Star Trek TOS costumes

The 25 most out-of-this world costumes in Star Trek: TOS

Contributed by
Sep 26, 2016

Fashion boldly went where it hadn’t gone before in the 1960s, with retro-futurism putting what we wore through a hyperdrive that shortened skirts, lengthened hair and splashed everything in alien brights and hallucinogenic color palettes, not to mention enough metallic lamé to be detected by telescopes on Earth from light years away. Fashion luminaries like Pierre Cardin, Mary Quant and Biba (who inspired Star Trek designer William Theiss) were radiant as alien stars on the Paris and Milan runways—and that can be taken literally considering the amount of sparkle that strutted down the catwalk.

The influence of this fashionably liberating era reaches all the way into the 2300s with uniforms, space suits, and extraterrestrial finery that mutated from those iconic trends. Rigelians rock neon faux fur. Vulcans know how to bring the bling. Elasians outshine everyone. Even the human crew of the Starship Enterprise have pulled off everything from glitter to gems to allover gold. So, put down the fashion mag and take a trip back (and forward) in time and space for some of the trippiest costumes in the Star Trek: TOS universe. 


Eve’s un-outerwear, Season 1 Episode 6

Not only is Eve Huron’s dazzlingly pink dress in "Mudd’s Women" a disco ball ahead of its time, since disco didn’t spark an inferno until the '70s, but wearing it seems to transform even the most blinding space weather into a party. Not that sequined minidresses are now en vogue as outerwear on foreign planets. Eve just wants to flee from womanizer Mudd’s harem and even a Rigelian magnetic dust storm is preferable to being treated like a human(oid) doll. 

Lokai’s gray area, Season 3 Episode 15

Can’t decide which of your skin tones to complement? Try both at once. The literally two-faced alien Lokai in Let That Be Your Last Battle obviously couldn’t decide whether to flatter the black or white side of his face, so he settled for the color in between before seeking asylum on the Enterprise. His sworn enemy of the same species must have also been thinking in terms of draped gray pajamas. At least these extraterrestrials prefer one shade of gray to fifty.


Kirk and Spock’s uni-formal regalia, recurring

How do you make a Starfleet uniform event (or tribunal)-appropriate? Bedazzle it. The formal versions of Spock and Kirk's costumes see their everyday spandex traded in for shinier polyester satin with a considerable dose of bling. Of course, the captain just has to have a little bit more of that distinguished metallic gold. Spock lucked out with the extra sparkle. Intergalactic glamour in the courtroom comes in handy if you have incriminating evidence being presented at trial. 


Mudd’s pumpkin coat, Season 1 Episode 6

Harcourt Fenton Mudd is many things: A con man, a thief, a drug dealer...and, apparently, also the Great Pumpkin. The puffy velvet jacket he flashes in "Mudd’s Women," in a Halloween-appropriate shade of orange, matches his flamboyant nature. Not that it makes him any more attractive to the unwilling brides-in-waiting he’s trafficking to Rigel XII. At least looking like a giant gourd will make him that much easier to spot for interstellar police. 


The go-go alien, Season 3 Episode 1

Here’s an idea: If you’re going to trespass on a starship and steal someone’s brain, wear the most outrageous thing you can possibly find instead of head-to-toe black that will make you vanish like, you know, a thief in the night. You might wake the crew with what you’re wearing even if you’ve already incapacitated them. In high-visibility metallic violet, this alien’s minidress and matching go-go boots in "Spock’s Brain" were made for walking — in space.


Furry hallucinations, Season 1 Episode 15

When the atmosphere on a planet makes you hallucinate scenes from Alice in Wonderland — only the era’s unofficial fairy tale — like it does in "Shore Leave," it shouldn’t be any surprise that people show up looking like they drank a little too much of the Mad Hatter’s tea. The Rigelian cabaret girls McCoy’s overactive imagination conjures up could pass for day-glo pink and yellow versions of the flamingoes from the Queen’s croquet court. He obviously doesn’t mind.


Eminarian scuba guards, Season 1 Episode 23

An alien culture strange enough to wage war on computers only to send the losers to disintegration chambers (and this reduces the body count how?) outfits its guards in something equally twisted. The men who take the Enterprise hostage in "A Taste of Armageddon" suit up in what looks like part scuba suit, part shark fin and part medieval redux. Whether or not these things are as waterproof as they look, Spock’s telepathic powers can still get through them.  


