One of the most terrifying parts of any science fiction movie or TV show are the inevitable Future Jumpsuits that everyone seems to wear because somehow every aspect of civilization has advanced except clothing technology. Whether you’re in Battlestar Galactica’s space fatigues, Star Trek’s onesie uniforms, or whatever the hell you call that crap Jean-Paul Gaultier forced upon the hapless actors in The Fifth Element, it still boils down to one thing: The many moods of the jumpsuit. Below, we explore four of the most popular jumpsuits in science fiction for your sartorial edification.
Seen in BSG, Farscape, Starship Troopers (below), and pretty much anywhere you’ve got a military-style group zooming around in space. Usually featuring an insignia with a swooshy ship or stars, lots of zippers, and maybe some kind of ammo belt, space fatigues get one crucial thing wrong. In the future, presumably we’ll have decent-enough nanotech armor that military types can wear ultra-lightweight clothing that looks like whatever they want and it will still be blaster-proof, and capable of hardening into splints when needed. Plus, zippers in the future? Really? Space fatigues do, of course, have their dressier sides. You can always wear your dress uniform with the gold braid.
The Unisex Onesie
Why do all futuristic space-faring people have these frakkin onesies? It’s partly Star Trek’s fault, with their awful polyester uniforms. But something about space just makes people think “boxy onesie.” Even in the 1980s Buck Rogers (right), which was all about making space sexier, they still had the onsies, albeit in ultratight white and sometimes shiny colors. Plus, they all had these great rainbow armbands to go with their onesies, to make it seem as if in the future gay people would rule the world but no longer shop at The Gap. A subset of the unisex onesie is also the Facist Identity-Erasure Onesie, which you see in THX-1138.
The Holy Crap What the Hell Uniform
The “holy crap what the hell” outfits of Sci-Fi Channel’s Dune miniseries and the movie The Fifth Element are a handy way to get at what this style is really all about. Basically, in the future we won’t wear onesies (thankfully) but instead we’ll have wrapped ourselves in gauze tape to cover just the naughty bits — or for some reason we will wear really tall strange hats. Dune, at least in the Sci-Fi imagining of it, is basically a future where strange headgear have taken over. And don’t even get me started on Sting’s outfit in David Lynch’s Dune movie. It really makes you appreciate the versatility of the phrase “holy crap what the hell?!”
I’m glad that the styles pioneered by rock band Gwar have survived into the future, alternate dimensions, and every other nook and cranny of the science fiction universe. For some reason, when people aren’t doing what-the-crap with their outfits, or squirming into an impossibly tight onesie, they’re dressed in leathers and crazy giant boots. With capes, too, sometimes. The Klingons do it; the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon do it; why shouldn’t the entire future of
civilization do it too? I should point out that there are a couple of Gwar fashion corollaries. There is the Nine Inch Nails look, shown off in Farscape quite a bit, as well as inside the Matrix. Then there is the Hippie Shift look, which you see a lot in Star Wars and incidentally also in the Matrix when people are outside the Matrix’s Nine Inch Nails sartorial zone. In fact, who could forget the shocking displays of Hippie Shifts during the rave scene in Matrix: Reloaded? You cannot wash your eyes out with soap and make the memory go away.
Update, 10:49 a.m., May 6, 2020: This post has been updated to remove a video that is no longer available.