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In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Encounter at Farpoint, we see Deanna Troi wearing some kind of mini-skirt uniform.

Deanna Troi's mini-skirt uniform

I did not remember this before, as Troi wore more casual clothing later in the show, but I thought it was a great tribute to Uhura's uniform in the original series.

But later in this episode, we see this:

A man wearing a mini-skirt uniform, just like Troi's

While I did not see all TNG episodes, I do not remember anyone else wearing this kind of outfit. It's just that I wouldn't see Picard (or worse, Worf) wearing that!

I could imagine it's the next step in gender equality, but how did it came in the show and how it left?

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Speculation: Since we'd seen miniskirt uniforms in original series, they were stuck with the idea; since they wanted to emphasize gender equality in TNG, they showed a male crew member wearing one. Having made the point, they dropped it for the rest of the series, switching to more sensible uniforms for everyone. (Or maybe he's Scottish.) –  Keith Thompson Feb 18 '12 at 2:16
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Looks to me like he's wearing it. He doesn't really have the legs for it though. –  Keen Feb 18 '12 at 2:18
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I think I could forgive him the skirt if he hadn't paired it with those boots. How gauche! –  gnovice Feb 18 '12 at 2:43
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It makes him feel pretty, who are we to judge? –  Jeff Feb 18 '12 at 5:48
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Oh, you guys should definitely try these smart-ass remarks on a Roman legionnaire. –  Beta Feb 18 '12 at 6:25
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4 Answers

up vote 34 down vote accepted

According to Memory Alpha, it's a "skant":

Introduced alongside the standard duty uniform jumpsuit, a skirt or "skant"-style uniform was also available to Starfleet officers as early as 2364. Similar to its jumpsuit counterpart, the skant uniform was a short-sleeved one piece skirt, that could be worn with or without trousers, and included thigh high, or shorter, black boots.

It was worn by both genders –though men tended to wear the shorter boots –until it was phased out of service some time before 2365. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "Where No One Has Gone Before", "The Child", "All Good Things...").

It goes on to say:

According to the book The Art of Star Trek, "the skirt design for men 'skant' was a logical development, given the total equality of the sexes presumed to exist in the 24th century."

The uniform was used primarily by background actors, though "Encounter at Farpoint" featured both Deanna Troi and Natasha Yar in skant-type uniforms, the latter only briefly. While Troi got a new look entirely for subsequent episodes (according to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion the uniform was referred to as the "Space Cheerleader" look), Yar remained in her jumpsuit uniform for the rest of her stay aboard the Enterprise, never donning the skant after the pilot episode. Male crewmembers wearing the skant were only seen in few episodes, "Encounter at Farpoint", "Haven", "Conspiracy", "Where No One Has Gone Before" and "11001001", though the footage seen in the last episode was re-used from "Where No One Has Gone Before".

The skant was primarily seen in the first season, appearing only four times, worn with black trousers, in the second season episodes "The Child", "The Outrageous Okona", "The Schizoid Man", and "Samaritan Snare". After that its final appearance was in the flashbacks during "All Good Things...".

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A skant? All this time I thought it was a maniskirt. –  Major Stackings Feb 18 '12 at 2:38
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Also keep in mind that men's skirts are common outside of Western culture. –  Brian Ortiz Feb 19 '12 at 1:34
    
The 24th century equivalent of the kilt. –  Caimen Feb 20 '12 at 22:16
    
@Caimen it's too bloody short! –  C. Ross Feb 22 '12 at 17:53
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Don't forget the dress uniforms, they also are very skirt-like. In all likelihood it became fashionable for men to wear skirting tops some time before 2365. So popular that they became available as the "skant"-style uniform and eventually replaced the dress uniform.

Picard and Rikerin skirt-style dress uniforms

The style's popularity waned and the jacket style rose as seen at the end TNG and the Beginning of DS9.

Picard

Although the skirt-style dress uniform was still used when Sisko was promoted to Captain in Season 3. I could not get a full length shot, but the collar is the same. In the youtube clip when Sisko walks back from talking with the Ambassador you can see it flares below the waist with black pants below.

Sisko in dress uniform

Eventually the jacket-style uniform filtered up, replacing the dress uniform standard with that seen in Insurrection

Picard in a jacket-style dress uniform

In short, styles change, especially when you are influenced by thousands of different cultures on thousands of worlds.

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A simple out of universe answer:

Star Trek routinely tackles real life sociological issues in its stories. Racial equality (Lt. Uhura), Sexual equality (Calling female officers Sir, among others), Drug addiction (T'Pol), etc.

The only time in TNG we see male crew members wearing dresses (face it, they're dresses, not "skants") is the first episode, Encounter at Farpoint.

The first episode, often called a pilot episode, is a proposal for a new TV series. They created "Encounter at Farpoint" to demonstrate to the network execs what they wanted to do.

Since we never saw the man-dresses again, the network execs probably said "Sure, we'll do this show, but men in dresses? wtf? no."

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I think I remember them being used in the background in one or two later Season 1 episodes, so while they did get dropped quickly, it wasn't solely something for the pilot episode. –  Izkata Oct 4 '12 at 14:12
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Scotty had a kilt dress uniform. So there is precedent.

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Do you have a reference? –  DVK Dec 20 '12 at 6:54
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Scottys dress uniform kilt is documented on Star Trek Memory Alpha. –  zrajm Jan 24 '13 at 18:18
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