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Behind the seams of my Star Trek captain's costume

Delve into the anatomy of a Star Trek costume as CNET contributor Amanda Kooser preps for a coming convention in full Captain Kirk style.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
3 min read
Amanda Kooser/CNET

After spending my childhood dreaming of joining Starfleet and my adulthood of roaming the universe with Captains Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Sisko and Archer, I finally got command of my own ship.

I now have an original-series captain's uniform. It's part replica, part cosplay, and I feel like I could roam the halls of the Enterprise when I'm wearing it.

Instead, I'll be prowling the Star Trek 50th anniversary convention in Las Vegas this week for CNET, just the nudge I needed to finally complete my costume. This is the story of how it all came together.

I chose to go with my first love, the original series. As much as I identified with Spock, my younger self stepped forward and told adult me: "You need to be the captain of a Constitution-class starship." So I based my costume on Captain Kirk.

All through middle school, I wore an original-series Star Trek movie insignia on my jacket. The one with the bar behind it and a circle around the Starfleet logo. It was an everyday testament to my fandom. These days, I might wear something subtle, like a Star Trek T-shirt or an IDIC necklace. But when I go to the convention, I'll be decked out and ready for duty in command gold.


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The prize feature of my costume is a Captain Kirk tunic from costume maker Anovos. The shirt is copied from patterns and materials from a screen-used Spock tunic. It's meant to be an exact replica of the shirt William Shatner wore (Spock's tunic had the same design pattern as Kirk's) and I can personally find no flaws with it. A man's size small fits me perfectly. I shimmy into it, close the shoulder zipper and transform into a Starfleet captain, fulfilling a long-held dream. But don't call me Captain Kirk. I'm Captain Kooser.

I am no sewing savant, so I turned to my Star Trek-loving sister-in-law Odessa Winter for help shaping up my outfit. My shirt might be an exact replica, but everything else in the costume is just an approximation. My pants are a $30 pair of " Briggs New York Women's Superstretch Pull on Kick Flare Pant" from Amazon. Odessa helped to take up the cuffs and sew them into place at the proper height. These pants have a bonus non-canon feature: pockets!

Odessa also took on the more challenging task of reworking an inexpensive avocado-green Captain Kirk V-neck wrap shirt bought on eBay. She took in the arms and tucked the sides. She also repaired the insignia that sits on the belly, as the gold had rubbed off after one wearing. Did I mention the shirt was cheap? There was too little time before the convention to fully fix the rank braiding on the arms, so I'm demoted to lieutenant when I wear it.

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The Kirk wrap shirt in the midst of alterations.

Amanda Kooser/CNET

Classic Trek boots typically have a chunky heel, something that does not agree with my foot anatomy. Rather than going screen-accurate, I went with a pair of Vivobarefoot boots. They're tall. They're black. They're shiny. They have an absolutely flat sole. Close enough, said my feet.

I first wore a full uniform in public to the opening night of the reboot movie " Star Trek Beyond." As I walked from my house to meet up with my brother (dressed as Kirk) and sister-in-law (dressed as Jaylah), a lot of memories swirled.

What emerged was me, somewhere around the age of 10, sitting on the floor in front of a small television, eyes wide and taking in every moment of a "Star Trek" rerun. I know it's a fictional world, but when I wear my uniform, I'm a member of Starfleet. I wish I could have told younger me that, yes, one day I would make captain.

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