"Star Trek: The Next Generation" (ST:TNG) is a sci-fi classic for a lot of reasons, but the creative and often daring costumes proved especially enthralling for many fans.
The series spans an impressive 178 episodes (seven seasons). The third "Star Trek" series, TNG aimed to continue the adventurous timeline of "Star Trek: The Original Series," roughly 100 years after the events of the first series.
Robert Blackman had a major part in creating TNG's memorable visual landscape, working as the costume designer for the series in Seasons 3-7. His avant-garde designs landed him 10 Emmy nominations, including two wins. With the new "Star Trek: Picard" series, which will star TNG Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), fastly approaching in 2020, let's take a look back at some of Picard's most memorable, chic and surprising fashion moments.
The birth of the Picard maneuver
Bathroom breaks surely became a little easier for the crew after they transitioned to two-piece uniforms. The color pattern stayed the same, but a higher, mock-neck collar made the look more polished. The new uniform also gave Stewart everything he needed to inadvertently invent what is known as "The Picard Maneuver."
Within the show, that term actually refers to a battle tactic conceived by the captain, but fans use the term to describe Picard's frequent shirt tugs, usually performed when he rises from his seat. Viewers have even created an abundance of video compilations of the move.
Bring on the formal wear
When welcoming big-wig delegates to the ship, Picard certainly does dress to impress. This mid-thigh-length tunic features in the episodes "Sarek" (S:3, E: 23) and "The Perfect Mate" (S: 5, E: 21). It is essentially a longer version of the typical Starfleet uniform, with an asymmetric, wrap-over collar embellished with gold trim.
Picard also wears his usual black slacks, not tights (darn). In earlier seasons, male crew members frequently donned short-sleeved versions of these skirt-like tunics, with bare legs.
The uniform comes in jacket!
Picard's jacket features in a couple of episodes, including "Darmok" (S:5, E:2) and "Attached" (S:7, E:5). This choice in casual-duty attire was perplexing. After all, isn't this just another version of the captain's uniform? Why make it a jacket? And why doesn't anyone else get one? Possibly, the jacket allowed for better maneuverability in the field, but who could say exactly why the show opted for this garment.
Still, it's a pretty cool piece, complete with ribbed, leather shoulders, banded cuffs and a sleek, suede body. It also appears to be an open-front jacket, with no visible zippers or buttons. The jacket did, however, change between Seasons 3 and 7. In later episodes, the leather shoulders gave way to a black fabric, perhaps microsuede.
Earl grey, HOT
It's more than an undershirt. Another piece from Picard's "casual duty" wardrobe, this understated, yet spiffy gray shirt was often paired with his open, matching red jacket. It got the most exposure in "Darmok," but the look appears in a number of episodes from Season 5 onward.
The shirt comes complete with ribbed, fabric shoulders and a loose, steel-gray body that Picard seems to have tucked into his pants — so, unfortunately, no Picard Maneuver to be seen here.
"Darmok" was a particularly poignant episode. A member of an alien race, desperate to communicate but able to speak only in metaphors, snatches up Picard and brings him to planet El-Adrel to help fight a fearsome beast.
The captain later realizes that the entire point of this endeavour is to establish communication. Teamwork brings human and alien together, and the two races are finally able to understand each other through a common language, of sorts. Spoiler alert – his shirt suffers some damage in this interstellar kerfuffle.
Frilled to see you
Whether he's wooing a fellow music lover with some killer flute skills or talking shop with an always-just-out-of-reach love interest (ahem, Dr. Beverly Crusher), Picard definitely spent time digging through his drawers for this very garment. It features in "Lessons" (S:6, E:19) and "Attached" (S:7, E:5). This asymmetric wrap shirt is pleated on one side and flat on the other. It is a semi-metallic, floral brocade in a dusty, chartreuse hue. The choice of complementary pants in a light French gray further softens this evening look.
Unfortunately for Picard, there is an unspoken rule about commitment and family for starship captains: AIN'T. GONNA. HAPPEN. Nonetheless, Jean-Luc always brings his fashion A game, and we must all bask in the glory of the sensual, neutral tones in this iconic look.
