Make It Sew – The Costume Blog – William Ware Theiss



William Ware Theiss - Costume Designer



1987-1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation

1985 The Man with One Red Shoe

1983 Heart Like a Wheel

1979 Butch and Sundance: The Early Days

1978 The Children of Sanchez

1978 Goin' South

1978 Who'll Stop the Rain

1977 Pete's Dragon

1976 Bound for Glory

1971 Harold and Maude

1966-1969 Star Trek (TV series)

1960 Spartacus



Developed a theory that the attractiveness of clothing on women is not really dependent on the amount of skin shown - rather, it depends on the degree to which the outfit appears to be on the verge of falling off.  The "Theiss Titillation Theory"—which claims that "the degree to which a costume is considered sexy is directly proportional to how accident-prone it appears to be"—is named after him. A key example of this idea in practice is the female android costume in the Star Trek episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" in which the revealing top portion consists only of two crossing straps of material that connect in one piece to trousers, and—Theiss's personal favorite—the gown featured in the episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?": a backless dress in which the front of the dress was held up by the weight of the train which fell over the shoulder to the floor.



4 Responses to Make It Sew – The Costume Blog – William Ware Theiss

  1. I bet those first runs of Star Trek had their share of cheers and jeers for those dresses (sexy versus sexist). Using the weight of the train to hold up a dress, that’s genius. I’ll consider that look for the next House Marillion ball. This year’s honors go to the 34th Light Mech Brigade for their successful defense of Hermes Prime.

    Outside of the Star Trek franchise and Spartacus, I don’t recall any of the other titles listed. Wonder if he ever was rubbed for his name. “Ware Theiss” … “wear this.”

  2. fuzztone says:

    “Pete’s Dragon” is a Disney movie, isn’t it? One of those 70’s live action/animation ones that no-one liked.

    Classic work in “Star Trek”, though – absolutely iconic costumes which managed to be simultaneously exactly of their time (the 60s mini dress, especially) and futuristic.

    Oh, and a pedant writes: that’s “Who Mourns For Adonis”… 🙂

  3. Nick Hentschel says:

    A great man, Mr. Theiss. It’s remarkable how much his style changed, though, between the two “Trek” series.

  4. Herr D says:

    **My kids LOVE “Pete’s Dragon” and ask for it specifically. The humans in it are very entertaining.

    At djuby: I like the fragile insurance against wardrobe malfunctions. It’s cute.