Women aviators have always been a great inspiration for fashion designers and Amelia Earhart often reappeared here and there on fashion runways. Yet there are other ways to get inspired by aviator suits: looking for example at their construction is a great way to find inspiration for both men and womenswear.
The images in this post features for example a display at London's Science Museum and shows various garments and accessories. In between a sector clock, boots and helmets, there is a Second World War Bomber Crew outfit that looks particularly interesting. Cold was severe for the bomber crews of World War II, especially for gunners who had no access to the heated parts of the airplanes.
Outfits such as this one were therefore worn over the uniform, providing good insulation, even though they were extremely bulky for the confined spaces of the aircraft. The zippers running along the length of the legs are definitely the best details in this suit: they would have a functional purpose as they allowed a crew member to easily get in and out of the protective outfit, but such details could be recreated for modern garments and zippers could be used as decorative elements or as functional parts.
The bomber crew outfit in this display is accessorised with a helmet, goggles, oxygen mask with microphone and lead and mask tube, cape leather flying gauntlets and knee length boots.
Zippers were often employed in military outfits: the German black suede waterproof fleece-lined flying boots from 1936 included in this display featured a practical zip and were lined with fleece (boots could become waterlogged when the aircrew crossed a wet airfield, and the boots may have therefore frozen at high altitude). Leather flying helmets in this display featured fittings for goggles, oxygen masks, electric headphones, and microphones as well, and included zipped ear pockets. The helmets came in leather or fabrics, like the one produced for the US Army Air Force by the Bated Shoe Company in 1944.
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