Fly With Us: Talking to Cliff Muskiet, Uniform Freak

Fly With Us: Talking to Cliff Muskiet, Uniform Freak

Pins, patches, statuettes: many travelers come home with mementos. But for Dutch flight attendant Cliff Muskiet—whose collection is featured in Mix (September 2012, shown above)—the journey rather then the destination has become the focus of his personal collection—and not just the journey, but the actual flight.

Inside Muskiet’s Amsterdam apartment are 1,131 different uniforms from 443 airlines around the globe. While on frequent trips for work, he continues to scout new pieces to add to his collection. However, there is one item missing: men’s uniforms. “The male uniforms aren’t interesting to me as they are often all dark blue with a tie,” he explains. “You see the change in fashion when you look at female uniforms. There are so many colors and accessories that make it more intriguing for me.”

We talked to Muskiet about his life’s passion.

How long have you been a flight attendant?
I started as a flight attendant with KLM (the national Dutch airline) in 1987. Today, I have a total of 22 years flying and three years on ground.

What was the first uniform in your collection?
When I was 15, I got my first uniform. It was a KLM uniform from 1971, but I got it in 1980 through a friend of my mother. The friend was a part-time stewardess and she had some old pieces that she gave to me. I was very excited, because attaining a uniform is not very easy due to security concerns. Then in 1992 when I was flying for KLM, I was in Ghana and attained another one. I thought hey, why don’t I write more letters to more airlines and try to get more uniforms?

Is that how you get most of the uniforms?
Yes, I try to get in touch with the airlines and visit them abroad when I’m traveling. I also speak with crews when I see them in the airports. Sometimes airlines even contact me and ask if I want a uniform, because they’ve seen my website. I’m always on the search.

What makes a good uniform design, in your opinion?
I like to see hats. For me, the hat is like the icing on the cake; it’s a nice finishing touch that most airlines don’t have. I think it’s also very important that a uniform be colorful. For women’s uniforms, I don’t really like the dark colors and white shirts. It’s so boring!

Which one is your personal favorite out of your collection?
I like the uniforms from the 1970s. The flower power period uniforms were very colorful: orange, red, purple, stripes, flowers, dots, and lots of accessories. But if I had to choose one, my sentimental favorite is my first uniform from KLM. I flew KLM as a kid a lot and now I work for the airline myself, so it’s very special to me.

What is the most obscure uniform you have in your collection?
I got some uniforms from Tyrolean Airways in Austria, they have long dresses that look like national costumes. I have one from Fly Niki, they used to have a very strange uniform in the collection. And I have the uniform from Braniff International with the plastic space helmet.

What does your own uniform look like?
It’s navy blue with a white shirt and we have four different ties we can choose to wear. It has gold and silver buttons on the sleeves. The stripes communicate your position on board: I’m a purser (lead flight attendant) so I have four stripes; assistant purser has three stripes, business class attendants have two stripes, and flight attendants have one stripe.

After 20 years of collecting, what keeps you inspired to add more items?
I don’t know, it’s difficult to describe. I get happy when I travel, and I get happy when I collect uniforms. I feel like a small kid that gets a lollipop. For me, it’s something special. There’s still a piece of glamour in aviation.

See all of Cliff Muskiet’s flight attendant uniforms at