ranking starfleet uniforms

I’m not gonna rank every fucking uniform that Starfleet produced. Some were designed to simply be shown once. So I’m only evaluating the uniforms that were created to be the full-time outfits for a particular series or film.

13. Star Trek Discovery

To my surprise, there are devoted fans to this show. I don’t get it, but to each their own. But we can all agree that these uniforms are just straight up shit. They are neither militaristic nor do they look comfortable. This is just reason #57482 of why I hate this show.

12. TOS- The Cage/Where No Man Has Gone Before

I’m sure there’s a difference between the uniforms in these two episodes, but whatever they are, they’re minor. Now these outfits do look comfortable, however they look a little too warm. Under a stressful situation, I’d burn the fuck up in those sweaters. Plus, in the early days, there were only TWO Starfleet divisions: Command Gold and Science Blue. Without the Engineering/Security/General pissant Red, these uniforms don’t pop as well.

11. The Motion Picture

A part of me likes these uniforms. I think it’s very important that you’re able to see the outline of a Starfleet Officer’s junk. But I understand people’s objections. They do lack the color that made the TOS uniforms so iconic.

10. TNG Films/DS9 Seasons 4-7

I thought these were cool when I was a kid. But now, they just lack the fun of their predecessors. The grey shoulders just seem pointless. I dunno, this is just ‘meh’ for me.

9. Voyager/DS9 Seasons 1-3/Generations

I like the idea of these uniforms. It’s supposed to make officers seem more “mechanically inclined”. Which is fine. DS9 teased out the idea that ship crews wear standard TNG uniforms while crews stationed everywhere else wore these. But they didn’t stick with that concept, which annoyed the shit out of me. That’s why they’re ranked this low.

8. Beyond

These are just cheap knockoffs of the TOS classics. They’re a clear downgrade from the next ones on the list.

7. ST09/Into Darkness

They took an iconic look and turned it into something fresh. That’s incredibly hard to do. They seem both practical and comfortable. The only knock is that the pattern looks cool from a distance, but upon closer inspection, it’s just a bunch of Starfleet emblems. Kinda lame, tbh.

6. Enterprise

Probably the most realistic of the bunch. There’s not much to say about it, other than it would make sense that these would be the first uniforms for a new space fleet.

5. TNG-Seasons 3-7

It feels wrong to put these down this low. These are great uniforms. But they simply got beat out by the last 4.

4. The Wrath of Khan

These uniforms come and go with me. God knows I love Nicholas Meyer, but sometimes I wish he didn’t take the uniforms in this direction. Starfleet *technically* isn’t a military organization. But these uniforms say otherwise.

As a former military man, I can tell you that these would be impractical for standard military operations (unless, I assume, you’re bridge crew in the Navy). For those purposes, the pajama-like outfits worn in TOS are far more suitable, and for that reason REALISTIC, which runs contrary to what most people think about the military. You gotta be comfortable, protected, and not constricted.

So that’s my main beef with these outfits. But aesthetically, they’re incredible! And since Strange New Worlds has updated their appearance, these uniforms look better than ever.

3. Strange New Worlds

The producers of Discovery fucked up when they reintroduced the iconic uniforms in Season 2. I don’t know what the fuck was up with that collar. But they remedied that mistake in SNW.

I’m glad that the designers trusted what came before and didn’t try to do too much to update it.

Which leads me to…

2. TOS

Gold, blue, and red. What else is there to say?

1. TNG- Seasons 1 and 2

“You’re fucking kidding right?”

Nope.

We all know how this uniform was taken away: Patrick Stewart’s chiropractor had a lot to say about them. Which kinda makes Stewart an important figure in Starfleet uniform history.

Prior to TNG, commanding officers wore the color gold…for example: Captain Kirk. Then Patrick Stewart was cast and the producers realized that he looked terrible in gold. So now the commanding ranks wear red. And that change has never been explained in Star Trek canon 👍

But I love these jumpsuits. If I ever decide to pay money for one of these uniforms, this is the one I would buy. Are they cheesy? Absolutely. To me, they’re the most sci-fi looking of the bunch.

And besides, yeah they might’ve been bad for his back, but Patrick Stewart looked DAMN good in this uniform.

leadership

As you know, I have nothing but regrets.

I’m reaching that age where some of my superiors are younger than me. I don’t begrudge them. They all deserves their spots. Some older guys I work with don’t appreciate that they got passed over, but I think it’s our responsibility…as the “elders”…to bestow upon the younger generation what wisdom we have learned (in my case, what little wisdoms I have learned).

I don’t know if this is a regret I have, it’s more like a big “what if”. I spent some time in the military. Even did three years of ROTC in college. It’s laughable to think I could have been an officer now, but it almost happened (before I realized that I loved drinking WAY more than I loved the military). Despite the abysmal failure of that endeavor, a few lessons stuck with me.

“Just make a decision,” I’d always hear, “don’t worry about if it’s the correct one.” I thought that was stupid advice at the time, especially in a military situation where people’s lives might depend on it. But it seems to make a little more sense now.

Who are the three greatest military commanders of all time? It’s obvious: Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, and Captain Sisko.

The three guys in the middle

“But they aren’t real,” you might say.

So? Real life isn’t real.

I remember Mike Stoklasa praising Bill Shatner’s acting capabilities (in a video discussing Shatner’s hatred of Mike Stoklasa). You can laugh all you want, but it’s true: Shatner is an extraordinarily effective actor. And, for better or worse, Captain Kirk is Bill Shatner and Bill Shatner is Captain Kirk.

Kirk understands that he is playing a part as Captain of the Enterprise. He has to project confidence as its leader because the survival of his ship might depend on it. Shatner, I think, understands that Kirk himself is playing a part, which might explain some of the strange speech patterns he exhibits throughout the series and films.

That’s why I think it’s great that the handlers of Star Trek (at least back then) cast classically trained thespians for the role of the Captain. Just the ability to “play the role” is necessary for the crew to rally behind, even when the leader isn’t completely confident in his (or her) decisions.

Obviously Picard is the superior Captain. No disrespect to Shatner, but Patrick Stewart knows when to dial up the acting and when to hold back (even if, in my belief, Stewart didn’t completely understand the appeal of his character or Star Trek). But what Picard does better than anyone is embrace his mission: “explore strange new worlds”. He seeks out moral quandaries and mysteries because he understands that these hold the secrets of the universe. He’s an explorer but not in the usual sense of the term.

I think to be a leader, one has to be open to that sort of exploration.

Of course, Sisko was far more grounded than either Kirk or Picard. He had a life outside of Starfleet and his job was to navigate the political complexities of a particular section of the galaxy. While Kirk and Picard were explorers, Sisko’s mission was different: he was an ambassador attempting to bring together warring factions. But just like everyone else, he had to “play the part.”

“But those were actors that had scripts,” you might say. “Real life doesn’t have a script.”

True that, but if you understand the more technical aspects of your work, in a sense you kinda already do have a script. You can’t just willy nilly your way through a job, you are confined and in many aspects you have direction. It’s just making the best decision with the options you have.

So I think it’s interesting that the three best Captains in Star Trek history each explore the three most important aspects of leadership: confidence (or the projection of), eagerness to accept challenges, and being the middle man between conflicting parties. But most importantly, “just play the part.”