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"Cardassian uniform" refers to uniforms worn by individuals in the service of the Cardassian Guard, and thanks to ancient roots which pre-date the divergence between them, is almost identical in Cardassian Union universes and one universe where the Cardassian Theonomy exists in its place. (Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius--The Desolate Vigil)
In comparison to other militaries, the Cardassians did not have much variation when it came to uniforms in that departmental and rank variations are not evident, with the exception of the legate's uniform (and even that is quite similar to the ordinary uniform). It also appears to serve both ordinary service and most ceremonial purposes; in other words, formal and informal variations do not seem to exist aside from the ancient uniform of the Honor Vigil.
The vast majority of Cardassian servicemen and women, from simple soldiers to officers, wore the same uniform. It was predominantly black (with charcoal-grey accents) and its distinctive tri-ribbed cuirass was comprised of a rubber-like memory material that provided the wearer with some degree of protection against shrapnel and low-level phaser fire. The cuirass could not fully shield its wearer against the effects of a full-intensity blast, however, though it may have played a role in saving the life of Gul Tayben Berat during a Maquis-affiliated assassination attempt. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Flash", The Thirteenth Order)
The cuirass is designed not to hamper the free movement of the Cardassian head, and thus has a much wider neckline than seen in many humanoid clothing styles, in order to avoid encumbering the neck ridges. The non-Cardassian members of the Thirteenth Order who have worn the uniform found this slightly awkward given the exposure of skin that is not normally exposed on their own peoples' uniforms. However, the uniform still fit snugly, as the undershirt's material clung closely to the body, and the cuirass was largely held in place by its fit in the half-sleeves. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order) The gold writing on the cuirass--referred to as the cuirass inscription--states the individual's rank and ship or base of origin. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order)
Other equipment commonly regarded as part of the uniform are the wrist-worn communicator and universal translator ("wristcomm"), and the sidearm of some officers--a disruptor pistol worn on a holster that hangs from a belt and is also secured with a leg strap.
Regulation hair for men is a slicked-back style that usually comes to just below the chin in length (though this style is by cultural pressure worn by all Cardassian men as a tribute to Tret Akleen). (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions background essay--"Cousins We Could Have Been: Cardassians and How to Draw Them") Men from ethnic backgrounds that allow them to grow facial hair must shave. Women in uniform keep their hair long, but in braided pigtails. In both cases, high-ranking officers, including guls, have been known to get away with exceptions to the rules, such as Gul Macet's facial hair, and Gul Rebek's braids, which instead of hanging loose, circle around her head and secured in the back with a pin with the sigil of her Order. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order)
- Although the same military regulation is in place in the Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius universe, the civilian conformity is not seen. Some civilians adopt these military cuts by choice as a fashion statement, but it is by no means mandatory in the SigCat universe.
Deghilzin's variant (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions)Edit
Deghi'ilzin, the equivalent of cadets in the Cardassian Guard, wear a uniform that does not have the cuirass seen on other uniforms. Instead, the uniform includes a black and grey jacket without rank or position insignia. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion")
The occasion of a deghilzin being commissioned, or a non-commissioned conscriptee completing basic training, is commemorated by receiving the cuirass of a full member of the Guard (a ceremony usually marked by a toast). (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order)
The legate's uniform is very similar to those worn by other servicemen and women; the cuirass, however, is trimmed with silver accents, a legate's sigil is pinned to the left side of the chest, and the undershirt, of a burnt umber/charcoal grey color comes higher up onto the neck ridges than the undershirt of most other officers.
- In the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions universe, the higher-necked undershirt is not exclusive to legates. However, in canon it has never been seen on officers of any other rank.
History of the current uniformEdit
The variation of the uniform currently worn by the Cardassian military has its roots in the ancient uniform of Hebitian charioteers from the continent of Rivçal, who were the first to sport the tri-ribbed, triangular-pointed cuirass seen in the modern uniform. Aside from the lack of texturing to the cuirass, and the distinctive half-sleeves seen on the modern uniform, the design was lifted almost directly from the ancient one.
One variant of this ancient combat gear remains as a ceremonial uniform worn by certain officers on the most solemn occasions, consisting of a chain-mail robe (which parts in the middle to allow for movement of the legs, and also covers the palm of the hand, allowing the fingers to slip through holes for that purpose), and the cuirass, which unlike the modern uniform is combined with laminar armor protecting the chest, hip, and groin areas, reminiscent of medieval Japanese, or Roman armor of Earth.
Those who wear this uniform for a shift are referred to while they are wearing it as members of the Honor Vigil. In the current ceremonial uniform of the Honor Vigil, the cuirass inscription remains as it does on the modern version, while this was not a part of protocol in ancient days. While ancient soldiers may have wielded a variety of weapons, those who wear the uniform always bear a halberd, which in ancient days would have been used to swipe at fellow charioteers or the wheels of their chariots. Also, any helmet the ancients may have worn is not part of the modern Honor Vigil uniform. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions background essay--"Cousins We Could Have Been: Cardassians and How to Draw Them")
- Whether this variant Cardassian uniform was worn during any other time periods, or if it had a special purpose compared to other Cardassian uniforms, is unknown, though the officially-licensed novels speculate that this variant was exclusive to the Federation front during the Federation-Cardassian War.
An alternate Cardassian uniform seen on a few occasions bore no resemblance to the current uniform. Consisting of heavy brown, padded armor, and matching gloves, this uniform appeared briefly in the 2360s only to be abandoned in favor of the traditional uniform once more. This was the uniform Gul Macet wore during the Phoenix incident.
For a few months, the experimental hunter array was also required wear for those about to or engaging in an away mission, but this was quickly abandoned when the bureaucracy finally realized that not only did the devices not function as they should, but they were also the butt of jokes by alien races--which was not the image the Cardassian Union wished to convey. Gul Rebek, however, has worked on a hunter array and successfully learned how to use it--making her the only Cardassian soldier to do so. (TNG: "The Wounded", Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order)
One of the other items that set this uniform apart from the traditional one was the use of rank insignia instead of the cuirass inscription, which is entirely absent on this uniform.
- These same rank insignia are also worn on the half-sleeves of the cuirass in the alternate universe created by the intrusion of the Narada into the timeline. Whether this represents Cardassian uniforms as they appeared during the same era in the prime universe, however, is unknown. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Cardassian Sunrise")