Audio Articles – Longreads from The Companion

Whether miniskirts and calf-high boots or spandex and shoulder pads, Star Trek uniforms have always kept one eye on today’s fashion as well as tomorrow’s. Featuring special guest Harriet Hall, fashion expert, Lifestyle Editor at The Independent newspaper, and feminist author of She: A Celebration of Renegade Women.

Show Notes

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Whether miniskirts and calf-high boots or spandex and shoulder pads, Star Trek uniforms have always kept one eye on today’s fashion as well as tomorrow’s. Featuring special guest Harriet Hall, fashion expert, Lifestyle Editor at The Independent newspaper, and feminist author of She: A Celebration of Renegade Women.

Read by Rebecca Davis and written by Kayleigh Dray. Theme song by Lofi Geek. 

Nichelle Nichols’ BBC interview: 

The ‘Hopepunk’ case for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: 

Costume Designer Robert Blackman’s interview on 

Costume Designer Gersha Phillips’s interview on Shondaland: 


…and We Got This Covered: 

Costume Designer Christine Bieselin Clark’s panel interview on Gold Derby: 

The original article on The Companion: 

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What is Audio Articles – Longreads from The Companion?

The Companion's Audio Articles are recorded and produced versions of some of our deep dives, untold stories and interviews that we don't think you'll find anywhere else.

You're listening to the
Companions audio articles, a new

series that features our best
stories on the companion. I'm

Rebecca Davis. I love Star Trek,
but I have always questioned

some of the design choices when
it came to the uniforms; the

miniskirts in the original
series, the seemingly impossible

next generation uniform help did
they get into that thing every

morning? Where are the pockets
to not carry things anymore in

the future, is wearing bright
primary colours on an away

mission really a good idea? The
following article gives some

great insight into the decisions
behind the uniforms, most

reflecting the current times.
Take a listen and decide for

yourself which trek era uniform
was the most practical, or just

simply the most stylish.

History of Starfleet uniforms
from fashion disasters to gender

equality, by Kaleigh Dray.
Whether mini skirts and calf

high boots or spandex and
shoulder pads, Star Trek

uniforms have always kept one
eye on today's fashion, as well

as tomorrow's it's all too easy
to assume that Star Trek aka the

same TV series, which is
primarily set in the future

ranging from the mid 22nd
century Star Trek Enterprise to

the 32nd century Star Trek
Discovery is as far removed from

contemporary fashion trends as
well as the M 33. Galaxy is from

Earth, which is in case you've
forgotten very, very far away.

Indeed, within 33 positions some
2.7 million light years away

from its previous position in
the Milky Way. It would take

enterprise some 300 years to
travel home from there at

maximum warp. As ever, though,
it seems to assume really is to

make an ass of you and me,
because Star Trek, and by which

I mean every single iteration of
that iconic Starfleet issue

jumpsuit has always been
incredibly on trend, every

single iteration. As Harriet
Hall fashion expert Lifestyle

Editor at the independent and
feminist author of she a

celebration of renegade women
tells me even in a futuristic

series like Star Trek,
contemporary trends in sales are

used to inspire the costumes she
adds. This helps to create a

believable and relatable
sartorial basis for the future,

allowing viewers to better
immerse themselves in it. Star

Trek The Original Series
uniforms. With Paul's comments

in mind, it makes sense as to
why the women of Star Trek The

Original Series decided to
boldly go where no other woman

on mainstream TV had gone
before. By which I mean of

course that they in William
Shatner's words, frequently

donned the quote, shorter skirts
on television. The 1960s marked

the beginning of youth culture
and the separation of teenagers

and young adults from their
parents generation in terms of

interests, music, and clothing
explains Hall. This feeling of

liberation and independence
through a rejection of the

stringent conformity of their
parents generation became known

as the youthquake. And in the
fashion world, this was

reflected in a bubble up
approach to fashion, where

trends no longer trickled down
from the catwalk. Instead,

teenagers opted for identity
shaping styles which can be

easily made at home using simple
patterns. at the vanguard of

this was British designer Mary
Quant, who made simple mini

shift dresses inspired by the
carefree styles of children's

wear, complete with Little Peter
Pan collars and bold graphic

prints. And her King's Row
boutique bazaar quickly became

the locus for trendy young women
wanting to express their sexual

liberation through incredibly
short mini skirts and thigh high

boots. In the years since the
series first aired, of course,

it's become all too apparent
that NBC requested the shows

female stars were decked out in
revealing costumes, a revelation

which has prompted many to look
back on the series with barely

concealed scorn for its hyper
sexualization of women. However,

it's worth noting that Nichelle
Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura

in the series, has publicly
dismissed those that have

suggested she was forced into
wearing anything unusually short

or revealing. Indeed, much as
Hall has explained already,

Nichols told the BBC that she
was already wearing very short

miniskirts on the street. What's
wrong with wearing them on the

air? I wore him on aeroplanes.
It was the era of the miniskirt.

