Star Trek TOS Female Uniforms

TOS is The Original Series, from way back when. I was provoked to think about it when I learned of what Melania Trump wore to Houston, Texas when she and her husband visited there after Hurricane Harvey struck that city. She wore high-heeled shoes with 4-in (10-cm) spike heels. FACT CHECK: Melania Trump Wore Heels to Texas After a Hurricane? has the story. She wore them while on the way to Air Force One, but she wore sneakers in Houston. Melania Trump sports heels for second Hurricane Harvey tour, here again, she wore high-heeled shoes only at the Washington DC end of her trip.

Such shoes are impractical for rough ground and natural-disaster areas, and that made me think about the female uniforms of Star Trek TOS. In its two pilot episodes, both sexes wore the same kind of uniform: colored shirts and black pants. But in the series proper, the Enterprise crewwomen wore colored minidresses, a.k.a. tunics or miniskirts.

These uniforms have provoked a lot of controversy, because they seem more suited for male titillation than anything else. But some of the wearers of these uniforms seemed to like them (Star Trek Miniskirts: Feminist or Nah? | Comparative Geeks, Star Trek’s Underappreciated Feminist History by Shannon Mizzi | The Wilson Quarterly). Miniskirts were a big fashion in the 1960’s, and many of their wearers considered them a sign of sexual liberation, liberation from having to be covered up and hidden away. However, that fashion did not last, and many women started wearing pants — and have continued wearing pants to the present day.

TOS’s minidresses were apparently the idea of Grace Lee Whitney, who played Janice Rand, the one with the basket-weave hairstyle. Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, also liked them. But after TOS, women’s uniforms all had pants until the Kelvin-Universe reboot, and that reboot was an exception because it is an alternate-universe version of TOS.

My objection to those minidresses is that they are totally unsuitable for any sort of work except the most physically light sorts of work, and I mean unsuitable in a practical sort of sense. It’s like Melania Trump’s high heels. The later ST iterations’ pants are much more suitable.

I must note something that got it right before Star Trek. In 1955, a certain George Adamski wrote Inside the Spaceships, a purportedly nonfictional work about his meetings with human(oid) inhabitants of other Solar-System planets, inhabitants who have a sort of United Federation of Planets. When he encounters two crewwomen aboard one of the titular spaceships, they are wearing long dresses with jeweled belts. But that is their off-duty clothing, because when on-duty, they wear jumpsuits just like their male counterparts.

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