RAF Stewardess’ Jacket

The roles open to women in the RAF in the 1970s were somewhat more limited than they are today, but one area where many women served was a cooks and stewardesses. The 1971 WRAF recruitment pamphlet explained:

Every day about 100,000 men and women in the Royal Air Force must be fed with well-cooked nourishing meals. Women do highly essential jobs as cooks and stewardesses. They cook in airmen’s sergeants’ or officers’ messes: stewardesses wait at table in officers’ or sergeants’ messes. They might be employed as batwomen. There are also limited opportunities to serve in an airborne role as air stewardesses.

Stewardesses wore a distinctive uniform consisting of RAF blue grey skirt, blouse, tie and a white stewardess’ jacket:imageIt is one of these jackets we are looking at tonight:imageThe jacket is a simple white cotton garment, secured at the front by a pair of removable RAF staybrite buttons:imageStitched eyelets are fitted to each shoulder to allow shoulder boards with badges of rank to be worn:imageThe style of this garment very much reflects the jackets that have been worn by waiters and service staff in expensive restaurants since the beginning of the twentieth century. The white colour shows up any stains, which helps show the customer, or in this case the sergeants and officers, that the garment is indeed clean. The removable buttons and shoulder boards were essential as it allowed the garment to be washed, bleached and starched regularly without damaging them. The inside of this garment has the usual label, strangely though someone has blacked out the part of the description relating to the jacket being for women and a stewardess:imageI am not sure whether the sizing here is the army’s usual system of sizes where each increment means a different height, waist of chest size, or a more conventional sizing where it is actually a woman’s size 6 jacket in the traditional civilian sense.image

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.