Sari, not sorry
At last, the perfect piece of sleepwear. Lightweight, breathable cotton shorts with a matching robe? In a soothing Aegean blue? Yes, please. This masculine, yet simple ensemble features in "Devil's Due" (S:4, E:13). The belted, sari-esque top perfectly defines the captain's lean physique as he makes the bold choice to fasten the belt low along his waistline, revealing some fierce (and fiercely hairy) man chest.
The paired short-shorts remind the audience that, oh yeah, Jean-Luc is fit! You might wonder why the often prudish captain is standing in the middle of a laboratory in his jammies. Or, more importantly — what the heck is in those beakers? This strange scene unfolds because a mischievous being named Ardra, posing as an omnipotent "god," abruptly teleports the captain there as a lark. Later, Picard exposes her as a fraud, restoring peace to the tormented planet Ventax II.
The tan line must be drawn Here
For a guy who hates downtime, Picard certainly comes prepared. In "Captain's Holiday" (S:3 E:19), Cmdr. William Riker and the rest of the crew (though it's mostly Riker) persuade the captain to take a much needed vacation on Risa, a designated "pleasure planet" complete with resorts, gardens and beaches. After some resistance, he agrees to go. But, being terrible at relaxing, Picard gets swept up in an archeological adventure, where he meets love interest Vash.
Here, we see Picard in one of the series' most memorable outfits. His seashell-white, short-sleeved, paper-thin robe has angled, asymmetrical pockets. Yes, you're seeing that right: One pocket is much deeper (and higher up) than the other. The star of the show, though, has to be Picard's tight and shiny spandex boy-shorts, which really grab the eye.
In what would otherwise be a monochromatic ensemble, the green and blue racer stripes on his Speedo add a demure, but daring edge. Unfortunately, this outfit never appears in another episode. But fans can hope for a reappearance in the upcoming "Picard."
A blast from the past
Trekkies are well acquainted with this iconic uniform. It is known mostly from the Original Series films like "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." This tunic jacket can open at the top to reveal a delightfully bland, beige chest accent with a gold-embellished, black border trim. Instead of relying on color-coded shirts and pips, Starfleet officers in the original series wore rank insignia, seen on the shoulder straps and lower sleeves of their uniforms.
Usually, the color of the collared undershirt and a colored stripe running down the leg of their black trousers indicated a person's branch aboard the ship. In this case, however, you actually see a cadette Picard! In "Tapestry" (S:6 E:15), an omnipotent being known as Q takes Jean-Luc back in time to the moment he lost his heart in a bar brawl.
That's right. Picard has been walking around with a fake heart THIS WHOLE TIME. In the "It's a Wonderful Life"-style storyline, Q gets Picard to realize that his mistakes made him the man he is today and that he should have no regrets.
Looking for a private eye?
If you had a holodeck (and an endless wardrobe of costumes), which fictional character would you dress up as for an adventure? For Picard, it's Dixon Hill, a gumshoe from 1940s San Francisco. Referenced as a character in a series of holo-novels, Hill and his various capers were entirely invented for TNG by screenwriter Tracy Tormé.
Nonetheless, Picard is rocking it. He takes to the holodeck as Hill in episodes like "The Big Goodbye" (S:1, E:12) and "Clues" (S:4, E:14). When portraying his alter ego, the captain takes on many looks, which usually involve a fedora. Here, he wears a slimming, double-breasted, solid-navy suit; a gray, button-down shirt; and a ruby-red tie. Other times, he often layers a classic tan trench coat over this gorgeous ensemble.
Men in tights
If you're thinking this must be another Q episode that sweeps Picard up and awkwardly places him in a confusing scenario with an arbitrary moral buried under his appointed quest, well ... you're right! This seems to happen to the captain quite frequently. In "Qpid" (S:4, E:20), the omnipotent Q desperately tries to reunite Picard and the captain's love interest Vash. So, Q being Q, he goes about it in the most elaborate and embarrassing way possible.
Q slaps some tights on Picard and sends him and his crew to medieval England to role-play as Robin Hood and his merry men and rescue Maid Marian (Vash) from the clutches of the sheriff of Nottingham (Q). Here, we see the captain rocking thick, dark-taupe tights under a rough, olive-colored tunic with some Robin Hood-esque thick-fringed sleeves. An off-white Bastian shirt and a pair of leather gauntlets complete the rugged ensemble.
