For DS9, they switched to the much less pajamic uniform style.

TNG style: colorful body, collar, black shoulders, no undershirt.


DS9 style: black body, colored shoulders, grayish undershirt.

Those uniforms were used in Voyager.

Eventually, everyone converts to this:

black body, gray shoulders, colored undershirt

Now, in the first DS9 episode, Sisko, O'Brien, Dax and Bashir are all shown in the TNG style uniform before they settle on DS9 and have chance to change uniforms.

So was the intent that they wear the less formal uniforms on DS9 because -- why -- because it's not a ship? because it's the frontier? because it's not Federation space?

This is confounded since they then go with the new uniforms for Voyager as well as the Enterprise-D in Star Trek: Generations, which seems to be as odds with the DS9/TNG schism.

So what exactly was supposed to be going on in-universe at the time with the uniforms?

  • 3
    Out of universe is easy. After the First Contact film, they had lots of extra uniforms and Borg props. They gave the new uniforms to the DS9 production crew and transferred the borg props and DS9 uniforms to the Voyager production team.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:25
  • "So was the intent that they wear the less formal uniforms on DS9 because -- why -- because it's not a ship?" This wouldn't be the answer, because in Star Trek: Generations the crew of the Enterprise-D wear the DS9-style jumpsuits, even prior to Voyager.
    – Praxis
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:33
  • @Praxis: That's basically the same as Voyager taking on the new uniforms. Thanks for pointing it out. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:35

5 Answers 5


Allowance for informal, comfortable clothing while on duty.

I believe answer has to do with formality versus informality and comfort.

As far as four seasons into DS9, we see the TNG-style duty uniforms still being used. They appear in the episode "Homefront". When Sisko returns to Earth to meet Admiral Leyton, Admiral Leyton wears the TNG-style admiral's uniform and his aide wears the TNG-style duty uniform:

enter image description here

In the background we can see other officers in the TNG-style uniform. In particular, Sisko changes back into a TNG-style uniform for his meeting with Leyton.

We have already ruled out that the DS9-style jumpsuits were intended for use exclusively on space stations, given that they are used on the Enterprise-D in Generations and on Voyager. Since officers based at Starfleet Command are still wearing the older uniforms in the fourth season of DS9, and since Sisko made the point of changing into them for his visit to Starfleet Command, the suggestion is that the TNG-era uniforms are more formal.

In turn, this suggests that officers on starships and Starfleet installations were offered the jumpsuit as an alternative to the TNG-era uniforms, perhaps for comfort while working. Consistent with this, the "Homefront" example shows that the jumpsuits might not be deemed as suitable for official business as the TNG-era uniforms.

So in the years leading up to the fleet-wide shift to the grey-topped First Contact-period uniforms, the TNG and the DS9-style uniforms were in use concurrently, with context dictating which was more appropriate.

This screenshot from the Enterprise bridge in Generations shows both in use at the same time:

enter image description here

Most telling is that Riker begins the film in a TNG-style uniform, but when things begin to heat up, he changes into a DS9 jumpsuit. Comfort is important when you're about the crash the saucer section into a planet!

  • 6
    excellent find on "Homefront". Then the corollary is, Why did the Enterpise-D switch? Picard seems the kind of guy that prefers the formality. Okay, may be except for Troi. And himself with that jacket thing. Okay, I take it back. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:55
  • @ThePopMachine : I was just adding a little more info about the Enterprise, actually. :-)
    – Praxis
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:57
  • 1
    Now that screencap is just weird. Four new, four old. Were they trying to make a smooth transition for the audience or something? Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 16:00
  • I wonder whether some reference to real-world uniform usage precedent would be a good addition? Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 17:57
  • 1
    @ThePopMachine There is somewhere on another question/answer, someone said it may have been an attempt to mimic real-life uniform changes, where they're only replaced slowly over years instead of all at once. But also that it doesn't exactly make sense thanks to the replicator
    – Izkata
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 0:34

To put into modern context, even the Navies around the world have multiple "duty" uniforms and some are more formal than other or flat out dress uniforms.

For instance, when on duty at headquarters battalion administration and security will be in dress uniforms while general troops are wearing camoflauge utilities or blouse & slacks. This extends even to on ship where Utilities generally become the "formal" and coveralls become the "utilities".

