Guinan dons two hats, if I recall correctly (pictured below). My question is: are these hats something special to El Aurians, something special to 24th century bartenders, or something else? I don't recall ever seeing anyone else wearing either type of hat in TNG (and I've seen it all now!). I've noticed that both hats completely conceal the top of her head, but I don't know if that's significant.

One of Guinan's hats - a rectangular mortarboard, sorta

Another of Guinan's hats - this one's a hexagonal mortarboard covered in a knitted stocking

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    Look at the top picture. It is clearly a homage to the saucer section. May 22, 2014 at 10:28
  • I would strongly recommend firing up your image editor and shrinking the pics 50% or mroe May 22, 2014 at 12:14
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    @DVK: Last time I checked, SFF has wiki-support, so anybody can help others, e.g. by shrinking down pictures.
    – bitmask
    May 22, 2014 at 13:12
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    @bitmask: pot, kettle, black? :) To everyone else, resizing an imgur image is trivially easy: to get the medium size image, append an "m" to the file name, right before the period. To get the small image, append an "s". And if the original picture is very large, you can get a slightly shrunken version by appending an "l" (that's lowercase L, not a numeral 1).
    – Martha
    May 22, 2014 at 14:09
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    @Martha: That's assuming that any of us are even slightly computer-literate. I didn't work out that 'LOL' stood for 'laugh out loud' until well into my twenties, and it took me six months to work out how to post images on any site. I still can't get the damn things to work on this one. May 22, 2014 at 15:31

7 Answers 7


Whoopi Goldberg had/has dreadlocks (quite some quantity) so the hat was to cover them up. Presumably El-Aurian women don't have dreadlocks.

Durinda Rice Wood, Senior TNG Costume Designer has given a convincing "out of universe" reason for Guinan's choice of hats...

*As for Whoopi Goldberg's character Guinan, Rice Wood also explained that she wanted her to look different without her typical dreadlock look and that's the reason Guinan is wearing large hats.

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    Considering her dreadlocks are clearly visible at the back of her neck in all appearances as Guinan (save for the Time's Arrow two-parter), I doubt that's the reasoning.
    – Brian S
    May 22, 2014 at 14:09
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    I should have mentioned that this is given as a reason in one of the special features on the TNG DVD's (or it could be one of the movies).
    – Jaydee
    May 22, 2014 at 14:19
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    Here is a link to Memory Alpha, where this is given as a reason by the Costume designer en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Durinda_Rice_Wood
    – Jaydee
    May 22, 2014 at 14:23
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    I'm just passing on the reason given by the costume designer. See my comment above.
    – Jaydee
    May 22, 2014 at 14:42
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    Sounds like they wanted Guinan to look different from Whoopi, not that El-Aurians can't/don't have dreadlocks
    – Brian S
    May 22, 2014 at 15:16

We have seen a few other El-Aurians, most prominently Soran:

Soran doesn't wear a hat

Also, we have seen another male El-Aurian: Martus Mazur.

Martus Mazur without hat

Also from Generations, when we meet the lovely Mr. Soran, we also see a lot of Guinan's people in one of their space stations. Female El-Aurians sometimes wear hats:

Unnamed El-Aurian with hat

And sometimes do not:

Unnamed El-Aurian without hat

And the hat of the first one is quite different from Guinan's. Since Guinan seems to wear civilian clothing (not a starfleet uniform), it stands to reason the hats are just her personal taste.

  • With regard to the OP's "something special to 24th century bartenders," a picture of Quark on DS9 (and Nog in the alternate universe DS9) would be good.
    – Brian S
    May 22, 2014 at 14:07
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    The unnamed El-Aurians were actually seen on Enterprise B, not a space station.
    – Xantec
    May 22, 2014 at 14:11
  • @Xantec: They were seen on the Enterprise B, yes. But they came from the space station that was hit by the Nexus IIRC.
    – bitmask
    May 22, 2014 at 16:36
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    They were actually two El-Aurian refugee ships.
    – Xantec
    May 22, 2014 at 16:51
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    @ChrisB.Behrens Well I liked it. Jan 7, 2016 at 7:53

If you ignore the colors and texture of Guinan's costume it becomes obvious that what she is wearing is a slightly updated nun's cornette and habit.

nun guinan

Given her ever-placid demeanor and role as confidante to several characters her costume is a visual cue to the audience that cannot be accidental.

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    Ehm, you mean a subliminal clue that the audience should go watch Sister Act?
    – Mr Lister
    May 22, 2014 at 18:47
  • :) Curiously enough, the Sister Act films were well after Guinan first appeared on TNG. Otherwise, I doubt Goldberg would have donned the habit again as Guinan.
    – Kyle Jones
    May 22, 2014 at 18:56
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    @BrianMinton I think the wimple is the unstarched piece underneath that covers the hair. The stiff piece on top of that is the cornette.
    – Kyle Jones
    Jan 5, 2015 at 19:21
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    "That cannot be accidental"? That's a little strong for what is at best a theory. Oct 17, 2015 at 5:39
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    The only thing that's obvious is that this is complete conjecture.
    – Mazura
    Jul 19, 2016 at 5:57

Guinan's hats durign the TV series are most likely her own style, since as you pointed out we never see anyone else wearing ones like them.

However, when we first see Guinan in the movie Generations she is wearing a hat very similar to the ones donned by most of the other hat-wearing El-Aurians seen on the Enterprise B (as shown in bitmask's answer).

Guinan in Generations

Why she, or any of the other El-Aurians, wore hats was likely just as a stylish means to keep her hair out of the way, especially while working in Ten Forward. You probably wouldn't be too pleased if your bartender's hair fell in your synthehol or ice cream sundae.

  • Hair would probably make that body synthetic alcohol taste better! Oct 17, 2015 at 5:40

Not sure if Star Trek Online is considered canon on the Stack Exchange, but Nelan on Earth Spacedock is another El-Aurian bartender and he wears practically the same costume, hat and all. He's also a male, meaning that the outfit is most likely unisex. Maybe it's some kind of "bartender uniform" in El-Aurian culture?


I think several of these answers are valid, I also suspect that aside from practical issues with the hats, the costume designer drew on South African Zulu head dresses called Isicholo.

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    Could you elaborate?
    – Adamant
    Jul 19, 2016 at 5:44
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    I'm sold. But IMO you'd have to ask Wood or Goldberg for a definitive answer. This is "obvious" what it is, much more so than a "nun's cornette and habit."
    – Mazura
    Jul 19, 2016 at 5:54

Guinan stole her hat design from these aliens:

enter image description here

After she saw them, she asked the computer to replicate them, but with a much larger brim.

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