What Bothered William Shatner About His Star Trek Costume

While William Shatner certainly has a plethora of magnificent memories from his days on the original Star Trek series, one in particular involving one of Captain James T. Kirk’s iconic uniforms left him feeling less than commanding at times. Recently, Shatner revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that the tightness of standard issue Starfleet command attire made his daily lunches a bit of a constricting chore.

At Thursday's Comic-Con panel for the upcoming Star Trek character-inspired book, The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, Shatner showed up to support the upcoming fictional memoir by David A. Goodman. There, the actor fielded fan questions, including one that drew out a rather interesting opinion regarding Kirk’s alternate uniform on the 1966-1969 television series in the green tunic. Apparently, Shatner was not a fan of this quasi-futuristic fashion statement, as it often left him wrapped up too tightly. According to Shatner:

It was a little embarrassing after lunch to have that tight green thing on you…the more drape, the better.

The concept of “drape” seemed to be the aesthetic when it came to the pastel-colored pseudo-sailor-shirts the original series crew used as uniforms. However, there are a handful of the show’s 79 episodes in which Shatner’s Kirk showed up to the bridge wearing an over-wrapped olive drab tunic that displayed his rank insignia on his shoulders, which were later moved to the edge of his sleeves. While his default yellow shirt was also worn by other Enterprise officers including Sulu and Chekov, the green tunic that Kirk would occasionally bust out was the original series’ only distinctive style identifying him for command. Yet, for Shatner, it seems that such an ostentatious statement came at rather discomforting price.

Besides the practical inconveniences, there was clearly an element of embarrassment from walking around the studio lot wearing something that one might guess to be the Easter Bunny’s karate gi. This is especially true considering that it was a time when westerns still dominated and science fiction was generally ostracized. Yet, that is not to say that Shatner was completely poo-pooing that green space cardigan, as he also gives props to the hard work that the show’s costume designer, Bill Theiss put into the various outfits. As Shatner continues:

With the limited budget we had… I was very proud indeed.

Of course the legacy of the draped shirt uniforms Shatner seems to espouse that the original series crew modeled would be continued in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot film and its 2013 sequel. While next to nothing is known about what the crew will be wearing in next year’s follow-up, presumably titled, Star Trek Beyond, there is a distinct possibility that, in a nod to the original series, the green tunic that apparently ruined Shatner’s lunches on the set of the show could make its return in update form on current cinematic Captain Kirk, Chris Pine.

In the meantime, the television front of the Star Trek continuity continues to resonate with rumblings of rumors indicating that something is in the works. While this has manifested in attempts by former Star Trek actors and, in one case a notable fan, to get their projects greenlit, the signs are there that the return of the mythos in which a crew will “boldly go” is inevitable--the possibility of garish green gear, aside.