Zip me up, Scotty: 50 years of Star Trek uniforms

Star Trek

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Star Trek uniforms

Ask any cosplayer: One of the most enduring aspects of Star Trek is the famous Starfleet uniform.

The instantly recognizables colors and iconic pointy badge have been adapted for new TV series’, movies and games from The Original Series up to the latest Trek adventures Discovery, PicardLower Decks and Strange New Worlds. Check out the many outfits worn by the crew of the Enterprise on their continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and boldly look cooler than anyone before.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Originally conceived by costume designer William Ware Theiss, the colorful pop art outfit debuted in 1966 in The Original Series.

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Star Trek: The Animated Series

The multicolored uniforms looked great in the luminous cartoon world of The Animated Series.

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Star Trek movies

In a series of Star Trek movies, the crew of the Enterprise adopted maroon tunics for the big screen.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Aboard Deep Space Nine, a darker version of the uniforms reflected the darker stories told in this series.

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Star Trek: Voyager

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Star Trek: Enterprise

Prequel series Enterprise showed us an early Starfleet uniform.

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Star Trek rebooted

Stepping outside of the established TV timeline, a new series of movies sleekly updated the iconic uniforms for a new generation of fans.

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Star Trek: Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green (centre) and Michelle Yeoh (right) lead the cast of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Netflix. (Disclosure: CBS is CNET’s parent company.) 

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Star Trek: Picard

Patrick Stewart returns for Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime Video.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks

Animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks will introduce to a side of Starfleet we don’t normally see, with a new twist on the uniform.

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Star Trek: Enterprise

Let’s look at the development of Starfleet’s uniform in chronological order. The earliest version appears in prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise, featuring Captain Archer and his crew in flight suits with colored accents presaging The Original Series and shoulder panels like The Next Generation.

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Star Trek: Discovery

Prequel series Discovery is set shortly before The Original Series, and gives the zip-up jumpsuits of Enterprise a more sci-fi twist with metallic side panels and shoulders.

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

By season two of Discovery, we see a nifty combination of various eras of the uniform, which will continue as we return to the starship Enterprise in new series Strange New Worlds.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

In 1965, the first pilot episode for The Original Series starred Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, wearing a prototype version of the uniform we know and love.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The pilot episode, The Cage, features colored tunics with ribbed collars.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The womens’ tunics boast a stylish pointed collar, and were much less revealing than what would come later.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

On away missions, the crew donned special jackets.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Spock and Captain Pike in their blue-grey planet-exploring garb.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

For the second pilot the uniform went through some changes. In the episode entitled Where No Man Has Gone Before, William Shatner and Sally Kellerman wear uniforms in the familiar colors but with a different collar.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Although it’s tough to see in the series itself, in the pilot you can see the famous “gold” uniforms were actually lime green. They only appeared gold under studio lighting.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

When the series proper began in 1966, the familiar black neckline appeared.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The different colors represent the job each crew member does: Blue is worn by science and medical officers, gold by command officers, and red by security and engineering officers.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The colored shirts are paired with black boots and naval-influenced trousers.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Lieutenant Uhura and Nurse Chapel model the rather more daring version of the uniform worn by women crewmembers.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Other lower-ranked crew members wore color-coded jumpsuits.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Yeoman Janice Rand shows off a Starfleet regulation hairdo.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The Enterprise’s lethally high turnover of red-garbed security officers gave rise to the expression “red shirt,” meaning a minor character who’s pretty much doomed.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Series creator Gene Roddenberry believed clothes would have no visible fastening in the future, so the zips are concealed in the shoulder. Initially, the uniforms were made of velour. 

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Star Trek: The Original Series

For the third series, the costumes were made of nylon fabric similar to baseball uniforms — because the previous velour versions shrank.

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Star Trek: The Animated Series

The Animated Series made the gold color official.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture did away with the bold colors of the series, adopting new tunics in shades of grey, beige and white.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The new uniforms didn’t prove as popular as the iconic shirts from the series, lasting just one film.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The new uniforms were rather snug.

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Star Trek movies

From 1982’s Star Trek: Wrath of Khan onward, designer Robert Fletcher put the original crew in tunics that evoked Starfleet’s naval tradition, including bell-bottom trousers. 

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The differing colors for different departments returned on the wrist and shoulder straps, and an undershirt.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The film also saw some warm jackets for away missions.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

In 1987 The Next Generation began with the crew in form-fitting spandex jumpsuits. The colors return, but this time it’s command wearing red, engineering and security in mustard, and science and medicine once again in blue. 

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Unfortunately the futuristic-looking outfits gave some cast members backache, so the spandex only lasted two seasons.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

For the third series, Mister Worf and his crew mates donned more relaxed wool gabardine tunics, designed by Robert Blackman.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

After the switch to the new uniforms in The Next Generation, lesser crewmembers were sometimes glimpsed in the older outfits. Their poor backs.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

In 1993 Captain Sisko and the crew of Deep Space Nine adopted a black uniform with colored shoulders, previously seen in The Next Generation as the uniform of Starfleet Academy.

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Star Trek: Voyager

From 1995, Captain Janeway and the crew of Voyager wore the black uniforms.

