April 12, 2015

Analysis, part 9 - Action pleats

As mentioned previously, the VOY jumpsuit had action pleats on the back, which allowed for a greater range of motion and flexibility. 

Action pleats are fairly common features on garments which require a bit more mobility than usual:

The action pleats were secured internally by a trapezoidal spandex panel on the inside of the jumpsuit, which prevented them from unfolding and/or poking out unnecessarily while still allowing the additional range of motion - a clever way of keeping the back of the uniform looking crisp and sharp while still being functional. 

It is worth noting, however, that the spandex panel was not always present in these jumpsuits (or in the later DS9/NEM style jumpsuits), as evidenced by this picture "Zipkikr1966" shared of his screen-used jumpsuit

We're not sure if there was any rhyme or reason to the usage or lack thereof of the spandex panel; it may have been reserved for principal cast members, it may have been an early construction feature of these uniforms that was eventually phased out, or it could have been the exact opposite (being absent in the early uniforms and later added). It could have been a production/show difference, a production team difference, a budget difference, and either the presence or absence of the spandex panel could have been a brief experiment. 

Who knows? 

Regardless, we definitely prefer the presence of the spandex panel! It keeps the action pleats looking sharp in their (retracted) place, and the additional expense is practically negligible - a few dollars and a half hour or so more. 

The confusion regarding the action pleats is over their tops in relation to the yoke armscye seam - specifically, whether or not the top of the action pleat should intersect the yoke/body seam at the armscye (forming a 3-way intersection) or not, and if not, what the standard distance from the armscye should be. 

In other words, whether the top corner of the action pleat should be flush with the yoke at the armscye, or whether it should be inward a bit (and if so, how much). 

When these uniforms were first introduced in Deep Space Nine, the top of the action pleats seemed to ALWAYS extend all the way to the armscye seams. 

DS9, 1x1 "Emissary"

DS9, 1x5 "Babel"

DS9, 1x7 "Q-Less"

DS9, 1x9 "The Passenger"

DS9, 1x9 "The Passenger"

DS9, 1x9 "The Passenger"

DS9, 1x10
"Move Along Home"

DS9, 1x16
"If Wishes Were Horses"

DS9, 1x17 "The Forsaken"

DS9, 1x17 "The Forsaken"

DS9, 1x20
"In the Hands of the Prophets

This held true through Deep Space Nine's second season, as well.

DS9, 2x2 "The Circle"

DS9, 2x2 "The Circle"

DS9, 2x9 "Second Sight"
DS9, 2x15 "Paradise"

The confusion began the following production year, however, as Deep Space Nine entered its third season, TNG's feature film debut, Generations, was released theatrically, and Voyager launched. 

Right off the bat in Deep Space Nine's third season, the uniforms were "upgraded" slightly (see our "Early DS9 variations" section for more details), and the newer versions were used on the other two productions as well. 

Immediately, the action pleats began inconsistently and inexplicably meeting the yoke a short distance away from the armscyes. 

We might conclude that this was an intentional design revision, but again, it was inconsistent amongst the cast of all three productions, and, indeed, inconsistent all the way through the end of the final season of Voyager

Other than it simply being erroneous, the only other explanation we can find for this is a partial one: we know that with the uniform "upgrades" that production year (1994-1995), the yokes were generally deepened. Perhaps the original jumpsuit bodies (the black portion) remained in use, and only the yokes were replaced - after all, why waste all those perfectly good jumpsuit bodies? - and the deeper yoke "ate into" the action pleats a little bit. 

That theory would explain the DS9 crew's inconsistent action pleats, but not necessarily the TNG crew's, and almost certainly not the VOY crew's, since the show was just launching and they got brand new "hero uniforms!" 

DS9, 3x1 "The Search (part 1)"
As you can see, right off the bat in DS9's third season, the Sisko's action pleat didn't quite reach the armscye:

DS9, 3x4 "Equilibrium"
However, a few episodes later, we saw that Jadzia's still extended all the way to the armscye: 

Oddly, several episodes later, we saw that, like the Sisko's in "The Search," Chief O'Brien's didn't quite reach the armscye, but the Sisko was now wearing a uniform with action pleats that DID! 

