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Film Studies 101
Feature
The Evolution Of The Star Trek Uniform
Fashion aboard the USS Enterprise

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The Motion Picture

Sadly, the old uniforms didn’t make it into the movies. When Star Trek: The Motion Picture went into production in the late ‘70s, the brightly coloured shirts were rejected as too garish, and the miniskirts worn by Uhura and most female crewmembers seemed like a dated relic of the sexist ‘60s. Instead Gene Roddenberry, together with acclaimed costume designer Robert Fletcher, created a Starfleet uniform that is now remembered as the nadir of Star Trek movie costuming mistakes.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Intended to avoid comparisons with military uniforms, the new costumes used “natural” fabrics that went through some sort of Uncanny Valley of costume design, ultimately succeeding in looking as unnatural as humanly possible. In a colour scheme ranging from pale blue to unsettlingly flesh-toned beige and brown, everyone on the Enterprise was shoehorned into an unflattering selection of jumpsuits and surgical scrubs. In one scene, Kirk wore a white tunic that serves the dual purpose of showing off William Shatner’s middle-aged arm hair, and making him look like he’d been moonlighting as an attendant at a health spa.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The end result is distractingly ugly (background extras occasionally looked naked, thanks to their skin-coloured bodysuits), and weirdly impractical. The original colour-coded uniforms were inspired by those worn on the flight deck of aircraft carriers, where extreme noise levels meant personnel had to be able to recognise one other’s function at a glance. Not only was it impossible to tell people’s rank and department using the new Starfleet uniforms, but the supposedly futuristic bodysuits had matching shoes attached to the trousers, meaning that actors had to get an assistant to help them when they went to the bathroom. Happily for all of us, the cast rebelled, and refused to wear the nightmarish fleshbag suits for another movie.

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Have Your Say
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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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