Of course, Picard tops off the look by adding a long feather to an iconic byecocket cap. Fans might notice another sweet detail: the captain's goatee. It is both glorious and pays homage to Errol Flynn's 1938 rendition of the beloved character in "The Adventures of Robin Hood."
Burgundy, teal and gunmetal gray? A luscious combo indeed. In the episode "Starship Mine" (S:6, E:18), the Enterprise docks at space station Remmler Array and is evacuated to undergo a routine decontamination sweep. Picard seizes the opportunity to go horseback riding.
Upon leaving his quarters after a last-minute costume change, he discovers a gang of thieves attempting to steal trilithium resin (a very explosive material) from the ship's warp drives. With the Enterprise's entire crew off the ship, the captain must take the thieves on alone.
Here, we see him in an open, deep-red, velvet jacket with a dusty-teal, silk wrap shirt that once again bears that Jean-Luc chest we all love. He wears what appears to be gray corduroy riding pants that show off some seriously swole quads. The bold color palette is quite the departure from the captain's usual, neutral-toned casual wear.
Great vintage fashion
You might not catch it upon first glance, but this is yet another asymmetric outfit! And if you look closely, you'll notice … that's right … a cold-shoulder, cropped smock in faded plaid layered over a long-sleeved, blue flannel shirt. It's plaid inception! The two-part episode that features this ensemble is appropriately titled "All Good Things" (S:7, E:25 and 26), and it is the series finale.
You might wonder why Picard looks a little like Gorton's fisherman here. It's because he is jumping around three different points in time after falling into a space-time anomaly. And this setting, even farther in the future than the series' regular events, is one of them. In fact, you'll likely catch many futuristic, silver hairdos among the "aged" crewmembers, and they are undoubtedly epic.
If this ensemble had a name, it would probably be "withered." The captain's gray, tattered overalls and wicker farmer's hat really capture the tired-vintner-with-a-past vibe. All in all, this is an episode worth watching, as it both properly honored the end of a fine series and showcased an unforgettable Jean-Luc fashion moment.
Furiosa, is that you? Pictured here is Picard's idea of pirate wear. How anyone on that pirate frigate buys that this Shakespearean gentleman is a cut-throat, renegade pirate is, quite frankly, impossible to understand. But alas.
In the two-parter "Gambit" (S:7, E:4 and 5), the crew goes in search of a missing Picard only to learn, through shady sources, that he's been murdered while on an archeological dig. Of course, this isn't true, as Riker finds the captain enslaved on a mercenary ship under the alias Galen. The commander spots Picard playing the part of a tough and rugged pirate, but it's all too obvious that he's really our favorite flute-playin', tea-drinkin' Starfleet captain.
While aboard this pirate ship, Picard has to dress the part. And apparently, that means belts. Belts and belts and more belts that don't seem to serve a purpose. To go along with all those accessories, the captain wears a zip-up utility jacket that appears to be made of two kinds of suede in dueling brown shades. This is certainly a special piece of rogue wear (sneak skill: +20).
Resistance is fashionable
Everyone has a goth phase, apparently even Picard. In an epic two-parter episode, "Best of Both Worlds" (S:3, E: 26 and S:4, E:1), we see our beloved captain get abducted by an aggressive cyborg alien group known as the Borg. They partially assimilate him into their collective and attempt to destroy the starship Enterprise, with Earth as their next target.
This outfit is, to quote Jay-Z, all-black everything. The outfit comes complete with a mock turtleneck, a variety of plastic implants, tubing, and, yes, plastic abs and a crotch guard. What's with all the tubing, you ask?
The Borg, being of a hive mentality, share a collective consciousness, with every individual linked to a main network where they can communicate and even share energy to heal the wounded. Picard was ultimately rescued by the Enterprise crew before he could be fully assimilated, but the disturbing experience would scar him for life.
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Diana Whitcroft joined Space.com (Future, PLC) in the fall of 2017. After receiving a B.F.A in Directing & Producing for Film and Television, she worked as a video editor at CNBC in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. During her time in broadcast television, she created a role for herself as a "Science Preditor" in which she produced and edited content specific to the business aspect of the private sector space industry. Searching for a deeper role within the science journalism sector, Diana came to Space.com as a Social Media Editor, handling multimedia content for all social pages. She is a hardcore trekkie, comic nerd, lover of fashion and all-around space geek.