Everybody wore miniskirts? While
the women of Star Trek The

Original Series Dawn simplistic
quant like tailoring and thigh

high hem lines. The men Shatner
included Don brightly coloured

and extremely skin tight nylon
shirts and charcoal slacks. It's

all about the subtle detailing
here says Hall noting that the

men's mod haircuts were likely
inspired by those worn by the

decades most famous heartthrobs
The Beatles. Look at those

slight V necks and that gold
trim she continues These were

used to inject a more futuristic
twist and a slightly other

aesthetic to the Starfleet
uniform so that it doesn't feel

too grounded in reality. Star
Trek The Next Generation

uniforms if you thought the
Starfleet uniforms of Star Trek

The Original Series were
revealing. Take another gander

at the costumes worn in Star
Trek The Next Generation.

Crafted from spandex these one
piece suits were famously made

to be one size too small,
ostensibly for a smoother line

on camera, and with no pockets,
which, when you're seeking out

new life and new civilizations
is about as useful as a

chocolate teapot. We hated our
spacesuits Geordi LaForge actor

LeVar Burton famously declared,
as much as they call it a

stretch fabric spandex and that
configuration doesn't give all

that much it hid nothing. After
two seasons of misery, the

costume designers eventually
swapped the spandex for a more

forgiving woollen material.
Still, though they kept

silhouettes tight and shoulder
seriously padded. The result a

sort of inverted triangle
silhouette, one which had become

synonymous with the 80s. This
was the same decade in which

many women stepped out of the
secretarial pool and enter the

boardroom says Hall, and they
did so wearing bold power

shoulders to exert their
presence among the male

dominated workplaces. It wasn't
just big shoulders and power

dressing which influenced Star
Trek The Next Generation

uniforms though, as Hall points
out, the 1980s was also a time

in which dance and aerobics
dominated. Whoopi Goldberg looks

like the ultimate disco queen in
her shining crushed velvet and a

futuristic hat that we can only
imagine would be nothing but

impractical in space. Meanwhile,
the body con leotards worn by

Marina Sirtis' Deanna Troi look
as if they were pulled straight

out of the popular Pineapple
Dance Studio in Covent Garden.

Close your eyes and imagine that
Star Trek The Next Generation

uniform again, I know what
you're thinking read for command

gold for operations, blue for
sciences, raise colours and rank

insignia on the neckline. So
far, so sci fi right. But as

Hall points out, these uniforms
were a twist on the hyper

tailored Nehru jacket, a style
first popularised by the Indian

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
This reflects the increasing

globalisation of fashion during
the ad she says, reminding me

that the decade was thanks to
the stock exchange and leaders

such as Reagan and Thatcher, an
era of boom in which wealth was

privatised, and many experienced
disposable incomes. Mind you,

Star Trek has evolved the
classic never look into

something more befitting a
gymnast at the 1980 Olympics

says Harriet Hall Star Trek Deep
Space Nine uniforms. We all know

that Star Trek Deep Space Nine
is darker and grittier than the

other Star Trek shows that came
before it. So it makes sense

that these hope punk vibes are
reflected in its twist on the

Starfleet uniform. more
utilitarian than anything worn

by the Star Trek The Original
Series in Star Trek The Next

Generation crew. The officers of
Star Trek Deep Space Nine opted

for mostly black jumpsuits, with
only the shoulders in red for

command gold for operations and
blue for sciences. The material

was loose enough that they were
able to roll their sleeves up.

Can you even imagine Miles
O'Brien with his sleeves rolled

down and they often flash their
dystopian great undershirts to

commenting on how these pared
down styles reflected

contemporary fashions at the
time. Hall says in the West, the

1990s opened with economic
crisis, which led to a

recession, unemployment and
rioting. This discontent marked

and abrupt into a decade that
saw gluttony for many and

people's attitudes to wealth
changed dramatically. In the

fashion world. This manifested
as a staunch rejection of

displays of wealth and dress
down anti fashion and

inconspicuous consumption became
the norm with designers such as

Norma Comala, Donna Karan,
Miuccia Prada and Calvin Klein,

all opting for low key
minimalist sportswear and in

much darker colours. Star Trek
Enterprise uniforms Star Trek

fandom may have taken a somewhat
dim view of its enterprising

prequel, but there's no denying
that the series has its plus

points. And no, we're not just
talking about Scott Bakula,

Jolene Blalock and that oh, so
divisive earworm of a theme

tune. We also mean genuinely is
thoroughly modern twist on the

standard Starfleet issue
jumpsuit. Gone were the brightly

coloured numbers we'd come to
know and love over the years.

