Published Jan 5, 2019
Star Trek's Best Looks, Ranked
A guide to Star Trek's most sartorial ensembles!
By Jordan Hoffman
Much of the fun of Star Trek conventions comes from wandering around and seeing everyone in costumes. It's great to see so many folks in Federation uniforms, but I always delight in some of the more esoteric sartorial choices. In Las Vegas, I saw a guy dressed as Kryton the Elasian security chief from “Elaan of Troyius” and nearly lost my mind.
There are literally hundreds of strange and silly outfits from the Star Trek Universe. I don't know if I could ever pick the best. Heck, I don't know if I could pick the best out of Deanna Troi's closet. Do I go with the classic, one-piece purple number, or her ankle-length, turquoise dress? Oh, why oh why would I ever want to choose? Isn't Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations worth anything anymore?!
All I can say is that what follows are 10 costumes that tickle me. Let's take a look back, have a laugh and then you can tell me all the ones I should have picked instead.
10. Ambassador T'Pel
What seems, at first, to be just a small part of “Data's Day” turns out to have the most interplanetary intrigue. (Sorry Chief O'Brien, your pre-wedding jitters with Keiko take something of a backseat.)
Check out what this less-than-warm-and-fuzzy Vulcan is wearing. A blue felt cone hat with a leather band, an upside-down triangle patch with an emblem, and that's just the beginning. There's all sorts of elaborate chin straps and material wrapped around and dangling from her neck, plus a necklace that looks, at first glance, like a chest plate. Is this degree of adornment logical? Absolutely not. Which is why it comes as no surprise at the end that T'Pel is actually a Romulan spy!
9. Enterprise Security from TMP-era.
This is a long way from a simple red shirt.
It wasn't just the Enterprise that was refit for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Most noticeable were the uniforms, doing away with the bright primary colors and going for more hushed earth tones. Then there were those odd buckles at the center of the one-piece jumpsuits or at the bottom of tunics. (If you dig deep, you'll read that they were medical scanner/receivers called perscans.) Anyway, all of this pales compared to what the security teams were wearing at the time. The maroon rugby helmets with Starfleet insignias right at the center plus heavy leather vests with plastic casing are unlike anything else ever worn by crew-members of the Enterprise.
8. Dr. Crusher & Counselor Troi at the Gym
If it was just one of them, maybe it wouldn't be so infamous. But it's side-by-side, with Dr. Crusher in colors that make her look like Kermit the Frog and Counselor Troi in a contraption that probably doesn't offer her the support that she needs that really takes it. Although, maybe gravity is different on a Galaxy-class ship?
It was a mandate from NBC, then owned by RCA, who were trying to push new color sets — keep Star Trek bright! So even in the inky blackness of space (or caught in an inter-dimensional phase) it was important to have splashes of blue and red.
Then there's the headpiece. Not sure if they're drying laundry or beaming to a planet of beekeepers. All I know is that as a kid I thought this was the COOLEST thing I'd ever seen. (Okay, obviously I still think it's pretty cool.)
6. The Rank-and-File from Eminiar VII
Those of you who read One Trek Mind, like one of Surak's pupils know, I rarely miss an opportunity to mention “A Taste of Armageddon.” It isn't my favorite episode, but it's the one that really sold me on becoming a Trek fan. Anyway, you gotta love the costumes of the average citizen of Eminiar VII.
This really has everything – a turtleneck with a mesh sash, an insignia, a holster for a strange looking weapon, and a kind of Cubist-looking toque. Who knows why they need their ears covered inside, but these are not exactly the most logical of people. Keep in mind they have a tendency to incinerate themselves when computers tell them to. Pound for pound this episode has some of the most far-out storytelling, and it is well matched by the production design.
5. Anbo-Jyutsu Uniforms
The family that plays vaguely Japanese violent sports together stays together!
Will Riker and his father Kyle work out their differences by bowing at one another, then beating each other up with sticks. The costumes might resemble what Bob and Doug McKenzie wear in Strange Brew, but that only adds to the charm. While Parrises Squares was a more popular game, those uniforms (bright blue spandex) didn't have half the swagger that the Anbo-Jyutsu ones had.
4. Wesley's Rainbow Sweater
Well, you knew this was coming. Poor Wesley. The Traveler compared him to Mozart and Picard still told him to shut up. I was the same age as Wesley was when I was watching (actually, he was a year or two older, maybe), so I'm not ashamed to say I connected with him. (But I wasn't quite so good at computers as he was; once we moved from programming in BASIC to Pascal, I was pretty much lost.) Anyway, my mother bought me ugly-looking sweaters, too, so this vestiary embarrassment helped me get through a lot of rough afternoons.
If these suits didn't have detachable gloves, how many headaches would that have saved?
There aren't too many moments when Star Trek's sets and costumes get so cheesy that you laugh out loud. This show ain't Lost in Space. But even I, a fan to my last breath, has to admit that this looks flat-out ridiculous. And that's why I love it! Legend goes that the reason it looks so much like a shower curtain … is that it IS a shower curtain! Nice that the tops are flat, probably adds a little ventilation around the scalp.
2. I Am Not a Merry Man!
For all of Q's sins, we still owe him plenty of thanks. In “Qpid,” the omniscient being you love to hate sends Picard and company off to the Sherwood Forest, to save Vash (who, I've always suspected, thinks this whole thing is a scream.) Everybody gets a doofy costume, but it's Worf as Will Scarlet – enormous belt-buckle, gold buttons and white feather in his red cap – that brings the house down. Oh, Worf, don't pretend you don't like playing dress-up!
1. Picard's Dress Uniform
Season One of The Next Generation, you were doing so many things. You dove headfirst into the plasma pool of Utopianism in ways that broadened the Original Series. For starters, it was “where no one has gone before.” This egalitarianism of the sexes was quite noticeable in the somewhat notorious “skant,” a half skirt, half jumpsuit that some women and some men chose to wear on the Enterprise. We never saw any bridge officers rockin' the full skant, but we did see Picard and Riker in this somewhat formal dress uniform. Not that it doesn't look nice! In fact, it always bugged me that we didn't see it more. I like the decorative element from pips to the neckline, especially.
Now, before you start screaming at me on Facebook, keep in mind there were about 15 ties for 11th place. But sometimes you have to make decisions. That's how we defeated the Dominion! (Oh, crap, there's absolutely nothing here from DS9, is there?) Anyway, now's your chance to sound off.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.