T’pau’s Vulcan glam, Season 2 Episode 1

Do not question the fashion choices of the Spock family matriarch. If T’pau is going to decide who her son should marry, then she can still command respect ridiculously bejeweled dress. Nothing can crown this queenly look in "Amok Time" better than a dramatic updo of black and white braids wrapped around each other so many ways, you almost wonder if that’s how she sleeps. Apparently, the most logical race in the universe has the most illogical hair. 


Kirk and Spock’s time warp, Season 1 Episode 21

Your futuristic 23rd century uniform is the last thing you want to wear on a planet where everyone still lives in the mindset (and clothes) of 19th century Earth. You don’t want to stand out when the entire planet is in the throes of some wild Lupercalia festival. Kirk looks like he just sauntered into space from filming a Western in "Return of the Archons," and Spock’s bizarre hooded cloak is a look that can only be described as neo-Victorian vampire monk. 


Glittery Vians, Season 3 Episode 12

If you’re a Vian like the ones in "The Empath" who are bent on abducting human test subjects and putting them through intense suffering, your best bet is to wear vampire-ish silver lamé robes that captivate your victims long enough to get them into a torture chamber. It’s almost as if Bela Lugosi went to Studio 54. Even in an extraterrestrial experiment with a 90% fatality rate, high-voltage robes might at least distract you from imminent death for a few seconds.


All gold everything, Season 1 Episode 2 and Season 1 Episode 4

What could possibly offset all that metallic silver polyester? Metallic gold, of course. The supernova of shine that explodes on Apollo in "Who Mourns For Adonais?" and Kirk in "Mirror, Mirror" and proves not everything that glitters in space is a star. Golden god Apollo, or at least the alien iteration of him, wears the precious metal from his toga to his gladiator sandals to his unnatural laurel crown. Kirk is a golden god in his metallic tunic with the epaulets to match.


Capellan rug couture, Season 2 Episode 11

Why exactly people considered throw rugs a fashion statement in the '60s, we’ll never know, but the poncho makes a comeback in "Friday’s Child" with a flat leathery headpiece that looks as if it could be some extraterrestrial homage to the Middle Ages. This one’s also got the layered look down with a bright green that couldn’t possibly clash more with that whole pseudo-royal ensemble. Don’t insult him if you intend to stay alive long enough to negotiate. 


Korob’s cloak of wonders, Season 2 Episode 7

Mustard yellow isn’t just for vintage appliances. In "Catspaw," extraterrestrial voodoo master Korob shows up resplendent in the color that must have been responsible for the most kitchen remodels in recent history. It also looks like Apollo’s shimmery gold toga has found a second life on his jewel-encrusted robe. If you don’t want this sadist dangling the voodoo doll of your starship into imminent danger, just swallow really hard and compliment his sense of style.


The new nude look, Season 3 Episode 14

The nude look was big in the '60s, from lips to platforms to pleather micro-minidresses, so the most natural thing to do when your complexion is a radioactive shade of green is to flatter it with a jungle-vine print in a similar hue. At least this is what “nude” means on the poisonous planet in "Whom Gods Destroy." Whatever fashion magazines they’re reading in Elba II, colors that match skin tones normally classified as human are probably their idea of outlandish.


Flint’s psychedelic vintage, Season 3 Episode 19

An onslaught of the metallic paisley and lavish robes is what you get when you catapult Julius Caesar into the psychedelia of the '60s. At least the immortal Flint from "Requiem for Methuselah" could have been Julius Caesar in one of the many lives he’s lived since ancient Mesopotamia, and if not, he was obviously someone else who was really into flashy robes. Who can really blame him? When you’ve been alive since 3834 B.C., togas become boring after a while. 


Holographic aliens, Season 3 Episode 11

Because glittery metallic silver just isn’t enough sometimes, it now comes in holographic on the planet Scalos. Wearing all holo everything in "Wink of an Eye," the Scalosians probably think they have a better chance of mesmerizing the Enterprise crew into giving their sterile race fresh DNA. Maybe the extra rainbows were meant to block the radiation on their home planet—not that it’s done much good considering their insides have pretty much been microwaved. 


