It’s a common misconception that the TNG uniforms were the same during the first two seasons of the show.
Although to the casual viewer the uniforms appeared to remain unchanged from the first season – and you’ve already seen how much variation there actually was! – there were actually numerous changes made to the uniforms over the course of the second season.
Durinda Rice Wood took over as the show’s costume designer for season two, and she made significant creative contributions to the show during that production year.
As quoted in Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, Wood said, “I was dying to get my hands on those uniforms. When I came in, I told the producers, but they had spent so much money on them, they said they didn’t have the budget to redesign and reproduce them.”
She also said, “Had I been able to redo all the uniforms, they might have looked a little bit like Wesley’s, I think.”
However, she was able to put her own “spin” on Theiss’ uniform designs from the first season; the overall design remained broadly consistent, but nearly every aspect of the TNG jumpsuits was subtly altered as the season progressed.
Perhaps the most obvious uniform changes were that Geordi and Worf switched from red to gold, although this was probably more of a production decision than a creative costuming one (such as Counselor Troi’s and Wesley’s costume changes) considering how their characters’ roles in the show had changed.
On the other hand, the change to Worf’s baldric was doubtless a creative contribution of Wood’s – one that would continue to be used for many years after her departure.
To the right is a costume sketch of Worf’s new “look” for season two.
Most of the other changes we’ll be examining were more subtle.
Perhaps an interesting issue to keep in the back of your mind as we go is to what degree these changes were made with the producers’ approval, or even awareness.
In other words, did the producers actually allow her to make some or all of the following changes to Theiss’ uniform designs?
Or were they simply so subtle and/or gradual that she was able to successfully sneak them in “under the radar,” in attempt to inject some of her own creativity into an established design she wasn’t allowed to change outright?
Whether the following changes were done with or without producer permission, and whether they were done in creative adaptation or even cheeky rebellion, most of them definitely appear to have been intentional.
As with the first season, the uniform progression was somewhat inconsistent – muddied somewhat by a variety of factors such as wardrobe department priorities (some actors got new uniforms earlier and/or more often than others), production scheduling (guest characters might’ve been attired in newer or older-styled uniforms), existing costume recycles, etc.
The net result was a gradual infusion of new uniforms with different detailing, which were used concurrently with the earlier style(s) for most of the season.
The overall timeline to keep in mind is that right from the beginning of season two, three characters were immediately attired in newly-made uniforms that featured at least some of Wood’s new detailing: Captain Picard, Geordi, and Worf.
Commander Riker’s new uniforms were slightly updated but generally favored the earlier, season one style.
Data continued to wear his season one uniforms (or newly-made uniforms in an identical style) for the first two-thirds or so of season two, then he was given new uniforms with Wood’s season-two-style detailing for the last third or so of the season.
Chief O’Brien joined the cast as a recurring character for season two (and indeed, appeared in nearly every episode that year), although his uniforms (which would’ve almost definitely been made specifically for him) were almost exclusively in the earlier, season one style.
And as in the previous section of this analysis, I’ve done my best to interpret and present what I believe the design trends to have been, as well as the overall evolution of the TNG jumpsuits over the course of season two under the creative direction of Durinda Rice Wood.