You Can Learn a Lot About a Jedi From Their Clothing
The costume change is a time-honored tradition in most movies/media, meant to symbolize a character’s growth. However, I think special attention can and should be paid to the changes Jedi characters, and their wardrobes, go through on their arcs in Star Wars.
Let’s take a look at what that has meant for some of the most prominent Jedi in the galaxy far, far away.
Luke Skywalker went from tan ponchos to patent leather boots; that’s character growth.
But seriously, there is a lot of storytelling in Luke’s outfits.
Luke starts out in white/tan work clothes as a wide-eyed, idealistic farm boy who dreams of being a pilot and leaving his home behind. But when he finally does get to live his dream as a pilot in the rebellion, he’s burdened by the still-fresh grief of the loss of Obi-Wan and his aunt and uncle, as well as disappointment in Han’s departure.
From there, his clothes are mostly variations of bold orange flight suits or tactical jumpsuits in neutral/natural shades of tan and green. This becomes a lot more apparent on Dagobah, where Luke almost blends in with the environment, much like he is attempting to connect with the Force.
When we meet Luke in Return of the Jedi, he is much changed after his encounter with Darth Vader and wears black as a symbol of that. This, combined with Luke’s much less emotional demeanor, made audiences wonder: Could Luke turn to the dark side?
After Luke rejects the Emperor’s offer to rule the galaxy by his side and is almost killed for it, his dark suit is revealed to have a light lining layer, showing how Luke was truly good all along.
When Rey first meets him in the sequel trilogy, he’s wearing long white Jedi robes, making fans think that he’s now the wise Jedi master, ready to impart his knowledge to the next generation. Then he throws away his father’s lightsaber and changes into his dark, depressed Jedi robes.
Luke Skywalker of The Last Jedi is thoroughly disillusioned with the Jedi and himself. He failed and he acknowledges that, but also can’t face his sister after leaving her with the mess he made.
At the same time, Luke ultimately plays into the myth by appearing before the Resistance and First Order, wearing an outfit that appears to be a direct reference to his black suit in Return of the Jedi and wielding his father’s lightsaber as he faces Kylo Ren.
When Luke does die, his Force ghost wears the Jedi robes Rey first saw him in, showing how he has found his faith in the Force and the Jedi once again.
Like his son before/after him, Anakin starts off as a wide-eyed idealist who wants to help others despite his own harsh living state, and therefore starts off wearing light colors in The Phantom Menace.
By the time we meet him again in Attack of the Clones, he’s already donned darker robes, indicative of how he’s already going down a dark path thanks to Palpatine’s influence in his life. This foreshadowing continues into The Clone Wars, where he dons clone armor that happens to resemble the top of Vader’s chest plate. He also grows out his hair after being knighted, symbolizing a break from the traditional Jedi Order.
When Anakin appears as a Force ghost/vision for Ahsoka, he’s as he looks toward the end of the Clone Wars, right before the Siege of Mandalore and Revenge of the Sith. This is Anakin as Ahsoka wants to remember him: her teacher, brother, and friend.
Ezra is an interesting break from the mold as, while he does dabble in the dark side, his clothing remains just as colorful in the later seasons as they were in seasons 1–2, with Ezra favoring cheerful yellows, oranges, and greens. This feels intentional, as Ezra was still a teenager at this point and maintained his sense of humor throughout the whole show.
The bigger change is his hair, which he cuts into a shorter, more practical style, reminiscent of the traditional padawan haircut sans braid, and it looks to be a darker shade of black.
Like Luke before her, Rey starts out in a white desert-dwelling outfit. However, it takes on even more significance when you see Rey’s flashback to being abandoned and she is wearing white with her hair in three buns. Her attire isn’t just a callback to our first Jedi protagonist but a character’s trauma response to losing her family; how would Rey’s family recognize her unless she dresses the same way she did as a six-year-old?
The grey outfit she dons at the end of The Force Awakens shows how she is slowly letting go of her family in favor of finding Luke Skywalker and learning to be a Jedi. However, her hair remains in the buns, showing how she’s still holding on to the past.
Fittingly, the buns come down when Rey goes to the Dark Side cave, searching for answers about her parents. From there, she changes into a dark grey and brown tunic to face Kylo Ren, the first of many Return of the Jedi references. Despite the dark costume change, she is unswayed by the Dark Side and Kylo’s offer for them to rule together.
In Rise of Skywalker, she goes back to a light-colored outfit and her triple-buns, possibly a way of bringing Rey full circle and connecting her to her family, whether she wants to or not. The most notable change is Rey’s lightsabers. After using multiple hand-me-down lightsabers from Luke/Anakin and Leia, Rey forges her own yellow blade that takes inspiration from her Jakku staff, showing how she is remembering her past but also creating her own future.
Ahsoka has probably had the most costume changes out of any Jedi (Cal Kestis and his infinite ponchos notwithstanding).
When we first meet her, Ahsoka is in her infamous “crop-top” and short skirt with leggings phase, a baffling decision considering both her age and status as a child soldier. I suppose it does illustrate her inexperience compared to Anakin and Obi-Wan, who are wearing clone armor over parts of their robes. Thankfully, this outfit has seemingly been retconned, with the Ahsoka show putting her in a more practical version of her seasons 3–5 outfit.
Ahsoka’s costume change halfway through season 3 did take on some of the darker tones, losing the white tights in favor of grey leggings and favoring a darker shade of red. Ahsoka also gains her second shoto lightsaber, a gift from Anakin to help her deflect blaster bolts.
After leaving the Jedi Order, Ahsoka’s color palette shifts from red to blue, with her jumpsuit and her Siege of Mandalore outfit. This Ahsoka is trying to find herself beyond her identity as a Jedi padawan.
Rebels Ahsoka is probably her most drastic redesign yet, being a 15-year time jump after her last appearance in The Clone Wars/Tales of the Jedi. No longer a Jedi but still a Force wielder, Ahsoka uses twin white lightsabers, taken from the crystals of an Inquistor’s lightsaber that she healed with the Force. Her Rebels look was also the first to shift Ahsoka toward a lone Ronin look, with her curved lightsaber hilts and armor featuring many similarities to the style of Samurai.
From there, we get Ahsoka as she appears in live action, with perhaps her most grey and muted palette yet, emphasizing how serious Ahsoka has become. Despite the war being over, Ahsoka clearly still carries a heavy emotional burden with her.
It’s only after meeting with Anakin in the World Between Worlds that she is able to move on from her past. Much like Gandalf returning as Gandalf the White, Ahsoka now boasts a white cloak and a greater connection to the living Force.
What’s your favorite Jedi look? Comment below!
(featured image: Disney+/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
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