Galt’s vamp chic, Season 2 Episode 16

There are vampires in space, too, or at least that seems to be Master Thrall Galt’s scare tactic in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" when he looms over Kirk in a long black robe with a spooky blood count collar in sanguine red glitter (perfect for that fashionably undead complexion of his). Scarier than the electro-shock collars Galt forces Enterprise crew to wear while playing his sick sadistic games is the even more shocking blue his eyes flash when orders are disobeyed. 


Tellarite duct tape uniforms, Season 2 Episode 10

It’s a perfectly logical conclusion that there must be duct tape in another galaxy somewhere, or else the swine-humanoid Tellarites wouldn’t be showing up to dinner in it (or at least something that looks eerily like it). Their uniforms are even colorblocked in all the shades of the duct tape spectrum. If "Journey to Babel" involved a duct tape costume contest instead of serious negotiations about Federation business, they’d get the shiny plastic trophy. 

Argelian hula skirts, Season 2 Episode 14

The Argelian dancers in "Wolf in the Fold" have kept something remotely resembling the hula alive on a distant planet, except they redefine those infamous party-store skirts in electric pink Easter grass, which sensually sways to the floor and doubles as waist-length hair extensions. You can only imagine the horror at a traditional luau if these aliens ever landed in the middle of one. Good thing they’re probably thousands of light-years away from Hawaii. 


Ambassador Petri’s rainbow, Season 3 Episode 13

When you’re a royal arranged to be married to even more posh royalty, the least you can do to meet your mystery fiancée is get peacocked up in paisley and every metallic color in the known universe and a blingy brooch — who cares whether or not it goes with your minty complexion? That seems to be what Ambassador Petri of Troius thinks will impress the princess Elaan in "Elaan of Troius." “Thinks” is the operative word here. Now we know the real reason she hooked up with Kirk. 


Kirk and Spock’s TV Space Suits, Season 3 Episode 9

While space suits at the time of the moon landing were white with round helmets (much like they are today), space suits in the year 2267 are apparently supposed to make you look you’re wearing a silver TV on your head and the rest of you is wrapped in foil like a TV dinner. Not to mention those glittery tubes that accessorize them in "The Tholian Web." Sometimes, your fashion sense has to suffer if you’re going to stay alive in web of destructive energy. 


Ruk’s Mixed-Media Puffer, Season 1 Episode 7

Who says you have to be human to wear something outrageously out of this world? Android Ruk’s floral-lined, vampire-collared puffer jacket is like Lurch meets Dracula meets My Little Pony. This freakish and floral mashup from "What Are Little Girls Made of?" also couldn’t go without a galaxy of sequins. You can only wonder the same mad scientist who created Ruk and his fellow assembly-line androids also tried his hand at Frankenstein-ing fashion.


Extraterrestrial hippies, Season 3 Episode 20

Psychedelic patterns? Check. Magic bus atmosphere? Check. Flower child face paint? Check. An alien band like Bob Dylan crossed with Jimmy Buffett? Check and check. Anarchist Dr. Sevrin (Velvet Underground reference, anyone?) and his hippie cohorts make a free-thinking fashion statement draped in trippy mismatched swirls, stripes and dots. It’s the kind of thing someone would wear on an Eden-esque planet where everything turns out to be poisonous. 


Solar-powered Elasian guards, Season 3 Episode 13

Why just sparkle when you can blind? That must have been the mantra of Princess Elaan’s Elasian guards in "Elaan of Troius," who may not radiate sunshine but actually look like the star we orbit thanks to glitter, glitter and more glitter. The shine factor alone is enough to give off serious UV rays. If these uniforms, if you can even call them uniforms, were meant to keep Kirk away from the princess without the guards themselves lifting a finger, it didn’t work.  


Kirk and Spock’s toga party, Season 3 Episode 10

Toga! Toga! Toga! Kirk and Spock literally go back to the future in "Plato’s Stepchildren" when a Platonian punishment lands them in fashionably draped curtains and shimmering gold (of course) laurels instead of a jail cell. The unwilling frat boys are forced to sing and dance like a bad American Idol audition. Note to self: this is what you get when you don’t allow your ship’s doctor to cure every sick alien on a planet where everyone lives in ancient Greece. 

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