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Star Trek: Voyager

Lost in the Delta Quadrant, the Voyager crew didn’t keep up with the latest fashion and so didn’t make the switch to the grey-shouldered uniform.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

When The Next Generation crew made the leap to the big screen, they donned a new uniform with grey shoulders. The department colors are seen on the undershirt and the rank stripes on the wrist.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks

Star Trek: Lower Decks follows the escapades of junior officers Starfleet officers aboard the USS Cerritos, wearing a new take on the Next Generation uniform.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks

Lower Decks is set in 2380, a year after the Next Generation crew’s final mission, Star Trek: Nemesis. It seems Starfleet has ditched the black and grey for a return to bright colors, perfect for the palette of a cartoon.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks

The Lower Decks uniform includes a simplified badge, a line of silver piping and a point at the bottom. The folding front harks back to the movie tunic. 

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

In Deep Space Nine’s fifth season, the DS9 crew switched to the uniform worn by the Enterprise crew in the movies.

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Star Trek: Picard

Star Trek: Picard sees a return for the beloved Next Generation captain. He’s long left Starfleet behind so he isn’t wearing a uniform, although those shoulders look pretty familiar. Picard streams on CBS All Access in the US and Amazon Prime Video elsewhere. 

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Star Trek: Picard

The show features flashbacks to Picard’s final days in Starfleet, when TNG-style coloured shoulders were given a striking striped flourish.

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Star Trek: Picard

In Picard’s present day, the more streamlined shoulders have returned, but with a new collar.

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Star Trek: Discovery

This is the admiral’s version of the 32nd century uniform.

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Star Trek: Discovery

As Discovery continued, the ship jumps forward to the future where Starfleet’s uniforms are grey with subtle colored accents and an oval badge. 

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Star Trek: Discovery

In season 4 of Discovery, the 32nd century uniforms invert their colors for a black stripe on familiar blue, gold and red tunics.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Sometimes our heroes are seen in alternative uniforms.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Captain Kirk occasionally wears a green tunic.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Captain Picard got his own version of the Captain’s uniform with this blue tunic and red jacket.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Throughout the movies, the captains wear different variations on the captain’s vest.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Doctor McCoy gets in on the action with his medical smock.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Captain Kirk gives a martial arts lesson, complete with Starfleet-issue uniform.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Mister Spock models a spacesuit.

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Star Trek: Discovery

The Discovery crew in a modern take on the spacesuit.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

For special occasions, the crew don Starfleet dress uniforms.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

A fancy Captain Kirk meets the villainous Khan while wearing his dress uniform.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

The dress uniform appeared in different forms throughout The Next Generation. Here’s the version worn by the crew for a wedding in the 2002 movie Star Trek: Nemesis.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Counsellor Troi got to wear her own clothes throughout The Next Generation. Troi eventually started wearing the official uniform in later seasons, but she wasn’t the only character to appear in their own gear.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Child prodigy Wesley Crusher wasn’t officially a Starfleet officer, so he wore an outfit that hinted at the uniform style.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Another youngster in the series, Deep Space Nine’s Jake Sisko, got to show off much jazzier duds.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

DS9 was crewed by a mix of Starfleet and Bajoran officers, including Major Kira and Constable Odo. Well, he “wore” a Bajoran uniform, although technically as a shapechanger he could anything what he liked.

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Star Trek: Voyager

When Voyager rescued Seven of Nine from the Borg collective, she expressed her new freedom with some very tight outfits.

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Star Trek: Voyager

Vulcan officer T’Pol also got to wear her own (very tight) outfits. Most illogical.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The crew of the Enterprise have encountered many other uniforms during their voyages, like these Klingon outfits in The Original Series.

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Star Trek the movies

The Klingons underwent a serious makeover for the movies and The Next Generation.

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Star Trek: Discovery

Klingons get a modern makeover in Star Trek: Discovery, influenced by their brief appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The Romulans appeared in uniform in The Original Series.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

By the time The Next Generation aired, they too had a striking new look.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Eagle-eyed fans will notice that the uniforms aren’t always spot-on, like when Uhura was seen in a command uniform in the episode The Corbomite Maneuver.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Occasionally, the crew have to slip out of uniform, like when a time-travelling Kirk and co had to blend in with 1930s America in The City on the Edge of Forever.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Yes, well, anything to blend in, right?

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Some of the best alternative uniforms are seen in a parallel universe in the episode Mirror, Mirror.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

The mirror universe is home to a fascist version of Starfleet, complete with evil versions of our heroes — and their uniforms.

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Star Trek: Discovery

Discovery updated the Terran Empire’s uniforms in the mirror universe with striking armor.

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Star Trek rebooted

In 2009, big screen Star Trek reboot reinvented the look of the classic series.

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Star Trek rebooted

In the films Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, gold is once again the color of command, with metallic insignia on the chest and sleeves. The V-neck shirts are worn over black undershirts.

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Star Trek rebooted

The film’s prologue showed us this glimpse of an earlier uniform, styled somewhere between the blue-ish flightsuit of Enterprise and the colored shirts of The Original Series.

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Star Trek rebooted

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Star Trek rebooted

In the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond, the uniforms are subtly altered, with more built-up shoulders and slightly darker panels down the sides.

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Star Trek rebooted

The neckline nods to the rounded collar of later Next Generation uniforms.

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Star Trek rebooted

The new films continue the tradition of skin-tight outfits with this diving uniform worn by Lieutenant Uhura.

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Star Trek rebooted

Star Trek Beyond also sees the crew don blue and yellow jackets when escaping the ship.

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Star Trek rebooted

The new films recognise that the original Starfleet uniform is one of the most iconic movie or TV costumes ever.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

With more Trek on the way, here’s to another 50 years of cool uniforms!

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