Cargo Pants in Space

I’ve recently ventured into the addictive black hole that is Doctor Who.  (I know, I’m somewhat late to the game.  Hush.)  An episode that I watched recently got me thinking about a pseudo-uniform that is fairly prevalent in the realm of space-related sci-fi tv and film.

Before I tell you about said clothing style, let me tell you about the people who wear it.  You may already have an image in your head before I describe it to you at the end.

There are two important characteristics to the people in this particular clothing.

1. They are not main characters, although there are often elements of this in the costuming of main characters.  No, these are the people who might have a line or two, could get a character name, but might also be set dressing.  They appear for one episode, maybe two, and there is a fairly good chance that if they have a name, they’re going to die.

2. These are the people who are working on non-government ships.  They are the crew on ships of mercenaries, scavengers, edge-of-space drilling units, you get the idea.  You’ll see the look on people in space stations or bases, and also in planetary markets, but those places get a bit more diversity in costuming.  The clothing that I’m thinking of is really most common on the rough-and-ready men and women who venture into the reaches of space for profit.

Do you have an image in mind?  I’m guessing that you do, perhaps from your favorite show.  Honestly, in many cases you can drop someone from one show into another and they wouldn’t look out-of-place.  So what’s the clothing?

Boots, usually mid-calf or higher and typically black.  Cargo pants (baggy for guys, possibly a bit more snug for the women) in brown, occasionally black or khaki, with a belt (and maybe a gun).  Solid-color t-shirts and tanks, fairly close-fitting for both genders.  There are often layers thrown on over the shirt: jackets, vests, maybe even a hoodie.  The entire outfit leans to neutrals or muted colors; there might be a splash of red or yellow, but black, brown, olive and blue are the colors of choice.

Is that what you’d pictured?

There are a couple of benefits to this “uniform” of sorts.  First, if we’re talking about extras, these are items that people might have in their closet at home.  Toss a couple of accessories on and they’re ready to go, no elaborate trip to wardrobe needed.  Second, the look says “work” even if you saw someone in it on the street, giving you that subconscious impression that these are physical people.  Third, well, we’re all used to it by now.  We’d be surprised if we didn’t see that kind of clothing on those kinds of characters.

It is kind of odd to think that so many years in a fictional future, people are still wearing the same type of clothing as today, but the point is to create the image of a specific group and a specific situation, and those items of clothing can establish that context for our minds without a lot of explanation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: