The actual color of Dr. Pulaski’s uniform(s) has been a topic of much debate amongst fans over the years.
In-person, the actual fabric colors are noticeably – even shockingly – different than how they appeared in the shows and movies.
I’m not an expert on lighting or photography, but I believe this was primarily a result of bright blue lighting used in the early seasons; just look at Dr. Pulaski’s flesh tones in the screencap above.
(On the right is a photo I took of the same costume in a more neutral lighting setup, and lightly edited in Photoshop to better match how it looks in-person.)
In addition to the fabric colors’ incongruity as seen in the show vs. in-person, the division colors themselves varied radically and evolved considerably over the years.
Here in this analysis, I’ll just say that the early TNG “teal” colors were deep, bluish teals – but definitely teals, although the uniforms often looked full-on blue in the show.
However, there were occasional hints of “teal” in the show.
In the case of Dr. Pulaski’s first medical smock (pictured above), see Pantone color #315 U as a close representation of the screen-used fabric color.
Alternatively, three paint chips which are also close to the actual fabric color are pictured below.
The first two are Valspar #5011-8, “Classic Teal” (picture left) and #5011-9, “Shaded Lake” (picture right).
The third is also Valspar, but from a different series: CI 15, “Midnight Bayou”:
Here are the “Classic Teal” and “Midnight Bayou” paint chips, pictured together:
And finally, the Coats & Clark thread color #5380, “Dark Teal” was the closest match I found to the fabric at my local JoAnn.
Of course, that was only one of the medical smock styles Dr. Pulaski wore, and one would have to gather and compare them all in-person to determine whether or not the teal color was consistent among the various styles.
(My guess is that there were at least minor color variations.)
Here’s an assortment of Dr. Pulaski uniform auction photos, in which one can observe not only how different the colors appear compared to what we saw in the show, but in comparison to each other:
Granted, these photos were unlikely to have been taken in a consistent and controlled manner (and certainly not for color comparison purposes), but I do believe they at least imply a slight range of screen-used season 2 teals.
But despite the obviously teal colors above, here’s an auction photo in which the fabric appears to be bluer – more like what we saw in the show itself.
And here’s another photo of a screen-used Dr. Pulaski medical smock, uploaded to YourProps by “Thot Pran.”
Obviously, it’s full-on teal!
All that said, the season two teal(s) are but a chapter in the overall evolution of the TNG teal division color.
I’ve had the privilege of studying (and color-matching) numerous screen-used uniforms and swatches of screen-used uniform fabric from over the entire series, and I will be discussion the evolution of the TNG-era division colors in a future blog post.
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(I mention this primarily regarding additional context for the TNG season 2 “teal” color; although the “gold” seems to have had the widest range of screen-used colors, the “teal” color evolution was more easily observable in the show itself.)
My final observation regarding Dr. Pulaski’s medical smocks is their possible legacy and influence on the Starfleet uniforms that followed.
Robert Blackman took over as costume designer for The Next Generation‘s third season onward (including Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and for the Starfleet uniforms on the four TNG movies), and he appears to have immediately latched onto the “eight panel + yoke” structure of version 5.
For the first several episodes of season three, Dr. Crusher wore one of the quirky early season 3 TNG jacket variants, which appears to have followed the basic model of Durinda Rice Wood’s “finalized” TNG medical smock (with a few obvious alternations, of course).
Although this design “fell off the map” for a few years with the introduction of the “proper” TNG jackets and the “upgraded” later-era TNG jumpsuits, Blackman did return to this “eight panel + yoke” structure for the Starfleet uniforms he designed for Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
And of course, those Starfleet uniforms eventually evolved into the DS9/NEM-style uniforms.
… and to think it all may have begun with Dr. Pulaski, in the second half of The Next Generation‘s second season, with early TNG-era uniforms by two different costume designers!
(Although in fairness, it’s not clear exactly how much inspiration Blackman may or may not have drawn from the fifth version of Wood’s TNG medical smock; it was one of the most recent costume designs once Blackman entered the TNG scene the following production year, but it’s also hardly unique to Star Trek.)
It really could have just been coincidental … but without firm evidence either way, I only present it here as an interesting connection regarding the evolution of Starfleet uniforms over subsequent years.