T’Pol Fashion Project

34. Funeral (A Night in Sickbay)
33-32. Vulcan Robes (Broken Bow, Precious Cargo,Cease Fire, Terra Prime )

The funeral (34) is a vision/dream sequence that lasts about 4 seconds and has nothing to do with anything. It’s included because it’s clearly a different outfit and because I like to imagine T’Pol as part of the Addams Family based on that screencap. 

Vulcan robes are a tricky situation. 

Vulcans dress like Han dynasty Chinese. Or, if you prefer, in Japanese kimono. (Except that Japanese kimono are derived from Han dynasty clothing, thus confirming my mother’s assertion that everything, including Japan and Star Trek, was invented by the Chinese.) This influence was not so pronounced in the older incarnations of Trek, particularly in TOS and TNG, where Vulcans wore what looked like pajamas decorated with gigantic rhinestones. But it’s definitely noticeable in the Enterprise series, as well as in First Contact. (source)

It’s the last part that really troubles me – why have Vulcan costumes come to more resemble Earth Asian cultures? Good costuming is a kind of shorthand – giving visual cues to enhance characterization. But the reverse is also true. Vulcans are canonically established to be cold, calculating, logical, emotionless – and alien. Dressing them in Japanese-influenced costumes uses Japanese stereotypes to describe Vulcans and to simultaneously other the Japanese. Bad all around. So while I appreciate the design aesthetic of these costumes, and that T’Pol’s aversion to bulk or layers and affection for bright colors in contrast to these ‘norms’ paints her as a rebel,  I don’t like what T’Pol’s Vulcan robes say about the humans who designed them in our century. 

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