TWA AIRLINE BAG (c. 1950)

The decade of the 1950s was the golden age of air travel. More and more people were taking to the skies, but not so many that it had lost its aura and glamour and sophistication.

By 1955, more American citizens were travelling by plane than train, and by the end of the decade, transatlantic flight had largely replaced the ocean-liner crossing. This was the age of impeccably groomed stewardesses – those starlets of the sky – and passengers dressed up for the occasion, too. What more appropriate way to complete an ensemble that to carry an airline bag on board?

A Pan Am bag from Marc Jacobs released in 2007

Mass-produced through they might-be, these simple, practical bags instantly conveyed cool cosmopolitanism. They usually came in a standard form and size (rectangular body, adjustable strap and zipped side pocket). What differed was the company livery, turning them into mobile advertisements. Many a Hollywood actress was photographed at an airport arrivals lounge clutching a PanAm or TWA airline bag with the company logo prominently on display.

Air travel has long since lost its novelty, and onboard bags are now just another thing to worry about in the business of flying. Back on the ground, however, adding a vintage 1950s airline bag to a contemporary outfit can lend a witty note of kitsh retro glamor.