Star Trek: The Next Generation had three different costume designers over the course of its seven-year run, all of whom had their own “take” on what the TNG-era uniforms should be.
Artistic leanings aside, they even worked for different producers and showrunners with differing creative directions, and they all continually tweaked details on their respective uniform designs.
This comprehensive TNG jumpsuit analysis is presented in four sections:
In part one, we’ll be primarily focusing on these uniforms as they were initially conceived by costume designer William Ware Theiss and seen in The Next Generation‘s first season.
We’ll be examining the TNG jumpsuit in its entirety, thereby establishing a reasonably firm reference for all the subsequent stylistic evolutions, alterations, adaptations, variations, deviations, etc. over the remainder of the show.
In part two, we’ll focus specifically on these uniforms as they were seen in The Next Generation’s second season, during which Durinda Rice Wood was the costume designer.
It’s a common misconception that the Starfleet uniforms were the same in the first two seasons; while obviously similar, there were many subtle (and some not so subtle) changes to the proportions and detailing.
Wood wasn’t permitted to change the standard uniforms outright, but she did put her own “spin” on Theiss’ original uniform design that production year.
This second section is primarily in relation to how the uniforms changed from season one.
In part three, we’ll direct our attention to the TNG jumpsuits as they were seen from season three onward, adapted again by costume designer Robert Blackman.
Despite the show’s relative stability at this point and finally having a single costume designer for multiple consecutive years, these uniforms continued to evolve over the remainder of the show. They were in a near-constant state of flux.
As such, we’ll be primarily focusing on the TNG jumpsuits as they were seen in season four, since that’s when they were most consistent. (We’ll discuss the ever-changing details and trends from the later seasons too, though.)
Although the “essence” of the later TNG jumpsuits was very similar to the early Theiss/Wood uniforms, we’ll again take a detailed look at the TNG jumpsuit in its entirety.
Some established points and material from earlier in the analysis will be reiterated, but the continuous uniform evolution and different visual references will hopefully provide a consistently interesting reading/learning experience.
And finally, in part four we’ll explore the myriad of uniform variations, variants, and curiosities that were seen over the course of the show. (Believe me, there was a lot of strange stuff over the years!)
We’ll also take a look at many of the inevitable uniform imperfections, continuity errors, etc. that are prone to happen on a production of this magnitude and complexity.
With that outline in mind, let’s take a look at these TNG jumpsuits!