Introduction: Easy Star Trek "Red Shirt" Costume

About: Ordinary guy with no special skills, just trying to change the world one backyard invention at a time. See more at: On Twitter - @300MPGBen and at

Waited until the last-minute to work on your costume for that Halloween Party?
No problem! Go as a Star Trek "Red Shirt" - the nameless security officer who always got killed on the TV show whenever they beamed down to a planet.

With these instructions, your home computer and printer, a few typical craft items and tools, and the clothes you already have in your closet, you can be a "Red Shirt" in no time flat!

Let's get started with a quick costume study and some clothing selection.

Step 1: Raid Your Closet - Red Shirt & Black Pants

First thing to do, go on the web and search images for "Star Trek Uniform". You will see a number of different versions of Star Trek outfits. Use that to get a sense of the basics for what you need for your Star Fleet uniform.

You do NOT have to go for perfect detail with this costume. Star Trek is a part of the culture in the U.S., and even people who aren't huge fans will "get it".

Besides the original STAR TREK television program, there was also "The Next Generation" (TNG) and several other spin-offs. While the costuming was a bit different from one show to another, as long as you stick to a few iconic articles, you will be sure to nail this costume.

The Basics:
A Red Shirt
Black Pants
Black Shoes or Boots

Red Shirt

Your shirt should be RED. Long-sleeved is preferred, but a short-sleeve shirt will work if that's all you have in your closet. Since you made a "Tap-Light Iron Man" Costume a couple years ago, I'm sure you already have a thrift store red shirt handy. I had a plain red short-sleeved cotton T-shirt. I really wanted long-sleeve, especially for being outside this time of year. I did have a long-sleeved black shirt, so I layered the red shirt over the black. The Next Generation uniforms were two-tone red and black, so I tried matching the rest of the outfit towards that style.

Black Pants
This costume just needs some plain black pants. If you are going for the Original Series look, try to find some with a bit of a flair, bell-bottom, or boot-cut to them. For the Next Generation look, dress slacks are perfect. Avoid cargo pants or black jeans.

Black Shoes / Boots
Go for simple on the footware. A plain black boot is ideal for the Original Series, and a plain black dress shoe is good for The Next Generation. I chose some slip-on black leather shoes that I already owned.

We'll need an insignia badge. Let's cover that in detail in the next step.

Step 2: Insignia Badge

A key part of the costume is the logo on the chest of the uniform.

I'll quickly cover two different ways to make the insignia or communicator pin. One is to simply print it out on your color computer printer. For the advanced version, if you happen to have access to a 3D printer, you can 3D-print up your own NextGen Communicator Pin.

Quick and Easy 2D Version:
Download an iconic Star Trek logo (or draw your own!) Google image search works well. You might want to specify "on white" as part of the search. That way there will be no background. ( For your convenience, I made a 8.5"x11" sheet of badges that you can print out. )

Print the logo on paper. It may NOT have been the size you expected. Use your favorite graphics program to scale the image to its real-world size. That should be about 2 inches tall for the Next Generation communicator badge, and about 2.5" tall for the Original Series insignia. Size doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be roughly the appropriate size.

Once you have it scaled and did a test print, duplicate it once or twice, and print it out on tagboard or card-stock. By having more than one copy printed, you have a spare in case you don't do the best job cutting it out.

Cut out the logo.

Attach a fastener. You could hot-glue a safety pin to the back, glue on a magnet, or even just roll up a bit of tape.

Stick it to your red shirt.

3D Version:
If you happen to have access to a 3D printer, you can make the "advanced version"!

Go to Thingiverse and download the Communicator Badge. (

Print it on your 3D printer.

Spray paint the whole thing gold.

Hand-paint the swoosh silver.

Glue a safety pin to the back, or drill a hole and glue in a magnet. I added a magnet to the back, and then put a steel washer inside my shirt. It was easy to attach and reposition the communicator badge.

Step 3: Name Tag

For a really good simple joke, add a name-tag to your outfit.

I like to point out the fact that, No, I'm not Kirk or Picard, I'm just some no-name security guard who is going to be dead on the next away mission.

To make the joke work, get a "Hi, My name is:" sticker name tag. I didn't have any of those around, but I did have some computer printable address labels.

Paste an image of "Hi, my name is" onto some of the address labels, and print out a few on a sheet.

Use a marker to fill in a name. My favorites are "Red Shirt" & "Expendable", but maybe you could come up with something even better.

Stick the label onto the red shirt, opposite of the insignia.

Step 4: Props!

Nothing completes an outfit like a couple of props!

For Star Trek, a phaser, tri-corder, or communicator are a must. Fortunately, they are all easy to make quick from items you already have.

The phaser is probably the easiest prop to find. All it really has to be is a plastic item that you can hold as though it was a laser gun. The Original Series had phasers that were fairly pistol-shaped, with a distinct handle. The Next Generation phasers were more curved and shaped not unlike many modern electronic items.

Look around your house to see what would make a good phaser. How about that non-contact thermometer in the garage? The TV remote? I noticed that even my home electric beard trimmer didn't look unlike a NextGen phaser. I've seen handles of old 8mm home movie cameras that looked like the Original Series phasers. The main thing is that you can hold it in your hand and point it like a gun. Dark colored plastic is great.

I settled on an electronic tire pressure gauge for my Next Generation phaser.

The tri-corder was a hand-held, all-purpose scanner device. Just about anything will do to make this part of your outfit. Old-school electronics with fake leather cases and neck straps work well for the Original Series. For a Next Generation tri-corder, why not just download one? I already had a smart phone, so I just spent the $.99 and bought the tri-corder app. There are several of them available through the iTunes Store. The app features lots of blinking lights and sound effects.

While the Next Generation had their communications technology built right into their badge, the original Star Trekkers had to settle for hand-held, flip-open technology. The quick and easy communicator prop is nearly self-evident - just dig out an old flip-style cell phone! If you don't still have one kicking around, I'm sure somebody you know still has one somewhere.
Be sure to flip it open every once in a while and call out "Beam me up, Scotty!"

Step 5: Go Boldly!

That's about it for your cheap and easy Star Trek Red Shirt outfit!

Now, go boldly where no man has gone before, off to that costume party, Trick-Or-Treating, or whatever other away mission you might have.

Make sure to get killed several times during the evening. At Halloween, there are plenty of giant spiders, aliens, and other threats to the away team. You may also want to mention how you are "really looking forward to my first away mission" or that you are replacing the crew member "tragically killed in the line of duty" last week.

If you drink bourbon, you could order a "Jim Beam Me Up Scotty."

This also makes a great group outfit. Just have all your friends do the same basic Star Trek outfit, only have them in blue, red, and gold to cover all the departments.

So, go forth, be a trekkie, and have lots of fun. Make sure to post photos of your best Star Trek outfits and adventures!

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