Then there is such a thing as "Uniform of the Day" where the CO has near-absolute jurisdiction over what his command wears at any given time so long as it is not in violation of the established clothing code.

I doubt there was that much though put into it in Star Trek, but it doesn't seem too odd in context with modern times. As far as the grey shoulder uniform goes, it was likely a more subtle way of making every one similar in war time (Dominion) while still keeping the occupational specialty segregation.


Non-Canon answer (its based on evidence from Star Trek Online)

In the 2410s, Starfleet had a policy where captains and other commanding officers had discretion over their personal and crew uniforms, departing from a standard. The new "Oddysey" style uniform was adopted for all general staff and those crews who had not opted for a custom uniform


Stardate 87003.8

FROM: Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn

Starfleet Command

TO: All Starship and Station Commanders


This memorandum is to inform you of updates to the Starfleet Uniform Code Subsection 1 effective Stardate 87003.

As the political realities throughout Federation space continue to shift, Starfleet must remain a force for consistency and stability. To that end, the admiralty is enacting a fleet-wide update and standardization of the Starfleet duty uniform. Starfleet has officially and totally adopted the uniform designated “Odyssey”, which has already seen initial deployment by personnel on Earth Spacedock in Sector 001 and in several fleet command starbases across the quadrant.

The Odyssey uniform design provides a solid link to Starfleet’s heritage while establishing a bold direction for its future. Attached to this message are replicator patterns for the Odyssey uniform. We have authorized all starship and station commanders to begin replication and distribution of this uniform among their crews effective immediately. Please also see the attached uniform specifications on appropriate accessories, coloration and wear.

NOTE: Subsection 2, Paragraph 1 of the Starfleet Uniform Code remains in effect; Starship captains continue to have discretion as to their personal uniform and the uniforms of their bridge crew.

In service,

Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn

Starfleet Command, Earth Spacedock


It is possible that this policy existed in a similar fashion back in the DS9 Era, and Sisko was given leeway to select station uniforms to his liking and to fit the needs of the base. In this case, Terok Nor was an inustrial mining platform that had been stripped and sabotaged by the Cardassians. There was a LOT of dirty grubby work to do. To this end he may have selected the workman's jumpsuit style uniform out of prudence to the work needing doing.

When Starfleet released the grey First Contact style uniform later on, Sisko likely decided that the need for the rugged jumpsuit variation had passed, and opted for the more militarized look to meet the needs of the growing conflict with the Dominion.

Other evidence to show this trend was the moderate continued use of the skintight uniform on TNG well into the general use of the Starfleet Duty Uniform used in the latter half of TNG, along with various scientific outposts using slightly modified uniforms through all series. Seen here for training, excursion, flight suit, B'elanna Torres's work jacket, as well as personal modifications such as Worf's Sash, Bajoran Earrings, Maternity alterations, Combat uniforms, MACO gear, etc.

  • 4
    I find it hard to see how a non-canon memorandum from something like 40 (!) years in the future informs us much about DS9. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 16:43
  • shows a continued pattern, but I informed at the beginning its not a show/movie canon answer. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 17:00
  • 3
    Fanfic is fun, but it's not really that useful when the OP is asking for an in-universe answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 18:23

Out of universe answer DS9 was set in a grittier shades of gray setting, so the black uniform symbolized the darker theme of the show.

My experience is there is a duty uniform i.e. BDU's, which is normally worn. Depending on your specific job you could wear blues; blue pants, with a light blue shirt, a tie is optional. I the medical field the wear of scrubs was allowed. The unit commander could designate which uniform was to be worn normally, and could specify that a certain uniform to be worn on a specific day. Blues day, or BDU day.


The DS9 uniforms seen in the first five seasons were originally conceived to be exclusive for space station crew members. You can see that reflected on the show itself when Starfleet guest stars from either ships or HQ only wore TNG style uniforms, and when Sisko visited HQ he would wear TNG uniform.

For various production reasons, it was decided that GENERATIONS and VOYAGER would feature DS9 uniforms, despite conflicting with the original premise of those uniforms. Apparently that decision was made because the DS9 costumes were much more comfortable for actors to wear than the more cumbersome TNG costumes. If production wanted to more consistent about the depiction of TNG/DS9 uniforms, they would have had GENERATIONS and VOYAGER strictly wear the TNG uniforms while DS9 would keep theirs.

  • Do you have a source for this?
    – amflare
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 4:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.