Instead Captain Archer and his
crew the first humans

incidentally to boldly go where
no other had gone before. opted

for functional blue jumpsuits,
all of which featured a coloured

piping on the shoulders to show
off which division it's were

belong to be assignment badges
on the sleeve. See, similarly

form fitting silhouettes for
both men and women and D plenty

of useful details such as
zippers and pockets galore.

Speaking to the official Star
Trek web sight, Emmy Award

winning costume designer Robert
Blackman, notice that he looked

to none other than NASA for
inspiration. I had spent at that

point 12 years trying to make
the Star Trek uniform look like

you didn't know how the
Starfleet officer got into it,

that they were just wearing it.
So I said, there's going to be

zippers, there's going to be
pockets, there will be things

for equipment. He adds there
were 13 zippers and each one of

those uniforms. There were
zippers to nowhere in a way,

some of them sewn down with a
zipper so that you could never

get anything into it, but it
just made the characters look a

little bit more like cowboys in space.

It definitely had a much more
masculine and rough edge to it.

There was nothing spandex II or
woolly about it. Finally, women

seem to be wearing practical
clothes and space says hall when

I slide her a photo of the
uniforms worn in Star Trek

Enterprise is the 2000s which
means we're post millennium. So

gender equality, not to mention
women in the workplace is firmly

the norm at this point. It looks
like Star Trek has reflected

their equal standing as
astronauts rather than a

decoration in space Hall
continues. These boiler suits

are more utility wear than
anything we've seen so far and

they have been paired with Loki
makeup and no jewellery. This

reflects the more fluid approach
to gender through those

androgynous styles that became
the norm in the 2000s. Still on

the subject of Star Trek
Enterprise Hall explains that it

was likely influenced by the
fact that noddies fashion was

hit hard by yet another
recession. The late 2000s saw

the Lehman Brothers filed for
bankruptcy leading to the 2008

credit crunch she tells me this
led to another rejection of

opulent styles, the result of
which was that very low key

practical Styles begin to creep
through in the fashion world.

jumpsuits were very trendy at
the time with women loving the

Rosie the Riveter feminist vibes
they got from wearing them. This

aligned with the rise of
feminism is fourth wave in 2011.

Star Trek discoveries uniforms
just when we thought we knew

what to expect from Star Trek
and its utopian take on

humanity's future Star Trek
Discovery came roaring onto our

screens in 2017. And it shook up
everything in the best possible

way. The series of course
featured yet another twist on

the Star Trek The Original
Series uniform. This time

designed by the inimitable
gursha Phillips, speaking to

Shawn DeLand, the award winning
designer has described how she

drew inspiration for both high
end fashion designers, such as

Alexander McQueen, and Iris van
Herpen, and athletic brands,

Nike and Lululemon to create
gender free looks meant to

convey power, no matter who is
wearing them. There are so many

different options for how we can
look at what we're doing for the

future. Phillips adds a
statement which he expands in a

separate interview with My idea basically

was to come up with something
that looked futuristic,

interesting, and just pushing
the envelope here and there a

bit. She says, That was always
the goal. And it's such a hard

line, because for me personally,
one of the things I really want

to be able to do or have other
people do is when they look back

on this, that it still
resonates, it still looks good

in the future. It's like when
you watch Blade Runner, the

original one, I still believe it
because of the way that the

costumes are so great in it, you
can accept it as the future.

