As you’d expect, fashion in Star Trek has evolved over the course of nearly 50 years. From the swingin’ sixties miniskirts in the Original Series to Seven’s curve-clinging bodysuit in Voyager, we’ve come a long way, baby. At least in some ways.
I’ve been rewatching the show with a friend who’s (sadly) only seen the 2009 Star Trek film and 2013 Star Trek film, and there’s been a lot of discussion of objectification in Star Trek. Naturally, there has been a fair amount of winces and giggles over some of the highly impractical getups that the women of Star Trek find themselves in. Don’t get me wrong, the fashion trends in Star Trek can be just as cruel to the men, but as is still too common, women get the short end of the stick. Or should I say the short end of the skirt?
Sadly, this skirt is longer than the original costume.
Now that you’ve fled from my terrible jokes, let’s look at some of the franchise’s most ridiculous moments in back-baring, thigh-grazing, lifting-and-separating attire.
TOS: What Are Little Girls Made Of?
I don’t know what little girls are made of, but Andrea’s clothes are sure made of very little. Dr. Korby must have run low on fabric before he made her. The male androids are completely covered in bulky robes or in a far less revealing version of Andrea’s olive and cobalt criss-crossed number; typical sexist sixties. How she gets such great support with such flimsy straps is a mystery to me. There’s an excellent underwire in those cups.
TOS: Elaan of Troyius
This episode is cringe-worthy in so many ways, fashion included. Elaan’s outfits range from shimmery monokini to these scraps of mesh and metallic that would bare all if she shifted wrong. Beyond her attire, there’s the issue of Kirk’s and the crew’s treatment of “savage” Elaan – including a slap from the Captain himself. Whatever the rationale for this wardrobe, one thing vastly less appropriate than Elaan’s clothes is the degrading way others behave towards her.
TOS: The Way to Eden
Deborah Downey’s nameless character in this messy third season outing may sport the original side ponytail, but as it tended to do, TOS went overboard in its version of hippie chic. All of the women in this “groovy” group are more defined by the skin they show and their ability to seduce male crewmembers, like Chekov, than by personality traits. About the only practical thing about Girl #1’s clothes is that her arms are free to pluck a stringed bicycle wheel.
TNG: The Naked Now
Tasha Yar was an aikido master, security officer, and survivor of a colony where escaping from roaming gangs was a necessity. Why anyone would think exposing such a strong character to this degree of, well, exposure, is puzzling. Her chest is about half a yard of fabric away from being as bare as Sulu’s was back in The Naked Time. I guess her choice of outfit only makes sense if you remember that she (probably) took this off a few minutes later.
TNG: Code of Honor
Rife with racist overtones, sexism, and a lazy rehash of Amok Time, this episode was already a mess. Poor Tasha. The writers really like tormenting you (or Denise Crosby). At least this time, Yar isn’t wearing an embarrassing getup; instead, it’s Yareena in a shiny spandex jumpsuit that can’t possibly be conducive to a deathmatch. Despite all that ruche, it looks terribly uncomfortable to move in, and speaks to the episode’s awful, cheap feel.
Finally, clothes that degrade the men as much as the women! Or at least that’s what I’m sure the costume department was thinking when they created these bizarre onesies. It makes me wince and ache in sympathy to recall that the people of Edo run everywhere. I don’t care that Worf declared it a “nice planet.” There’s nothing nice about people who not only leap to capital punishment to solve problems, but wear such disquieting attire.
TNG: The Price
I’m not picking on this one just because I prefer to wear sweatpants to the gym. I’m picking on it because of those straps trying to strangle Troi’s chest, and because I’ve worn a unitard before. It wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t pretty. Neither are these. I’m intrigued to know what Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis had to say about this “workout” of mostly stretching, spandex, and fanservice – not to mention women being portrayed solely talking about men.
DS9: Profit and Lace
Often called one of the worst DS9 episodes, and for good reason. There’s also probably a reason that Armin Shimmerman refused to play the script as originally written because it was demeaning to women. Considering the result, I don’t ever want to read that draft. This one gets a dishonorable mention on the list for its awful attempt at a Some Like It Hot feel, complete with Ferengi business leader Nilva falling in love with Quark’s female alter-ego.
I’m sure I’m missing some fashions that should never have seen the light of the soundstage – what are some of your favorite silly sartorial decisions on Star Trek? Share them in a comment!
Lydia Mondy is trying to get her friends to cosplay Star Trek, and promises she wouldn’t choose any of these outfits. She’s a freelance writer who would use her own holodeck to reenact classic whodunits