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I’m a flight attendant. I thought I’d get a cute uniform — but in reality, I just get sweaty legs and blisters on my feet.

Ayla Murick

Courtesy of Ayla Murick

  • Ayla Murick is a regional flight attendant who doesn’t like her uniform.
  • Growing up, she saw flight attendants in fashionable outfits. Her airline’s uniforms aren’t, though.
  • “I think airlines should relax the rules more so they aren’t so confining and outdated,” she said.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ayla Murick, a regional flight attendant who doesn’t like her uniform. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to become a flight attendant. I’ve always loved traveling, and I have a goal to visit every country in the world. It seemed like getting to fly for free as a flight attendant was the best option to make that dream happen. 

I started that career nine years ago, and I’ve been able to travel to 48 states. My airline doesn’t fly internationally, so during my time off, I pay to go to places like New Zealand, South Korea, Argentina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Cuba, Greece, Ireland, and Germany. 

While I love the flexibility and responsibilities of this job, one part of being a flight attendant that’s always bugged me is that the uniforms we have to wear are pretty awful. Here’s why.

The uniforms aren’t as exciting as I thought they’d be 

Growing up, I thought flight attendants wore such fashionable outfits. But my company’s uniforms are anything but fashionable.

Ayla Murick

Courtesy of Ayla Murick

I’ll never forget the first time I tried on the uniform in 2014. It was a white shirt with navy pants and a vest. My mom told me I looked like a bartender at a fancy restaurant, not a flight attendant. 

Most of our uniforms are completely navy, so you end up looking like a blob of color when you put it on. When I’m not at work, my personal style includes wearing darker colors and bold or sparkly accessories. I wish I could look more like me when I’m at work.

Even now, seeing the cool uniforms that flight attendants wear at other airlines, like Emirates or Air New Zealand, makes me wish that what I was allowed to wear was more exciting. 

The options are limited 

We’re allowed to wear skirts, dresses, and pants. There are two types of dresses — one is long-sleeved with buttons in the middle and a belt, so it’s more flattering. 

The short-sleeved dress doesn’t have buttons or a belt, and looks like a navy burlap sack. It’s not flattering for most body types to wear. 

We’re only given a small allotment of around $300 a year to buy uniform pieces. You can buy other pieces with your own money or shop in the airline’s used uniform store to buy items that ex-flight attendants have returned. A dress costs around $100, shirts are $30 to $60, and a jacket is around $200. 

I usually have to replace my wardrobe on a yearly basis

The uniforms rip from all the wear and tear throughout the work year, meaning we have to get new ones. 

The first year, we’re only given a few pieces (two shirts, one skirt, and one pair of pants). When you’re new, you can’t really afford to buy new ones, so you find yourself wearing the same thing to work. 

Personally, I’ve spent quite a bit of my own money throughout the years buying extra uniform items. But most of my money goes to alterations, since the uniforms don’t fit well. The company doesn’t pay for alterations or cleaning. That’s on us to do. 

To save money, I don’t dry clean my uniform. I wash it on a gentle cycle and hang it to dry.

The rules are strict 

The rules are pretty tight around any changes we make to the uniforms. For example, dresses and skirts have to be two inches above the knee. Shoes aren’t provided, but we technically have to get them approved — especially our boots, which can’t have any buckles or laces and have to be solid black. 

We’re also not allowed to wear ankle boots. They have to be knee length, or below the knee. 

When it comes to jewelry, what you wear has to be silver, gold, or rose gold. We can only have two piercings in each ear, and only recently did they allow nose piercings and visible tattoos, as long as they are the size of our badge or smaller. 

The uniforms are uncomfortable 

It feels like the uniforms are meant to make us look professional and easily identifiable, but they’re not at all practical for the job we do.

For example, the short-sleeve dress is really tight in the armpit area, so when we’re sitting in our jump seats and have to reach up to grab the phone, our uniform can stretch or rip. The pants are polyester on the outside and lined with a silky fabric, so you find yourself sweating when it’s hot out. The pants are sticking to your leg. 

Ideally, it would be great to wear something more comfortable, since our job involves constantly moving around and reaching for things. I wish we could wear gym shoes, since we’re standing all day, and I usually go home with blisters from the boots I’m wearing. It’s hard to find dress shoes that are comfortable. 

The uniforms that female flight attendants wear are made for us to look pretty and aren’t functional. I definitely think airlines should relax the rules more around what a flight attendant can wear so they aren’t so confining and even outdated.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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