In-universe that is. Out-of-universe explanation may just be that it sticks out against the black Vader / backgrounds.

White strikes me as an especially poor choice of colour for uniforms. Except for snow, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Is it because, like the British redcoats, they engaged in a lot of melee combat where it was important to easily see your friendlies in chaos? Was white an important part of Empire symbolism?

  • 3
    Nothing to back this up, so I won't post it as an answer, but I would say it's also possible that stark white was chosen for psychological reasons. a) white is clean, is pure, the Empire is trying to paint themselves as the good guys b) white is stark, it is bold, it says "we are invincible, we don't care about hiding, because no one can beat us" (nevermind they can't hit the broadside of a bantha ;) ). I think the same psychological warfare mentality can be seen also in the shock troopers of Hunger Games, and the police (human and robot) of the new Total Recall.
    – eidylon
    Mar 6, 2014 at 8:43
  • I also don't have the sources for this, but once I read somewhere that they don't wear camouflage because they expressly wish to be seen, to imply that they don't need to hide from any enemy.
    – zovits
    Mar 6, 2014 at 21:19
  • 1
    They are virgins! Nov 4, 2014 at 17:51

4 Answers 4


Short answer is that it isn't always white. We do see in episodes I, II and III that other colors were used to better blend with other environments.

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However, white was the primary color as listed at Wookieepedia.

"having acquired its color from the austere tastes of its Kaminoan creators"

Wookieepedia - Stormtrooper armor

Additionally on the Stormtrooper Wookieepedia site, the White armor signified unit solidarity and became a distinguishing signature characteristic. As it was illegal for anyone other than a Stormtrooper to own the white armor it became indelibly linked as the armed face of the Empire.

Wookieepedia Stormtrooper

However, I would suspect, while not specifically stated, it is likely that white as a color would also be the most likely to resist blaster/laser fire by being the most reflective. Hence, could be a good default color choice particular in an interior ship environment.

In episodes IV, V & VI we see pretty much just white. We see them on ships, a very hot desert planet (again white might provide a cooler alternative) and snow. Definitely what could be considered "white" advantage situations. However, outside those situations any additional possible benefit of reflective capability would be offset by the non-camoflauge capability. Too, whether it violated the "austere tastes of its Kaminoan creators" if that lack of "blending in" was getting Stormtroopers killed, even the Empire would need to rethink things :-)

Again per Wookieepedia:

"Stormtroopers sometimes wore camouflage armor to help them blend in with different environments. The Stormtrooper corps instituted this reform after the embarrassing defeat at the Battle of Endor."

Hence, for episodes IV, V, & VI, we might consider "white only" version as an anomaly. After getting clobbered in VI, we can see that restriction was discarded in favor of the most optimum color armor for the job.

  • Yes clone troopers used colours, but this raises a second question: why did they lose those colours? At least the clone troopers used colour to variously identify rank and unit. Was that purpose no longer required or were there other overriding reasons for going white-only? Mar 6, 2014 at 3:36
  • As noted on Wookipedia, the influence of the armor creators appeared to be the driving force i.e. the Kaminoans. From the Stormtrooper wookipedia site, the white armor also became a way to uniquely identify them. I.e. "With few exceptions, they were distinguished from all other military units by their signature white armor." The rank insignia changed when the armor went to white. Rank became simply indicated with colored pauldrons.
    – beichst
    Mar 6, 2014 at 3:44
  • Some of your questions about the discontinuation are addressed here
    – phantom42
    Mar 6, 2014 at 4:05
  • Doesn't it also have to do with the durasteel that the armor itself is made from?
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 11, 2015 at 16:29
  • I think the key point that this answer misses is that since the Republic became the Empire, the stormtoopers are used largely for intimidation. They're supposed to stand out. When they show up, they want people to know it. The only thing this doesn't explain is why the legion on Endor, waiting in secret to set up an ambush are wearing all white.
    – KSmarts
    Feb 11, 2015 at 19:25

These are great answers in-universe.

However, one can argue that it comes down to cinematic visual cues.

What's a good bad guy army? Intimidating and inhuman.

If you look at the armor, it's basically a futuristic, stylized walking skeleton. Even the face of the armor is a lamenting skull. A very simple, yet effective idea.

Film as a visual medium, benefits from showing as much of its content in as little dialogue as possible. Stormtroopers needed to give the impression of intimidating, inhuman killing machines at first sight.

It's hard to argue that encasing your big bad's legions in armor shaped like naked Grim Reapers and giving them guns that shoot blood-red fire bolts was not so they could be frightening.

Might not have been a good choice for real-life application, but it got the message out to the audience.

  • 3
    That's the Out-of-universe explanation that is basically already mentioned in the question. The question explicitly asks for In-universe explanations. Sep 22, 2014 at 9:15
  • I'm not sure was a universe when the Stormtroopers were first designed.
    – Dominique
    Oct 13, 2014 at 23:03

I think it is a number of answers mainly to do with the fact that white represents the fact that they are mindless drones and the whole good bad guy thing i think is to do with the second world war as that is what hitler was doing and he had some soldiers called stormtroopers.

  • 6
    Welcome to the site. The 'I think's are red flags that your answer as currently written just expresses an opinion. Can you provide any references to cannon material that would back it up ?
    – Stan
    Nov 4, 2014 at 13:04
  • 1
    Stormtroopers are actually from WWI, not WWII. Hitler had the Sturmabteilung, but the SA wasn't really a military unit.
    – Null
    Nov 4, 2014 at 15:08

The reason why Stormtroopers cannot have customized armor is because, during the old republic it was a tradition to have markings and symbols which Palpatine banned at the start of the Galactic Empire. He wanted Stormtroopers to look more sophisticated and more professional, instead of having them have there own designs.

  • 1
    This is a pretty good start, but where did you get this info? It would be great if you added a source so we could all learn more. Mar 29, 2015 at 19:17

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