TNG Skant Analysis – Stylistic Influences and Appearances

Stylistic Influences

There were three different costume designers over the course of The Next Generation, the first of whom – and designer of the TNG skant – was William Ware Theiss.

Theiss had been the costume designer on Star Trek: The Original Series and the aborted Star Trek: Phase II.  

Star Trek TOS uniforms
TOS, 1x19 "Arena"
Star Trek Phase II uniforms
STAR TREK: PHASE II test footage

Fast-forward twenty years or so …

If you’re interested in the Starfleet uniform timeline over “The Lost Era” (from the TOS movie-era uniforms to those Theiss designed for TNG), check out this blog post and its corresponding video:

And of more direct relevance, see this post (and its corresponding video) on the topic of the TNG-era uniform paradigm – why I believe TNG’s uniforms were conceived and designed the way they were:

As I mentioned in both of the aforementioned posts, William Ware Theiss’ approach to designing the TNG-era uniforms appears to have been to simply “pick up where he left off” with The Original Series and Phase II, almost entirely disregarding Robert Fletcher’s movie-era costumes.

Although obviously different uniforms, Theiss TOS-era and TNG-era “skants” shared several design motifs, and their overall similarities are easily observable:

However, I find it both interesting and curious that Theiss chose to follow up on his original (seasons 1-2) design, rather than the “starburst” version primarily seen during the third season.

(Note the diagonal seams extending outward from the upper left corner, above the insignia patch.)

Another subtle design motif from The Original Series was the V-shaped tunic necklines, which Theiss definitely seems to have favored by season three.

His TNG-era uniforms would have similarly V-shaped necklines, albeit without the collar.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TOS, 3x4 "The Enterprise Incident" (left) and TNG, 1x1 "Encounter at Farpoint" (right)

And as I mentioned in the aforementioned “TNG-era Uniform Paradigm,” the unisex TNG skants seem to have been an attempt to better portray gender equality in the future.

Rather than male Starfleet crew wearing full-body uniforms (tunic + trousers) and ladies wearing mini-dresses, it was apparently decided that both genders should have the same uniforms and variants.

This may be part of why the TNG skants are fondly remembered (and even celebrated) by many today – perhaps not necessarily as much for their specific design aesthetic, as their ideology and “statement.”

Theiss may have already been moving toward a more unisex uniform paradigm with the aborted Star Trek: Phase II, prior to the movies and long before The Next Generation.

It appears that in the abandoned Phase II, women would’ve finally been permitted to wear pants with their Starfleet uniforms, as evidenced by the uniform trousers below (presumably for wear by Janice Rand):

Star Trek Phase II uniforms
STAR TREK: PHASE II trousers auction photos

While not a literal inspiration for the unisex TNG skants, I believe this was perhaps a notable shift in the psychology of Theiss’ Starfleet uniform paradigm.

Ladies were no longer limited to “skants,” dresses, and mini-skirts, but they could dress in uniforms more analogous to those the men wore.

Although we may be reading a lot into the abandoned Phase II uniforms, we do know for sure that the uniforms Robert Fletcher designed for The Motion Picture and subsequent three movies were essentially unisex.

Star Trek uniforms - The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (publicity photo)
Star Trek uniforms - The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (publicity photo)

The Next Generation took things a step further by demonstrating that in the future, not only was it acceptable for women to wear the same uniforms the men wore, but that men could wear the same ones that the women wore!

Buster it's all regulation GIF

As a side note, a unisex mini-dress may seem like an unnatural development following the woven, structured, and tailored TWOK-era uniforms.

However, we should bear in mind just how much, and how fast, mainstream fashion can change; just look at the past few decades … we really have no idea what will be fashionable centuries from now!

Fashion meme 1

In Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, Theiss is quoted saying, “… It’s also fashionably probable that four hundred years from now men would wear skants.”

(This quotation was, itself, from “Bill Theiss: The Lost Interview.”)

