When a franchise like Star Trek has been around for 50 years, certain elements are going to change as time passes. Everything from fashion to technology is going to receive an update, especially since time is supposed to have passed within the universe as well. One of the most memorable ways fans have seen the world of Star Trek change through the decades is in the way Starfleet officers' dress. The uniforms worn by Kirk and Spock, for example, are quite different from what we saw worn by Janeway and Chakotay years later.
In the TV shows and the movies, there have been a lot of different types of uniforms and even different variations within those, considering dress uniform options and others. So which ones were the very best? I looked at the standard uniforms we saw these officers in most often to create a list ranking the worst to the best!
The Motion Picture
All of the glorious color disappeared from the uniforms of Star Trek when the franchise made its leap to the big screen for the first time. I learned in an interview awhile back this was purposely done due to some dislike of the original looks, but I’ll never understand how this was thought to be better. The lack of bright colors makes everyone blend together when they’re next to each other. The beige, white, brown, and blue look drab on every one of the uniform styles worn throughout the film. To me there’s no contest. These are the most dreadful uniforms we’ve seen so far in the franchise!
“The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
The uniforms in these two early episodes stuck with gold, blue, and beige as the main colors for their tops and were matched with dark pants. Long-sleeved and with collars, men and women wore the same style uniform with the only difference seemingly found in the style of the collars. These uniforms lack the fun colors found in the rest of The Original Series, but aren’t quite as lackluster in color and style as those seen in The Motion Picture. The part of these uniforms I like the most is the collar style on the women. It’s not bad and works well with the tops, but overall these are my least favorite uniforms seen in a Star Trek TV show.
Since this show was set before The Original Series, the uniforms had to look like they might be on the way to what we would see in Kirk’s era but balance that they were not quite there yet. The result is an interesting take on the uniform that shares some similarities with what we might see today and what the future would hold for Starfleet fashion. Everyone wore the same type of uniform on Enterprise that was basically a one-piece blue jumpsuit. Lines at the shoulders expressed the divisions and the colors followed The Original Series' designations. They looked much more like flight suits a pilot or astronaut would wear than what we saw on Kirk’s starship, but it made sense for the series. Still, the design while fitting for the show wasn’t exactly anything exceptional that stands out when compared to the others.
The uniforms and their variations in the three Kelvin universe reboot films are interesting new interpretations of the looks from The Original Series. These returned to the original designations for the colors gold, blue, and red with tops matched to dark pants with the option of wearing the classic dress variation also available. Long sleeves and short sleeves are also seen throughout these types. I like the direction they went with overall in the reboot movies. They share enough similarities to be classic looks but have enough differences to make them stand out on their own. They’re perfect counterparts to the prime universe versions. That being said, they are so similar that I also felt I couldn’t put them higher on the list above the following styles!
The Wrath of Khan
This look debuted in The Wrath of Khan and then made appearances in other movies and on TV. I always liked the design of these uniforms with their red tops and dark pants. Even though it meant everyone was in the same color, there’s just something about the dark red! It’s bold, formal, and just makes everyone look good. I still prefer the colors to distinguish between divisions compared to what was used in this design, but other than that this is one of the best uniform designs to debut in a Star Trek film.
The Next Generation crew received a brand new look in this film that would continue in the rest of the movies and also appear in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. The uniforms here get rid of division colors being the main focus. The shoulders became gray and the rest of the uniform was black with the colors relegated to the shirts underneath, only visible at the collars and in the stripes at the wrists of the long sleeves. While I will always prefer the colors being a little more front and center, I have to admit I think this is the best example of how to make them less prominent in a stylish way.
The Original Series
From the standard uniform to the dress uniform variation, I love the look of the classic designs seen in The Original Series. These uniforms were similar to those in the “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Done Before” in that they were often long-sleeved, with rank denoted by stripes at the wrists, and tops matched with dark pants for the men. Unlike those uniforms though, these were in bright colors of green, gold, blue, and red. The collars are not high and the women wear short dresses with tights instead. This basic design was also seen in The Animated Series. I really love the colors and styles of this version of the uniform. While it would have been nice to see a variety among the women, with some wearing pants instead of all in the dresses, I think these uniforms are extremely iconic and perfect for the franchise.
Deep Space Nine and Voyager
This uniform flipped what we saw in The Next Generation. The shoulders became the focus of the division colors here. From there, the rest of the uniform was black. Out of all the uniforms that did away with full-on color, I like these the best. The colors are still very noticeable, taking up all the shoulders, but not as all encompassing. Plus having black for the rest of the uniform really makes the color pop in an obvious way. There’s something very professional and appealing about the look. These uniforms would later disappear on Deep Space Nine when the gray First Contact look takes over, but stuck in the Delta Quadrant the Voyager crew still wore these until the very end. It’s the most well done of the uniforms that tried to do slightly less with the colors, in my opinion.
The Next Generation
The uniforms seen in this show shifted in a few ways over the course of the seasons, but the general look of black shoulders and blue, red, and gold colors on the torso matched to dark bottoms basically remained the same. Dresses and pants are worn by anyone and while I prefer the later seasons' version with the slightly higher collar and removal of the color lines on the shoulders, overall I love the look of the uniforms throughout the show. They do a great job of keeping the bright colors of The Original Series, but using them in a new way. The whole combination makes these uniforms particularly engaging compared to the rest!
Let us know which uniform is your favorite in the comments below!