DS9, 3x7 "Civil Defense"

Naturally, the principal actors would have multiple costumes made - cleaning convenience and rotation, backups in the case of accidents, (perhaps for their stand-ins, who would be similarly built, as well). 

But one would assume that the garments would be identical, especially if they were all constructed at the same time, as these were! Perhaps there's bound to be some discrepancy amongst the various cast members of the various productions, but it just seems odd that the same character would have several new uniforms constructed (presumably) at the same time that were mismatched ... 

Around that time, Generations was released, and none of the action pleats seemed to touch the armscye. 

Data's looked similar to the Sisko's in "The Search" and O'Brien's in "Civil Defense" (see previous two pages) - that is, they almost reached the armscyes, but not quite. 

Picard's were even farther from the armscyes - the farthest seen yet, actually.

A short while afterward, we again saw the Sisko's intersect the armscye. Dr. Bashir's did, too, in "Past Tense (part 1)." 

DS9, 3x11 "Past Tense (part 1)"

Voyager launched at this point, while Deep Space Nine's third season continued. We'll continue our look at DS9 and then begin with VOY's first season. 

O'Brien's uniform was consistent with his previous one in "Civil Defense" (see above).

DS9, 3x15 "Destiny"

DS9, 3x20 "Improbable Cause"

DS9, 3x25 "Facets"
The Sisko's action pleats continued to extend all the way to the armscyes. 

In fact, with one or two possible exceptions, every other jumpsuit we ever saw on the Sisko for the remainder of its use in DS9 had action pleats which extended onto the armscye - perhaps his jumpsuit in "The Search" (see above) was a fluke? That wouldn't explain the other characters on all three productions, though ... 

In DS9's third season finale, "The Adversary," we clearly see O'Brien's action pleats continued to not quite reach the armscye, although Michael Eddington's clearly did - even though their uniforms would presumably have been made around the same time! 

As if things weren't confusing enough, we saw mismatched action pleat styles throughout Voyager's first season. 

VOY, 1x1 "Caretaker"

VOY, 1x1 "Caretaker"

VOY, 1x4 "Time and Again"

VOY, 1x5 "The Phage"

VOY, 1x7
"Eye of the Needle"

VOY, 1x12
"Heroes and Demons"

VOY, 1x12 "Heroes and Demons"

VOY, 1x15 "Jetrel"

So, for those of us keeping score, that production year, it was a fairly even split between characters whose action pleats met the yoke at the armscyes and those who didn't. Bashir's, Jadzia's, Tom Paris', and Eddington's did; Picard's, Data's, Janeway's, B'Elanna's, and Harry Kim's didn't. The Sisko's did, except for his first (new) jumpsuit. The EMH's sometimes did and sometimes didn't. 

Unfortunately, the jumpsuits would remain inconsistent for the duration of their use (including the later DS9/NEM style). 

Deep Space Nine's jumpsuits seemed, overall, to return to the previously established standard: 

DS9, 4x3 "The Visitor"

DS9, 4x3 "The Visitor"

DS9, 4x4
"Hippocratic Oath"

DS9, 4x10 "Our Man Bashir"

DS9, 4x22 "For the Cause"

DS9, 4x22 "For the Cause"

DS9, 4x23 "To the Death"

DS9, 4x26 "Broken Link"

Note that in "To the Death" (lower left), the Sisko's action pleat looks like it doesn't quite reach; this is one of the possible exceptions mentioned previously.

Unlike Deep Space Nine, that same year, Voyager's second season was more of a mixed bag:

VOY, 2x2 "Initiations"

VOY, 2x5 "Non Sequitor"

VOY, 2x6 "Twisted"

VOY, 2x9 "Tattoo"

VOY, 2x10 "Cold Fire"

VOY, 2x11 "Maneuvers"

VOY, 2x19 "Lifesigns"

VOY, 2x20 "Investigations"

VOY, 2x25 "Tuvix"

So, for those of us still keeping score, that production year seemed to overall mark a trend of reverting to the previously established standard. 

