I am generally the type of guy who thinks "because it's a TV show" is a reasonable and complete explanation for unexplainable elements in fictional works. However, given the tendency for Star Trek fans to find intricate explanations for anything that appears on-screen, I'm curious to know if this has been addressed:

Is there an in-universe explanation (or even just an in-universe acknowledgement) of the fact that the various eras of the Star Trek universe parallel the decades of their production in fashion and design? Put another way, why does the Kirk era look so much like the 1960's and 1970's, while the Picard era looks so much like the 1990's? Color palettes, hair styles, fashion design, technological layouts, all conform quite recognizably to the those of the latter half of the 20th century.

Now, obviously the real answer is "because it's a TV show made during that decade," and there is a tradition in the Star Trek universe of cultures randomly developing cultural similarities that may apply, but has anyone ever acknowledged or tried to explain in-universe why different centuries of the Federation seem to echo different decades of prior Earth history?

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    Because it's a TV show made during that decade.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 19:15
  • well a possible topic is that the federation has access to holo rooms in which they are able to interact with parts of history they like best, say for example that whoever is in charge of the new uniform happens to like X period of the history and hangs out their in the holodeck that may influence his uniform dicisions, hair styles as well could be determined on an individual basis based on their personal time period of intrest.
    – Himarm
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 19:15
  • 6
    Ask anyone who works in the fashion industry and you will hear the idea of fashion being cyclical. What was once fashionable will eventually be fashionable again. What is old becomes new, again. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 19:23
  • 1
    @Thaddeus Except for the manskirt uniform seen in TNG episode 1. Like all fashion disasters, it wasn't even stylish in the first place.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 19:29
  • 3
    Star Trek Into Darkness even lampshades the cyclical fashion idea. Star Trek 09 culture seemed relatively "normal" by our standards, but by Into Darkness 1960s fashion has (re)emerged: the long sideburns or muttonchops are obvious, but at one point Scotty goes to a club and he's dressed for disco.
    – user33616
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


While the 60's show was influenced by 60's fashion, the fashion of the 60's was also influenced by the space age!

The so-called "Space Age Fashion" of the 60's took cues from astronaut boots and helmets, the one-piece g-suits worn by astronauts and sci-fi book covers. Heavy use of plastic materials were of course mandatory. In a sense, Star Trek fashion was only two steps removed from real-world space travel. In-universe, you could say that they're simply wearing what people have been wearing in space ever since the Mercury missions.

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Romulan delegation on a charm offensive?

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Food being prepared onboard the Enterprise?

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The bridge of the USS Fashion Statement?

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Switch the floor to teak and you've got the bridge of Star Trek - Into Darkness

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These boots were made for walking. On the moon.

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Drop-outs from Star Fleet Academy?

enter image description here Interior design also had its "space age". This from a 1969 italian magazine.

  • 1
    Mmm. Jenny Agutter.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 10:15

There are a couple of reasonable explanations for this.

Life imitates art

Who is to say for sure whether or not the style of the show was influenced by the current fashion styles, or was it the other way around?

Fashions are somewhat cyclical

Some things go out of style, and then come back again. What the crew on TOS and subsequent series wore wasn't exactly representative of the fashion trends of the time. The fact that their style has similarities is simply a coincidence and nothing more.

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