Star Trek got many things right when it comes to “future” technology. The communicator influenced the mobile phone, the Padd from STNG looks very similar to a tablet computer and The X Prize Foundation is offering a $10 Million prize to any company that can develop a working tricorder. Even The US Navy got in on the game by using the Original Series bridge design as an influence for their Master Communications Centre in San Diego
But one area Star Trek has struggled in is fashion. Agreed, the original Series uniforms are now considered a design classic and Shinzon’s outfit in Star Trek Nemesis was quite cool, but Star Trek on the whole has had more that its fair share of clothing disasters.
Science fiction on TV & film has to create a setting that is believable to the people who watch it at the time its shot, and that includes clothing.
The Original Series mostly went down the skimpy outfit route or the all-in-one jumpsuits with bits stuck on. By the 1980’s, the Next Generation thought in the future, people would be mainly wearing pastel colors and beige.
But once the year 2000 finally arrived and the disappointment set in when we realized that the new century will not be that different from the decade we just left, “future fashion” became more grounded in reality and in came leather jackets and non descript tops.
The costumes in the original series may look camp and kitschy by today’s standards but taken in conjunction with the sets, special effects and style of storytelling, they are a product from a different time, a time when 1990 was a future with moon bases and interstellar spaceflight. Because of this, they can be judged accordingly but unfortunately for TNG, DS9 and Voyager, their future fashion hasn’t dated quite so well.
So after trawling through the various series and movies, here’s my rundown of the worst in Star Trek attire.
Jean Luc Picard - The Next Generation
I’ll start with a series that’s a serial offender; Star Trek The Next Generation.
Jean Luc Picard doesn’t usually take time off, if he does he would much rather visit an archaeological dig than a pleasure planet like Risa. But that’s exactly what he does in the third season episode Captain’s Holiday.
Before leaving the ship, Captain Picard packs his bags wearing a striking pale blue, collarless shirt. Half shirt and half venetian blind, its defiantly a shirt only a brave man like Captain Picard can get away with.
On Risa, Picard shows us that hes no prude by slipping on a pair of extremely tight, latex, hot pants and reading a book. It works for him because he’s soon involved with a lady called Vash who takes Picard to do what he loves to do in his spare time, digging for artefacts.
But before that, Picard changes into a low hanging blouse and beige cardigan. Beige appears to be the colour of choice in the 24th century. A lot of civilisations in the Milky Way appear to wear nothing else but the inoffensive colour so its not surprising Picard does as well.
Jake Sisko - Deep Space Nine
You have to feel sorry for Jake Sisko. Not only does he have to go through puberty living on a Cardassian Space Station, but also the only clothes he has to look his best around the very few girls that are his age are the fine examples we have above.
Looking like a cross between a silky bed sheet and a bus seat, if everyone wore these colourful creations, they could have been the best defence in keeping the Dominion out of the Alpha quadrant.
Shahna - The Original Series
Shahna in The Original Series episode ‘’Gamesters of Triskelion’’ is trapped on a planet where she has to participate in gladiatorial bouts while faceless aliens gamble on the outcome. And she has to do it wearing a reflective, tin foil swimsuit.
William Ware Thesis did some amazing work when it came to designing costumes for the original series. Often having very limited budget and material to work with, he would still manage to make the women in Star Trek look elegant and attractive. Unfortunately, on this occasion he was wide of the mark.
Gunian - The Next Generation
Gunian, bar tender and ear to the captain on the federation flagship. Woopie Goldberg approached the producers of STNG because she was a huge fan of Star Trek and wanted a part on the show. But in return for her enthusiasm, she was forced to wear these garish creations. But the hats would come in handy if you are a bartender, you can carry more drinks.
Ben, the other bar tender doesn’t fair any better. It’s a good thing they only serve synthol because you wouldn’t want to be looking at those outfits after having one too many.
The Gorn - Various
The Gorn. Aggressive lizard warriors with an equally fierce fashion sense. Nothing scares your enemy more than a red and gold all-in-one dress with colour coordinated gloves.
Pavel Chekov - The Search for Spock
From Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Nothing compliments a comedy Russian accent more than a pink bellboy outfit with collars that resemble a neck brace.
Riker - The Next Generation
In the first season episode ‘Angel One,’ the Enterprise visits a planet that is ruled by women. Riker is handed an outfit that is worn by the men of the planet but even Riker can’t pull the camp pirate look off.
Neelix - Voyager
Neelix, Chef and moral officer on the USS Voyager. He was always there when a member of the crew needed some emotional support or a nice meal. Loved by some but hated by most, dressing him up like an 1980’s couch certainly wasn’t going to make him popular.
Markovs - Voyager
The tradition of alien civilisations wearing almost exactly the same clothes continued in Star Trek Voyager. This example from “Time & Again” deviated from the fashionable 24th century beige but did leave me craving a Rowntrees Fruit Pastel Lolly.
Ba’ku - Insurrection
The Ba’ku from Star Trek Insurrection may have found the secret to eternal youth and lived for hundreds of years but it appears that no one in that time decided to become a fashion designer. Also, the Ba’ku were one of the dullest people the Enterprise crew ever had the misfortune to visit and that was defiantly expressed through their fashion sense.
The Edo - The Next Generation
From the TNG episode “Justice”. Memorable for being the episode where Wesley Crusher is sentenced to death for trampling on some flowers. If they are so quick to hand out a harsh punishment for a minor crime like stepping on a flower bed, then why is the general population not on death row for wearing this?
Male Crew - The Next Generation
Seen early on in The Next Generation, this dress/skirt uniform worn by male crew members was obviously designed to show that in the 24th century, clothes had moved on from being gender specific and in this case, men happily walked around wearing uniforms that resembled short dresses.
I actually don’t think this looks that bad but I would like a pair of Starfleet tights to go with it. And going commando would not be an option.
So beware, if Star Trek is good at predicting what we will be wearing as it is with the technology we use, we may all be in trouble
This article was first posted on April 6, 2012