Fashionably Late in the 24th Century -by Rick Austin @EvolvedRick

Star Trek has offered us some of the coolest things in sci-fi television and movies. It’s given us transporters and technobabble, great action stories and tales of intrigue, adventure and comedy. It’s shown a positive view of the future, where people can learn to look beyond their prejudices and work for the betterment of humankind. It’s been inspiring while still entertaining us. But there’s an area where it really hasn’t excelled at all, and we all know the truth here:

The fashion of the future stinks.

TAIN: So, you're a tailor now. Is this one of your creations?  GARAK: A minor example of my work, yes.  TAIN: I don't think I like the neckline.  GARAK: Well you always did have a keen sense of fashion, but you seem to have let it go along with your once trim figure.

TAIN: So, you’re a tailor now. Is this one of your creations?
GARAK: A minor example of my work, yes.
TAIN: I don’t think I like the neckline.
GARAK: Well you always did have a keen sense of fashion, but you seem to have let it go, along with your once trim figure.

Okay, that’s not entirely true; those Starfleet uniforms usually look pretty good and quite smart. Except for those in the original pilot episode, where every crewmember seemed to be wearing an oversized sweater. Or the early Next Generation bodysuits and tunics, which were deemed so uncomfortable that the actors hated wearing them. Something can be said about the short trousers and even shorter skirts in the original series too, although those really do work once you learn to accept them.

Oh, and Wesley’s early uniforms. From his grey bodysuit to his rainbow uniform, there wasn’t much to like about them. There wasn’t much people liked about the ensign wearing them either, but he did improve over time, as did his uniform.

In general, however, it seemed the clothes everybody wore were hideous. From off-duty officers in weird pyjamas to aliens who appeared to be wearing your grandmother’s curtains, the fashions didn’t do much for them. Sure, the Klingons seemed to have some nice clothes at times if you’re big on leather armour, but some of the early sashes actually appeared to have tassels. It isn’t the only bling they’ve worn either, with all the facial jewellery they now seem to have in the movies.

By the way, how did Nero changing the timeline in the first new film give them back their forehead ridges and inspire them to get on the piercing bandwagon anyway? I must have missed that part. But I’m digressing from the point: it seems like in the future the human race will start wearing oddly patterned, brightly coloured wool-knit adult babygrows.

But that’s science fiction for you. The people behind these stories have to make things look different from what we know, so plates are now in odd shapes, bottles don’t look like bottles, vehicles look like concept cars, and hairstyles have to be more elaborate. Unfortunately, that means that the clothes have to follow suit, but there are very few casual wear outfits we’d really want to wear that are on offer.

There’s one that I really liked though, and it’s in one of the best episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

It’s in “Explorers”. The main plot features Ben Sisko building an ancient Bajoran space vessel based on the old schematics. The Cardassians deny claims that one made the trip from Bajor to their world, and even the most optimistic people on board DS9 doubt it’ll fly at all. But Sisko builds it anyway, and by hand. He just keeps pushing to find out the truth behind the tales. When it’s built, he wants to try it out, and spend some quality time with his son at the same time.

It’s a fantastic episode and a major turning point for the show, even though it doesn’t seem like it at first glance. Sisko gets his goatee, something so simple but a sign of change. Jake, just a small boy until that stage, suddenly seems taller and talks as an equal. Jake’s decision to follow his own stars, so to speak, and become a writer show that he’s not a kid anymore; he’s becoming a man. It’s an episode about a father and son bonding together, something the show hadn’t done up to that stage.

After a bit of a rocky ride, they get where they’re going and prove that the stories were all true. They may have proved them later than some would have liked, but finally the Cardassians acknowledge that the original trip wasn’t just possible, but had happened. It’s a happy ending to an episode full of hope, and one that’s a turning point for a show that many initially dismissed. Like proving the Bajoran stories true, it was late in coming, but fashionably late.

Oddly, I like Sisko’s outfit in this episode too. He’s out of uniform and in civilian garb, and for once it doesn’t look ridiculous. It looks like something I’d like to wear. Go back and watch it and you may like it too. It looks comfortable, stylish and dignified. For a series that repeatedly failed in the fashion stakes, this is one time it really worked. I don’t even like fashion (I tend to dress like a tourist in Hawaii), but even I knew it looked good.

Deep Space Nine was fashionably late as a series, but made one of the biggest impacts with fans over time. The villains in it arrived fashionably late. Sisko’s proper look and captaincy arrived fashionably late too. Bashir’s and O’Brien’s friendship, the bonding between the characters, the Defiant, and what the show became: all were fashionably late. Even the fashions themselves.

Sometimes the good things are worth the wait. Waiting can be frustrating, but it can pay off. You just have to give it time.

Sisko on the Baraka

Sisko on the Baraka

Author: Rick Austin

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