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Star Trek: Discovery Could Revive The Next Generation's Famous Unisex Dress

By James Whitbrook on at

Star Trek might primarily be about scientific exploration and the joys (and perils) of space travel, but it’s also occasionally about the future of fashion. From wacky interpretations of alien looks to the uniforms of our Starfleet heroes, debates around design and fashion have long been a part of the series, with Discovery soon to add the latest chapter.

After The Next Generation put its stars – well, most of them except Counselor Troi – in figure-hugging jumpsuits to reflect a hundred years of change in Starfleet, it attempted to reconcile its connections to the past of the original Star Trek, in which female Starfleet officers wore miniskirts rather than pants, by introducing what was at the time a very bold idea: Unisex miniskirts worn by both male and female crewmembers. Or, as they’re weirdly officially known by, the skant.

A male Command Ensign wearing a skant in the TNG episode “Where No One Has Gone Before”.

Early episodes of TNG include background actors of multiple genders wearing skants, but the design never really broke out of that background nod to the miniskirts of old. Now, however, Discovery costume designer Gersha Phillips has confirmed that the show is bringing the skant back, and whats to do so in a big way going forward. Speaking to the Daily Dot about the fashions of Discovery’s second season, Phillips confirmed that, sometime in the last few episodes of the season that are left to air, viewers will see the skant make its comeback:

We have! They haven’t come out yet, they’ll be later in the season. I was looking for a particular character to do it on, and we didn’t have anybody specific. It’ll come up closer to the end, but we did do it and we will try to do it going forward.

We already know a skant-cut of Discovery’s uniform already exists – as you can see in the header image above, Enterprise officer Nhan was shown wearing one after she was temporarily re-assigned as the Discovery’s Chief of Security, having already worn the show’s take on the classic Star Trek minidress in the opening episode of the season. So presumably, Phillips means that the skant we’ve yet to see on the show will be worn by both male and female characters.

It’s a fun step to honour both a bit of Star Trek lore, and a way to show how a progressive future like Star Trek’s has embraced truly unisex fashion choices. After all, the jumpsuits of Discovery are, by their nature, unisex – regardless of whatever gender they are, the beings of Starfleet all wear one. But they are still, inherently, designs related to the tropes of what is seen as traditional menswear. Even in 2019, seeing male-presenting people in typically “feminine” clothing is still seen as a bold idea – one that Star Trek as a franchise should have no problems embracing alongside its other boldly goings.