On Deep Space Nine, every character we observed had action pleats that extended onto the armscyes (the Sisko, Jadzia, Bashir, and Eddington). 

On Voyager, most characters we observed did, too (Janeway, Chakotay, the EMH, and Tuvix). Only Harry Kim and B'Elanna didn't. 

Two other misc. observations: first, B'Elanna's action pleats in "Investigations" (lower middle) were the farthest yet observed from the armscyes! 

Also, Tuvix's (lower right) action pleats extended all the way to the armscyes, even though, unlike Eddington, he was a one-time character.

The following production year, the issue became even muddier: 

DS9, 5x2 "The Ship"

Note that both the Sisko's and Worf's in "The Ship" above did not extend to the armscyes (this is the second of the exceptions for the Sisko mentioned previously), although later in the same episode, the Sisko's DID, as did Jadzia's:  

During the remainder of its use on Deep Space Nine (another half season or so), the overall trend continued to be implementing the previously established standard (action pleats extending to the armscyes):

DS9, 5x3
"Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"

DS9, 5x4
"Nor the Battle tot the Strong"

DS9, 5x5 "The Assignment"

DS9, 5x7
"Let He Who Is Without Sin"

Note that in "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" (upper left), one of Jadzia's uniforms had action pleats that extended all the way to the armscyes, and another didn't - in the same episode! 

Also note that O'Brien's extended to the armscyes, as well, unlike the uniforms he wore previously in Deep Space Nine's third season (see above). 

That same production year, Voyager's third season was, again, a mixed bag:

VOY, 3x1
"Basics (part 2)"

VOY, 3x9
"Future's End (part 2)"

VOY, 3x19 "Rise"

VOY, 3x16
"Blood Fever"

VOY, 3x17 "Unity"

VOY, 3x17 "Unity"

VOY, 3x19 "Rise"

VOY, 3x19 "Rise"

VOY, 3x21
"Before and After"

VOY, 3x22 "Real Life"

VOY, 3x24 "Displaced"

VOY, 3x24 "Displaced"

VOY, 3x25 "Worst Case Scenario"

VOY, 3x26 "Scorpion (part 1)"

As you can see, the general trend that production year on both shows seemed to be employing the previous standard early in the year, then (perhaps) moving away from it later. 

Note that Chakotay, Tuvok, and the EMH all had (at least) two jumpsuits - one with action pleats that extended to the armscyes, and one without. (Tuvok wore both in the same episode, "Rise"!) 

Janeway's consistently intersected the armscyes, but Harry Kim's and B'Elanna's seemed never to.

For scorekeeping: with two brief exceptions early in the season (the Sisko and Jadzia), the Deep Space Nine crew's action pleats consistently extended to the armscyes. On Voyager, Janeway's did, while Harry Kim and B'Elanna's didn't. Chakotay, Tuvok, and the EMH all wore both versions. 

Deep Space Nine had "upgraded" to the DS9/NEM-style uniforms introduced the previous production year in TNG's next movie, First Contact, but Voyager continued to use these jumpsuits; they were isolated on the other side of the galaxy, after all, and therefore they wouldn't have gotten the memo about said upgrade. 

The DS9/NEM jumpsuits' action pleats continued the tradition of being inconsistent (see our DS9/NEM jumpsuit pattern analysis/tutorial for a look at them), as did Voyager over the remainder of its run. 

Glimpses of the action pleats were a bit harder to catch in Voyager's fourth season, we managed to get a few: 

VOY, 4x1 "Scorpion (part 2)"

VOY, 4x14 "Message in a Bottle"

VOY, 4x22 "Unforgettable"

VOY, 4x25 "One"

As you can see, Chakotay's action pleats extended to the armscyes, while Harry's continued not to. 

In fact, Harry's looked to be a full inch AWAY from the armscyes, as if his action pleats were retreating away from the armscyes over the years. (Check out his in "Caretaker," "Non Sequitor," "Cold Fire," "Unity," "Message in a Bottle," and "One" above for comparison.) 

