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Magdalene Visaggio @MagsVisaggs
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Okay here's some hard-core trek nerd stuff.

I think *way too much* about Starfleet uniforms, and I want to propose a way to fit the DSC uniforms into trek canon in a way that makes narrative sense.
(yes I am aware this violates my principle of accepting everything on its own terms but fuck it here we go)
Okay, so let's start with Enterprise, the *first* Starfleet uniform. These uniforms feature blue jumpsuits with divisional-color accents; notably, they feature the Gold-command structure. These uniforms had a good run of about 20 years, from the 2140s-2160's.
The next uniform, seen in ST: Beyond, runs from the 2160's and is gone by the 2230s, although its hard to say how long it lasted. It's clearly a natural evolution of the ENT uniform; divisional accents on a solid-color base.
Importantly, it retains the SAME divisional color scheme. This is going to matter.
By the 2230s, though, we get a maaaajor shift. The divisional color DOMINATES the uniform, and the scheme is completely different; command wears a grayish-teal, for example. Assignment patches are largely replaced by a uniform Starfleet delta. We get maybe a decade out of this,
The way I see it, this uniform was *not popular*; it's a complete reinvention of the previous uniform, is form-fitting and not especially flattering. It reinvents the wheel in a super-disruptive way, leading us to...
...THIS beautiful uniform! Fuck this thing is pretty. It's the 2140s, and Starfleet responds to the dissatisfaction with a deliberate throwback to classic Starfleet blue, echoing its earliest days. The weird divisional color scheme is replaced with something simple:
Command gets gold back, but they go with a metallic metaphor. Silver for sciences, bronze for support services. It's elegant! And they move the pipping from from the breast to the insignia itself (a weird choice that's hard to see).
Things start to get weird, though; it's clear Starfleet is interested in single-color tunic uniforms, and makes another go at them, first with drab muted colors that attempt to replicate the gold-silver-bronze scheme, and then in a full-throated embrace of the classic iteration.
Thats part of what I love about the DSC uniforms: they *make sense* of the uniforms we saw in The Cage, with their muted bronze support services.
But you really get the sense that Starfleet personnel hate walking around in color-coded t-shirts, because those uniforms only last MAYBE another decade into the 2270s, when Starfleet uniforms become full-on fucking color-coded jumpsuits.
basically, Starfleet heard "we hate bright tee-shirts" and said "okay, how about everyone wears different shades of beige? You fuckers happy now?"
The answer, clearly, was no, and Starfleet finds a new solution, the most enduring, powerful, and iconic uniform of them all: the scarlet tunic. This fucker lasts for EIGHTY YEARS, with variations along the way (turtleneck vs crew neck, belt vs no belt).
It's glorious. It's official. It feels dignified and appropriate. And it gives Starfleet an opportunity to use more muted, subtle divisional color tones while uniting the whole fleet in a new look that's almost goddamn regal. People clearly loved it.
Buuuuut times change, and by the 2260s, Starfleet had decided to return to bright, classic colors that recalled an earlier age. But, since red had become *the* color of Starfleet, red became the new command color, and gold got demoted.
With variations, this uniform, however, would last barely a decade; again, it is very clear starfleet officers hate walking around draped in bright colors. It was quickly replaced. First, the B-variant became standard issue (see Voyager)...
...before finally being fully replaced by a uniform that combined the best of the classic scarlet (the uniform and textured look) with the overall feel of the B-variant: the yoke-over-black. We dont know how long this lasted, but STO implies it went on for like 30 years.
All of this is to say that the DSC uniform *can* fit *relatively* comfortably in the legacy of trek uniforms, a deliberate throwback style that still reaches forward, which is something Starfleet loves doing. It's just bad at finding looks that click!
BASICALLY the uniform only stands out as an outlier if you utterly divorce it from the entire history of Starfleet uniforms.
BTW, this uniform FUCKING. RULES.
Okay. Let's talk THE CAGE, because I am getting sick of addressing it individually.
First, The Cage might actually be the worst episode of Star Trek ever made and it's hard to square with canon in a few different ways. But people keep bringing up that the cage is 2254 and DSC is 2256 as if this is a problem.

It isn't.
Let's start with real-world stuff: the US Army announced a new uniform in 2006, *as optional wear* during a phase-in period. This uniform was not even *issued* to new soldiers until 2010, and wasn't service-wide until 2015. That's NINE YEARS of overlap between blue and green.
We see similar processes in militaries all over the world; when you have hundreds of thousands of servicepeople, you dont flip a switch on uniforms. I imagine with Starfleet, we're looking at shorter overlap periods, but they'll definitely still *exist*.
We've even *seen* uniform overlap periods on Star Trek, particularly on TNG, where season 1 and season 3 uniforms run concurrently, and Generations and DS9, where we see TNG and DS9 uniforms used side by side.
ADDITIONALLY let's talk about the use of the Starfleet Delta.

The practice in TOS and TMP is every ship had its own symbol. But we see the delta as universal both *before* TOS and *after* it.
This is the 2160s-era uniform of the USS Franklin. Notice the starfleet delta on their lapel. We also see the universality of the symbol on DSC, and its implied when we see that symbol on the crew of the USS Kelvin.
So there are *two eras* during which individual ship patches exist: From the foundation of Earth Starfleet into at least the 2160's, but over by the 2230s, and during the mid-2260s but over by the early 2280s, when they adopt this symbol fleet-wide
ADDITIONALLY, the symbol for all of starfleet pre-federation (ENT era) is CLEARLY a precursor of the delta.
I trust this should settle the matter.
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