TNG Jumpsuit Analysis – Season 3 Onward – Summary

When Robert Blackman joined The Next Generation’s creative team, he was immediately faced with the challenge of redesigning the Starfleet uniforms while remaining true to the aesthetic established by William Ware Theiss.

Blackman tried several approaches throughout season three (including two-piece uniforms for most of the main cast, then a front-zipping TNG jumpsuit for Dr. Crusher) before landing on a back-zipping TNG jumpsuit for the good doctor.

He also experimented with the fit of Dr. Crusher’s uniforms, likely attempting to provide a more comfortable costume for Gates McFadden.

Meanwhile, Blackman had inherited a wardrobe full of uniforms from the previous two seasons, which the extras continued to wear throughout most of season three.

Toward the end of the season, he appears to have explored the possibility of updating these older costumes with his newer detailing (adding the mandarin-style collar, replacing the yoke, and removing the division-colored trim from the lower pant legs) – weighing the options of creating an entirely new wardrobe of back-zipping jumpsuits against the monumental task of updating the many existing ones.

Apparently it was deemed unfeasible to create a new wardrobe of back-zipping TNG jumpsuits, so those were primarily reserved for female main characters (such as Dr. Crusher, Counselor Troi, and Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine), recurring characters (such as Ensign Ro and Nurse Ogawa) and prominent guest stars (such as Commander Shelby, Ensign Leffler, Lieutenant Aquiel, Lieutenant Commander Darren, and Ensign Sito Jaxa).

The older uniforms were modified with Blackman’s detailing, and they were primarily worn by extras throughout the remainder of the series.

In short, Blackman made the most of the situation he inherited, and did the best he could to homogenize the uniforms with the resources available.

Even still, like during the first two seasons, the TNG jumpsuits from season three onward were a continual work-in-progress as Blackman experimented with different pattern lines, contours, and detailing.

These changes and variations primarily included:

  • Dr. Crusher’s collar shape and height changed several times throughout the series.
  • The teal collar piping noticeably changed colors, and slightly wider gold piping was occasionally used.
  • The yokes significantly deepened, particularly toward and during season seven.
  • The contour of the lower yoke seam usually only had a slight downward curve away from center, but some jumpsuits had a very strong downward curve. A couple even had the M-shaped contour from season two.
  • The yokes sometimes dipped very low down onto the sleeves, but sometimes barely did at all. Dr. Crusher’s jumpsuits changed in this regard as well.
  • Both the “season one” and “season two” style asymmetrical front proportions remained in use simultaneously, on both main characters (Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi, respectively) and extras.

  • Dr. Crusher’s jumpsuit waistline changed several times throughout the series – lowered for season six, then raised again for season seven.
  • Dr. Crusher’s side front panel seams were initially straight, but they were slightly curved later on. Other characters’ seams were usually straight (or mostly straight).
  • The black side panels were significantly widened on Dr. Crusher’s season seven jumpsuits.
  • The women’s jumpsuits had bust darts, which were initially parallel (or mostly parallel) to the diagonal waist seams, although this was less consistent into the later years.
  • The height of the lower front pant leg “slits” varied among the cast.
  • The elastic stirrups were fastened to the bottom of the pant legs in different ways.
  • Some jumpsuits had deep armholes (akin to the early uniforms), but others had tighter, higher ones.
  • Most sleeves appear to have been cut on the same grain as the jumpsuit body, but some were cut on a strong diagonal.

Robert Blackman not only remained the costume designer for the rest of the show; he also went on to be the costume designer on the following three spinoff series (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise) – producing an absolutely enormous body of work over twenty-three (!) production years and four feature films.

His work on the franchise earned him two Emmy awards, eight more nominations, and the adoration of countless fans who enjoyed the various series.

For the subsequent series he designed all the new uniforms, and I find it interesting that he took care to simplify their paradigms to prevent the mess he had inherited with TNG.

With few exceptions, his uniform designs for the following shows were unisex and consistent across the casts; there was no ongoing confusion as to who wore which version of the “standard” duty uniform (wool two-piece uniforms vs. spandex jumpsuits, back-zipping jumpsuits vs. front-zipping ones, early uniforms being used concurrently with the later redesigned ones, etc.) that had plagued The Next Generation

… but those are separate costume analyses. 🙂

At this point we’ve examined the overall evolution of the TNG jumpsuits, as well as the enormous range of detailing differences from each era.

Next we’ll explore a myriad of TNG jumpsuit variations, variants, curiosities, continuity errors, and other points of interest from throughout the series that didn’t quite fit the main body of this analysis.

Kirk but wait there's more

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