Costume designer William Ware Theiss introduced a new family of Starfleet uniforms for the launch of The Next Generation, most notably the TNG jumpsuits.
Although his uniform family did include admiral uniforms and formal uniforms, the only standard duty uniform variants in Theiss’ wardrobe paradigm were the TNG skants and occasional “coveralls.”
The only custom and/or character-specific wardrobe elements Theiss established were unique rank (Kosinski), decorations (Worf’s baldric), and other garments (Dr. Crusher’s lab coat).
Neither costume designer William Ware Theiss or Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) returned for The Next Generation’s second season; Durinda Rice Wood took over for the former, and the character of Dr. Pulaski (played by Muldaur) was introduced to replace the latter.
Several major changes were made that season: Commander Riker grew a beard (the importance of which cannot be overstated!), Wesley ditched those notorious sweaters, Worf’s baldric was updated, and both Geordi and Worf switched from “red” to “gold.”
And more relevant to this costume analysis, Dr. Pulaski didn’t wear either of the standard Starfleet uniforms established the previous season, or a lab coat like Dr. Crusher had; she wore a unique “medical smock” uniform variant, exclusive to the character.
In fact, she wore five (!) different variants of this particular uniform style over the course of the season!
(Actually, there were at least seven; I’ve arbitrarily consolidated the “middle five” down to three because they were so similar. Even those could possibly be further consolidated, but more on this later.)
In this analysis, I’ll be discussing the TNG medical smock variations individually and in approximate chronological order, so you’ll hopefully be able to more easily observe the various styles and changes.
And finally, I refer to this garment as a “smock” rather than a “skant” for two reasons:
1 – To avoid confusion with the actual TNG skants from season one, which were an entirely different uniform style.
2 –Dr. Pulaski wore trousers with this uniform (and to me, “skant” somehow seems an inappropriate term for a garment worn with trousers).
If you disagree with my use of the terms, that’s fine – you’re welcome to call it whatever you like on your blog. 😉
Now, let’s take a good look at the TNG medical smock!
Before we take a detailed look at each of the specific TNG medical smock variants, here’s a quick overview of what I refer to as “version 5.”
This is by far the version Dr. Pulaski wore most often (for the second half of the season), leading me to believe that this was the ideal, “finalized” version – or at least the closest to it that costume designer Durinda Rice Wood came.