differs from one establishment to another. Some airlines do disapprove of visible tattoos. This means that you can have tattoos as long as they stay hidden while on duty.
If your tattoos can still be seen even after wearing the uniform, you would have to get it hidden by wearing a long-sleeved shirt or other means.
There are still a few crops of establishments that allow visible tattoos even while on duty.
At the same time, we have airlines that say an emphatic No to tattoos whether visible or invisible. One of such airline is Air China.
At the point of employment, this would be seen to along with other medical examinations that will be carried out on the intending employee. Any person that is found to have tattoos would be automatically and unfortunately dropped.
For most airlines, hats form a part of the overall uniform. Although they are to remove it immediately they enter the cockpit.
It is unsure why they have to remove their hats once inside the cockpit but, one thing we do know is that they are very free to relax the rules a little behind closed doors.
This means that, they can take their hats off, roll sleeves, remove or relax their ties and so on.
It is important to note that these rules will differ from one airline to another. While some are more tolerant, others do take it seriously.
Therefore, you having a tattoo, piercings, or anything of the sort, does not necessarily mean that you cannot be a pilot, it only limits the airlines that you might be able to work for.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of footwear should a pilot wear?
Ideally, lace-up black shoes are more practical for pilots to wear. They fit properly and would not easily pull off in cases of emergency as loafers or sandals would.
It has been quite a tussle getting female pilots eligible to wear uniforms at all. As a matter of fact, it has been quite a tussle to even have female pilots to begin with.
The profession used to be dominated by men. Even when a commercial airline in the United States eventually had a female pilot come on board in the year 1934, she was unjustly forced to step down by the all-male pilot union after working a little more than a year.
Thankfully, things are different now. Male and females have equal rights to become pilots if they so desire. Furthermore, suitable variations are being made to the uniforms now to better accommodate female pilots.
Notwithstanding, even with the notable difference in male and female pilots uniforms, one thing that we all can agree on, is that the end goal of professionalism is still achieved.