Of course, his prediction was rather far-fetched … in that he thought it would take four hundred years, rather than forty. 🙂

Fashion meme 2

Appearances

The TNG skant’s most notable appearance was by Counselor Troi, who wore this uniform style during The Next Generation’s pilot.  

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x1 "Encounter at Farpoint"

She also wore the TNG skant during the “past” sequences of the series finale, which took place during and immediately prior to the events of the pilot.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 7x25 “All God Things …”

The only other instance of a main character wearing the TNG skant was by Tasha Yar, for the final (interior) shot of the pilot episode.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x1 "Encounter at Farpoint"

The TNG skants were consistently worn by many women throughout The Next Generation’s first season – nearly every episode, albeit mostly by extras/background performers.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x3 "The Naked Now"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x6 "Where No One Has Gone Before"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x9 "The Battle"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x10 "Hide and Q"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x12 "The Big Goodbye"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x14 "Angel One"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x15 "11001001"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x17 "When the Bough Breaks"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x18 "Home Soil"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x19 "Coming of Age"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x20 "Heart of Glory"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x121 "The Arsenal of Freedom"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x22 "Symbiosis"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x23 "Skin of Evil"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x125 "Conspiracy"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x26 "The Neutral Zone"

Male crew wearing the TNG skant were more common earlier in the season.

There were quite a few male extras rocking the TNG skant in the pilot, the first of whom was seen in literally the second (interior) shot of the show – immediately after the introductory shot of Captain Picard.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x1 "Encounter at Farpoint"

(For whatever it’s worth, I’m pretty sure that was the same extra walking by in the upper two examples.)

After the pilot, though, men were seldom seen wearing the TNG skants.

Several episodes later, this male crew member was prominently (albeit briefly) seen wearing the skant.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x6 "Where No One Has Gone Before"

A few episodes after that, this guy was chilling by the door during Deanna’s pre-wedding reception, apparently ready to bolt the moment things got uncomfortable – and who can blame him?

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x11 "Haven"

And a few episodes later, we again saw a familiar male crew member rocking the TNG uniform skant, but it appears to just have been recycled footage from a previous episode …

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x6 "Where No One Has Gone Before"
TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x15" 11001001"

Obviously, the whole “unisex skant” idea was immediately toned down after the pilot and fizzled out pretty quickly after that … 

Buster society never accept this GIF

To the best of my knowledge, the only other appearance of a male crew member wearing the TNG skant was this fellow’s brief appearance in the season’s penultimate episode.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 1x25 "Conspiracy"

Durinda Rice Wood took over as costume designer for The Next Generation’s second season, and the TNG skant appearances were further reduced to infrequent, “blink and you’ll miss them” moments in the background.

And incidentally – either by Wood’s decision, the producers’, or both – the skants were always worn with pants that season.

We first saw her take on the “skant” uniform styles on this extra, early in the season premiere:

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 2x1 "The Child"

I’d previously believed that with the exception of the series finale, that was the final appearance of the TNG skants in the show.

Obi-Wan I was wrong GIF

It turns out the TNG skants did make a few more scattered appearances throughout season two – always worn with pants – and I’d again like to thank Jörg Hillebrand for bringing these to my attention. 🙂

A few episodes into the season, this lady was hanging out in Ten Forward while wearing the skant.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 2x4 “The Outrageous Okuna”

A couple episodes after that, this extra wore the skant for multiple bridge scenes.  

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 2x6 “The Schizoid Man”

And nearly a dozen episodes after that, a couple skant-wearing extras walked by in the background.

TNG skant analysis - Star Trek Costume Guide
TNG, 2x17 “Samaritan Snare”

As best as I could determine, those were the only appearances of the TNG skant in season two.

Read my in-universe theory as to why the TNG skants disappeared here:

Also, what if the TNG crew had all worn the skants?

Check out my gallery of speculative cast photos here:

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