Amelia Earhart had her own clothing line.

  • Amelia Earhart portrait
Amelia Earhart portrait
Credit: Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo/ Alamy Stock Photo

Amelia Earhart broke into an almost entirely male-dominated profession to become one of the most famous aviators of all time, but being one of a small handful of female pilots came with plenty of obstacles. One of the more annoying problems was a lack of flight apparel designed to fit women’s bodies. At the beginning of her career, Earhart was saddled with ill-fitting clothing designed for men, which only bolstered her lifelong interest in fashion. As a child, Earhart sewed clothing for herself and her dolls; later in life, she had a reputation for wearing practical clothing, much of which was custom-made.

In 1933, with a couple of transatlantic flights under her belt, Earhart released Amelia Fashions, a clothing line “for the woman who lives actively”; while some of the line was made for aviation, some of it was just stylish and comfortable. Earhart didn’t just lend her name to the label — she approved every step of the process and helped sew some of the garments, too. Many of the designs incorporated aviation materials, such as buttons and buckles made of ball bearings, oil cups, and bolts. Some shirts were made from parachute silk and included tails, which were mostly exclusive to menswear at the time. She also designed hats, which she used as prizes for flying contests with the Ninety-Nines, an all-woman aviation society she helped establish. What ultimately doomed the clothing line was that Earhart cared too much about it, and she found that working as a full-time designer took her focus away from flying and lecturing.

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