Voyager's fifth season continued the confusion: 

VOY, 5x1 "Night"

VOY, 5x4 "In the Flesh"

VOY, 5x25 "Warhead"

VOY, 5x26 "Equinox (part 1)"

That year, the top of Harry's and B'Elanna's action pleats remained consistently out from the armscyes, even though Harry got a new uniform that year (see our "Miscellaneous observations" section). It looks like B'Elanna's action pleats were extended outward a bit over the years, though (compare to "Investigations" and later season 3 above)) ... 

Tom Paris' action pleats extended all the way to the armscyes, and Chakotay again had (at least) two uniforms - one which had action pleats that extended to the armscyes, and one in which they almost did; like Tuvok in "Rise," he wore both versions in the same episode, "In the Flesh" (upper right). 

So, Deep Space Nine went off the air, and the following two production years, Voyager went solo. 

And, naturally, without multiple productions and their ensuing deadlines to contend with, and presumably exclusive focus on Voyager, rather than finally standardizing the action pleats, they became even more inconsistent! 

VOY, 6x2 "Survival Instinct"

VOY, 6x11 "Fair Haven"

VOY, 6x11 "Fair Haven"

VOY, 6x11 "Fair Haven"

VOY, 6x12 "Blink of an Eye"

VOY, 6x14 "Memorial"

VOY, 6x14 "Tsunkatse"

VOY, 6x17 "Spirit Folk"

VOY, 6x26
"Unimatrix Zero (part 1)"

As you can see, that year, Janeway's, Tom Paris', and the EMH's action pleats extended onto the armscyes, while Tuvok's and Harry's did not (though Harry's did look like they were brought quite a bit closer to the armscyes; compare to his uniforms in seasons 4-5). 

Interestingly, both versions were seen in the same episode, "Fair Haven" (see above)! 

Unfortunately, the issue was never resolved. 

The inexplicable contradiction continued all the way through Voyager's final season. 

VOY, 7x2 "Imperfection"

VOY, 7x4 "Repression"
VOY, 7x8 "Nightingale"

VOY, 7x9 "Flesh and Blood"

VOY, 7x11 "Shattered"

VOY, 7x19 "Q2"

VOY, 7x21 "Friendship One"

At least there was a brief, small haven of consistency to be found ...

VOY, 7x24 "Renaissance Man"

As is evident, young Q seems to have been the only character with action pleats extending to the armscyes during Voyager's final season. 

Harry Kim's and B'Elanna's remained away from the armscye seams. 

Chakotay's and the EMH's sometimes met the yoke at the armscyes, and sometimes they didn't. 

So there you have it - a fairly thorough look at the VOY jumpsuit's action pleats in relation to the armscyes over the 11 ½ seasons or so it was in use. 

That's a lot of data, I know, and much of it conflicting ... and it ultimately leaves us to draw our own conclusions as to whether the action pleat should meet the yoke at the armscyes or a short distance inward (away from the armscyes). 

There didn't seem to be any particular rhyme or reason; we identified no pattern to the two styles' usage over the years (production/show difference, gender, height, rank, division, principal cast member vs. extra, shift in style, etc.). 

Given the evidence, the only conclusion we could be reasonably sure of is that these jumpsuits were originally intended to have their action pleats meet the yoke at the armscyes, but this changed for unknown reasons once the uniforms were revised at the beginning of DS9's third season and when VOY launched. 

Perhaps the change was intentional; perhaps it was not. Perhaps nobody on the costuming staffs noticed, knew, or cared. Perhaps the later "style" was mostly construction errors that inevitably pop up over the years, which others saw, interpreted as some sort of standard, and decided to implement. 

VOY, 1x12 "Heroes and Demons"
I mean, forget discrepancies in the same episode (such as the handful that have been mentioned here); consider that we saw major differences in the same SHOT sometimes! 

Such things were not uncommon, especially on Voyager (there was more consistency on Deep Space Nine).

PREVIOUS: Analysis, part 8 - Front Zipper Closure

NEXT: Analysis, part 10 - Action Pleats Summary

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