The Star Trek: Discovery finale may have teased a new old look coming to the series in its second season.
The Star Trek: Discovery season finale included a medal ceremony in which the crew of the Discovery was recognized for its bravery in ending the Federation-Klingon war. While the Discovery crew wore the same uniforms they wear during duty aboard Discovery, several members of Starfleet in the crowd wore something different.
The crowd was mostly out of focus, but the TrekCore twitter account captured a decent image that shows many of the officers in the audience wearing something different than the Starfleet uniforms worn by the Discovery crew.
The uniforms appear quite similar to those worn by officers aboard the Enterprise in the original pilot episode of Star Trek, “The Cage.”
Could this mean that “The Cage” era uniforms will be used in Star Trek: Discovery’s second season? It's possible. The fact that Star Trek: Discovery begins two years after the events of “The Cage” means that both versions of the Starfleet uniform were in use at the same time.
The not-quite-officially canon novel Star Trek: Discovery – Desperate Hours sees the crews of the Enterprise and the Shenzhou working together. That novel explained the difference in uniforms by saying that constitution class starships like the Enterprise were the pride of Starfleet, and so their crews were given newer, more diplomatic uniforms than the more military-inspired uniforms like those worn by the Discovery crew.
The Enterprise itself also showed up in the Star Trek: Discovery season finale. Co-creator Alex Kurtzman has stated that part of the Enterprise’s role in Star Trek: Discovery will be to explain the new show’s place in Star Trek canon. Perhaps addressing the uniforms is one way in which that will happen.
Looking at the history of Starfleet uniforms, the use of these two uniforms makes some sense and could be seen as a turning point. The uniforms used in the earliest days of Starfleet blue jumpsuits, seen in Star Trek: Enterprise. The flashback in 2009 Star Trek reboot movie showed a version of the uniform where command officers wore blue, science officers wore gray, and operations wore gold (this would be canon for the prime timeline since these uniforms were being worn before the Narada showed up and split the timelines). The uniforms seen in the crowd in Discovery's medal ceremony are somewhat similar to the command uniforms from this scene as well.
The Discovery uniforms are also blue with gold, silver, and bronze trim denoted department. “The Cage” uniforms denoted gold for command and blue for science. Perhaps this is the period when Starfleet moves away from using blue as a default or command color and assigns it to science officers instead.
Star Trek: Discovery Season Two begin filming in April.