There's different versions of
that as well out there. You

know, there's different versions
of you know, I think this

element does a similar thing,
but in a very different way. And

Prometheus, there's so many
different versions of the future

now out there that we're
competing with. Philips of

course leans into the sort of
future that boasts another all

blue uniform. Not a one piece
this time though, but a jacket

and trousers with metallic
stripes to indicate divisions,

gold for command. So we're for
sciences and copper for

operations. I guess the US Navy
comes through as inspiration

more in the colour than anything
else, she says. Because there

was a point when we were working
the colours and I was asked,

What would I do with the uniform
and I started looking at the

Navy and thinking, I think that
we should use one colour and

come up with a different way of
signifying our departments. A

fan of the new look, Hall says,
I can see a real turning point

in terms of gender equality and
costumes here, which again

reflects the era. The Women's
outfits are still subtly more

fitted than the men's at the
waist. But the fact they're all

in identical looks is a welcome
change. No more mini skirts in

space. You feel they could
really take on an alien planet

should they need to. Noting that
the uniform has leaned hard into

27 teens athleisure trend Hall
adds these costumes are clearly

inspired by leather racing biker
outfits, and the gold detailing

with the lapis blue suits
elevate them to something not

unlike a futuristic twist on a
Formula One racing suit. Star

Trek Discovery's uniforms season
four of course, the Star Trek

Discovery uniform has shifted a
fair bit over its four season

run working from blue to grey to
a far brighter and more

colourful look. One which feels
far more informed by the costume

scene and start Trek The Next
Generation in Star Trek The

Original Series. When we shot
the last episode of season

three, we realised that the
uniforms matched the ship, the

walls of the bridge Phillips
tells we got this

That was the impetus for
creating these new colours and

so we spent a lot of the
beginning of the season trying

to come up with the best
combinations of them. The end

result is a bridge full of
colour with red, blue and gold

featuring more prominently in
the designs. I kind of wish we

had thought about that sooner
Philip says, but it did take

looking at that and seeing sneak
when Martin greens head almost

looked like it was floating on
the captain's chair to realise

that for us. Martin Green who
describes Philips mind as

kaleidoscope of brilliance says
I love being in command read I

think that it's bold, the first
black woman to lead a Star Trek

series ads. I also love the
slight shift in hairstyle

because now I have these
individual braids which I

thought really spoke to the
sense of ease and security which

has finally come from maturation
and from finally sitting in that

chair. Star Trek Picard uniforms
on the surface the costume scene

in Star Trek Picard hearken back
to the Star Trek Deep Space Nine

look. Yes, the Starfleet
uniforms of Picard is relative

present are mostly black, but
they have the standard Star Trek

The Next Generation division of
colours on the shoulders and

collar. Speaking at Gold
derbies, meet the BTL experts

costume design panel. However,
Picard is costume designer

Christine Veselin Clark says
that she was challenged with

veering away from the kind of
sci fi futuristic kind of cold

this that Star Trek fans are
used to. It's a much more

humanised grounded for lack of
better word interpretation. She

says noting that Patrick
Stewart's Picard begins the

series in retirement on an earth
based vineyard, which means yes,

he wears a lot of lovely
knitwear and turtlenecks and

cosy green and red hues. I think
oftentimes synthetic becomes the

old reliable in sci fi says
Clark, but because Picard is a

lover of history, and an
archivist and a reader of paper

books, even in 2400, we really
wanted to keep a hold of a lot

of the natural materials. We
eventually get into lots of

synthetics when he goes to
space, but we transition we made

almost everything that Patrick
wears in this series. In the

beginning Yes, it was very much
grounded in natural materials,

cotton wool linens, and doing
blends of those. Because of the

ability to create depth of
colour and get textures and

mixtures of those things without
that glossy feeling. Those

materials are definitely the
best and they have an old world

feeling. Commenting on the new
Star Trek colour palette Hall

says these have changed
dramatically from the bright

reds and golds of the 1960s and
garish 1980s. Lux to more muted

blacks, greys and browns. It's
suggestive of a dystopian future

one which alarmingly rings true
with our current timeline of

pandemic climate crisis and
rising cost of living struggles.

The future now is to protect
rather than adventure it seems.

Clark says she made a point of
using natural materials and

silhouettes for every character
in Picard moving away from the

hyper sexualized catsuits and
instead attempting to show power

and strength in other ways. We
didn't want to feel so distant

from these characters that they
were so far in the future that

we couldn't be emotionally
connected to them she adds. It's

an instantly noticeable shift
and one which Hall absolutely

approves of both from a feminist
and a fashion insider's

perspective. We moved on from
men and women wearing starkly

different looks than equalising
through identical uniforms and

now we see a balance of power in
Picard. She says the men are

still wearing navy blue collars,
which is a nice continuation of

the Star Trek style from decades
ago. But now they're

incorporating biker jacket
styles for the men and women

designs which wouldn't feel out
of place on a Balenciaga catwalk

and some more office style looks
for the women including black

shift dresses and layered polos.
It feels a bit like we've moved

away from the impossibly
futuristic to something more

edgy and cool in a way that is
seeking to almost normalise the

space fashion. It suggests that
any of us can be these

astronauts, which is hugely
appropriate for a time in which

the first commercial flights are
going into space. So where will

Star Trek take us next? As ever,
the future remains unknown. But

we've no doubt whatsoever that
the Starfleet crew and their

costume designers will continue
to boldly take us where no one

has gone before. Well, no one
except for contemporary fashion

designers of course. The
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