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Feature
The Evolution Of The Star Trek Uniform
Fashion aboard the USS Enterprise

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Even leaving aside all the spin-off series and Next Generation films, the Starfleet uniform of the original Enterprise crew has changed considerably over the years. From the brightly coloured and iconic looks of the '60s through the neutral monstrosities of The Motion Picture and back again, this uniform is more than just something for Captain Kirk to shred so he can better show his manly chest. We called our fashion expert, Hello Tailor's Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, to talk us through the history of the Enterprise style...

WORDS GAVIA BAKER-WHITELAW
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The Original Series

Even Star Trek’s most devoted fans wouldn’t dare claim that the original series was a high-budget operation. In among the cardboard sets, guest stars had to wear a selection of costumes that ran the gamut from the baffling (an evil baby in a silver lamé toga; girls in hot-pink fur bikinis) to the plain ugly. In one early episode, an entire alien species is kitted out in a vaguely familiar fabric that one later realises is also used for all the bedspreads on-board the Enterprise.

But in the original series Starfleet uniform, Star Trek struck costuming gold.

Star Trek

The red shirt / blue shirt / gold shirt uniforms are an undeniable classic: simple enough to look good on a small budget, and lacking in the kind of retro-futuristic details that might feel dated forty years on – not to mention that the colour coding can be very useful. The bright colours meant you could pick out characters on the small screen (very small in those days), and it’s easy to figure out that each shirt represents a different department: blue for sciences, gold for command, and red for security and engineering. The concept of the doomed “redshirt” security guy has stretched so far beyond a geeky in-joke that it’s even inspired a popular sci-fi novel - Redshirts by John Scalzi - and a fragrance (“Because tomorrow may never come.”)

Star Trek Red Shirts

The only downside of 1960s (or rather 2260s) Starfleet fashion was the dress uniform: shiny, ill-fitting, and involving more gold braid than anyone but Liberace would feel comfortable wearing. Captain Kirk’s was particularly embarrassing, featuring a lime green jacket and a scattering of futuristic “medals” that made it look like a child had crazy-glued cake decorations to Shatner’s chest. That caveat aside, the Original Series made Starfleet look cool.

Star Trek

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Your Comments

1 Star Trek - Into Dark Charcoal
Maybe Empire will reboot the article, make it all look better in the new article, and call the old article the Prime Version. More

Posted by KHeasman76 on Monday May 13, 2013, 16:10

2 RE: The Missing Generation
Typically, Empire puts up a great piece that nobody else is addressing, and the forum responds with complaints about what's not there without a word about what is. This is fascinating stuff; good work Gavia. More

Posted by David Somerset on Saturday May 11, 2013, 23:35

3 The Missing Generation
It does seem strange to include the classic TOS uniform from television and to miss off the three TNG uniforms that were shown in four films from Generations and First Contact until Nemesis. Including those outfits would have covered off TNG/DS9 and Voyager without even venturing away from the cinematic theme. More

Posted by jaideco on Saturday May 11, 2013, 14:31

4 So...
Is this the evolution of Trek outfits, but only if Kirk and friends are involved? More

Posted by rich on Friday May 10, 2013, 23:54

5 ST TNG DS9 VOY????
Where is TNG, DS9 and VOY???? You can't skip them and those ones are even more impotrant that 2 new motion pictures! More

Posted by Max Krause on Friday May 10, 2013, 17:47

6 Where is the section on TNG and DS9 style uniforms !
You can't have a Star Trek uniform "chronology" without them. More

Posted by koit on Friday May 10, 2013, 17:21

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