April 11, 2015

Analysis, part 3 - Front opening

There were generally two manners in which the jumpsuit was worn. 

The first was with a front opening several inches below the bottom of the yoke - i.e. "slightly unzipped." 

The Deep Space Nine Starfleet cast all wore theirs in this manner right from beginning, when these uniforms were first introduced in the pilot, "Emissary," suggesting that this was the standard manner for these uniforms to be worn. 

With the exception of Dr. Bashir intermittently throughout season 4 (see our "Misc. Observations and Errors" section) and Worf, the Starfleet main and supporting characters on DS9 all wore their uniforms in this manner for the duration of their use.

All of the members of the TNG crew who sported this uniform in their feature film debut, Generations (which was theatrically released approximately a third of the way through DS9's third season), also wore their uniforms in this manner. 

The other manner in which this uniform was worn was with the front closed ("zipped") all the way to the bottom of the yoke - that is, without the front opening extending onto the body (black) portion of the jumpsuit.

This wearing style was introduced in Voyager's pilot, "Caretaker," on the characters of the EMH, Harry Kim, and Tuvok, suggesting that this was something of a more "prim and proper" way of wearing the uniform.

While admittedly a good look for these characters, it raised the question of the "proper" manner in which this uniform was to be worn; it seems to have been purely aesthetic and arbitrary, with the in-universe explanation perhaps being that the Starfleet personnel were allowed to choose their own look. 

Voyager confused matters further (didn't they always?) by having some members of the crew wear their jumpsuits closed to the yoke (the EMH, Tuvok, and Harry Kim), while simultaneously having other characters wear theirs in the style previously established on Deep Space Nine

When Voyager launched (about halfway through DS9's third season, in 1995), the uniform paradigm changed somewhat as a result of the new wearing style.

Whereas before, the uniform had a standardized look, there were now, inexplicably, two wearing options; the behind-the-camera reasoning was likely, "What looks best on the actor?", while the in-universe reasoning was, perhaps, reflective of the character. 

At Bad Wolf, we interpret the second wearing style as a more "prim and proper," formal, strict, uptight, rule-following, etc. look, and the first wearing style as a more relaxed, casual, informal, laid-back (but still regulation) look. 

Consider that the EMH was programmed by Starfleet to be an indispensible professional aid, Tuvok was a dutiful Vulcan, and Harry Kim was an eager young cadet, fresh out of Starfleet Academy and somewhat tightly wound ("Easy, Mr. Kim, before you sprain something.").

Also, when Worf joined the DS9 crew the following production year, he wore his uniform in the second (closed) style, and we all know how seriously he took his duties!

Of course, in Worf's case, his baldric was probably also a factor; it would have been odd if his jumpsuit's front opening extended beneath the yoke (like, say, the Sisko's) and was partially covered by said baldric, so, logistically, it made sense for his jumpsuit to close above where the baldric normally lay.

Also consider that the characters who wore theirs in the first wearing style (open a bit beneath the yoke) were all more casual characters; Sisko was personable and not opposed to getting his hands dirty, Jadzia could be a bit on the wild side, Bashir and O'Brien liked to enjoy themselves. Chakotay was a terrorist leader, B'Elanna Torres despised having to conform to codes of conduct (at least, early on), Tom Paris was a prisoner and a sort of sarcastic hotshot ace pilot, and they were all adopted into the Starfleet crew.

Interestingly, the original Janeway (played by Genevi√®ve Bujold), wore her uniform jumpsuit in the closed manner, not open like Kate Mulgrew's Janeway - one wonders what this might have said about her character! 

Anyway, not long after Voyager introduced the closed style in "Caretaker," it started popping up on Deep Space Nine, too: 

DS9, 3x26 "The Adversary"

DS9, 4x2
"The Way of the Warrior" (part 2)

DS9, 4x3 "The Visitor"

From then onward, neither show had any qualms with showing both styles on screen simultaneously - again, suggesting that both were regulation. 

The uniforms worn with the "casual" front opening all seem to have been straight-cut (pulling open on the wearer), but, oddly, the ones closed up to the yoke bottom appear to have been cut both straight and angled outward. 

On these uniforms, the front opening appeared to be cut as a straight line, without angling outward. 

As mentioned previously, even a straight-cut front opening would pull outward a bit when worn; the lack of a V-shape cut into the yoke during construction was only especially apparent when characters were in certain positions. 

These yokes, however, were clearly cut with a V-shape: 

There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when they were cut straight and when they were cut angled outward (show, rank, gender, age, race, production year and/or trends, etc.) - at least, none that we could discern.

PREVIOUS: Analysis, part 2 - Yoke (part 2)

NEXT: Analysis, part 4 - Neckline

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