The hidden meaning behind The Last Jedi costumes

It's one of the most overlooked aspects of moviemaking from an audience perspective, but costume design can make or break a film. Luckily for us, Lucasfilm and Disney were able to create some amazing costumes for the eighth entry into the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi. In the book Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionaryreaders can delve even deeper into the costumes, props, ships, and characters.

Lucasfilm's story group head Pablo Hidalgo wrote the guidebook, which is filled with countless tantalizing details that add to the overall richness and worldbuilding of The Last Jedi. It's worth picking up a copy for yourself, but in the meantime, here's all the hidden information we've been able to glean from the dictionary—and other sources—about the amazing costumes created for Episode VIII. Spoilers ahead!

Rey

According to The Last Jedi costume designer Michael Kaplan, Rey's look has changed out of necessity. Her location and her role in the galaxy have shifted dramatically—from a scavenger on a desert planet to a Jedi trainee on a water-covered one. The color palette shifts to one more appropriate for Ahch-To instead of Jakku. Her wardrobe includes comfortable capri trousers, resoled gorvath-wool boots, a cream shirt with integrated loops for her standard-issue Resistance holster, and a gray vest with matching arm wraps.

Being right-handed, Rey also wears a leather band around her left wrist to use as a prop for her quarterstaff when in combat, as well as the S-thread homing beacon Leia gave her before she left D'Qar. Her outfit evolves throughout the film, finally settling on a loosely-draped gray/blue tabard draped openly in the traditional Jedi fashion. Under it, Rey wears a black quilted tunic and gray pants. This is the outfit she wears when she tries to save Kylo and is brought before Supreme Leader Snoke.

Finn

When we first see Finn in The Last Jedi, he's recovering from his injuries in a medically-induced coma, encased in a flexpoly bacta suit filled with synthetic fluids designed to accelerate his healing. Once the grogginess wears off, Finn changes back into the clothing he wore for most of The Force Awakens. This includes his standard-issue stormtrooper "temperature-control body glove" (pants) and the leather Resistance jacket he got from Poe Dameron in Episode VII. The jacket is a little worse for the wear after Finn's adventures, but Poe repaired it while waiting for his friend to recover from his injuries. You can spot the pilot's sewing handiwork on the jacket's right shoulder in the film. While infiltrating Snoke's ship, Finn's first stop is at the laundry room to steal uniforms to use in their disguise. He dons the black uniform of a First Order officer, and in a deleted scene is even able to fool a stormtrooper he grew up with (played by Tom Hardy). 

Poe Dameron

Poe literally wears his allegiance on his sleeve by proudly displaying the Resistance/Rebel Alliance "starbird" crest, which is seen on both his squadron leader helmet and his insulated, vacuum-sealable flight suit. After his customized "Black One" X-wing is destroyed, Poe wears more traditional Resistance garb—including a snazzy new runyip-leather jacket to replace the one he gave to Finn. Poe also wears a necklace bearing the wedding ring of his late mother Shara Bey, which was made from a burnished steel washer salvaged from old Rebel tech. According to the Visual Dictionary, Poe is "waiting to share it someday with the right partner."

Kylo Ren

Actor Adam Driver certainly made a big impression on fans with that shirtless scene, but Kylo Ren's costume in The Last Jedi has some really interesting details too. His black cloak is made of special static-damping fabric that grounds electrical interference, and his lightsaber wounds were sealed with high-tech mechnosutures—although they were applied too late to prevent scarring. Kylo's custom helmet contained a vocoder which gave him that menacing voice—until he shattered the helmet in a fit of rage. For The Last Jedi, Kylo lost his hood and also wears new trousers and boots. Although Kylo's still sticking with that all-black vibe, Michael Kaplan thinks ditching his helmet, hood, and shirt for this film is a sign that Kylo has "maybe loosened up a bit" since The Force Awakens.

Leia

Michael Kaplan looked to a real-life royal as inspiration for Leia's wardrobe. "Rian wanted her to look more regal…more like a princess. There are pictures of Queen Elizabeth II wearing a military cape that inspired me." Kaplan went on to explain how those styles were integrated into Leia's costumes for the film. "She has two costumes that are somewhat similar because they're both capes. One is metallic woven fabric and the other one which is much more simple—a gray-green cape that she wears until the end of the film. I love how it frames her face."

Much of the jewelry that shows up in The Last Jedi is there because the actress pulled director Rian Johnson aside in rehearsals to tell him the movie needed "space jewelry." Along with Leia's more traditional adornments, she also bears a homing beacon built into the S-thread transmitter worn on her wrist. Finn later takes charge of the bracelet after Leia is injured. These kind of beacons work in pairs, and Rey carries the mated beacon on her own matching bracelet. In her hair, Leia wears a traditional Alderaanian mourning braid—likely in remembrance of Han Solo.

Luke

When Rey first approaches Luke on Ahch-To, he's wearing his traditional homespun Jedi robes in order to perform what he sees as the "last rite" of the Jedi Order. After Rey interrupts that rite, Luke dons a more "everyday" outfit—consisting of dark gray waterproof boots, tightly wound leggings, an intricately woven hooded wool tunic that sheds water, and a waterproof pinniped-skin jacket or weather shawl. He sometimes carries an old orange Rebel Alliance pack and a walking stick carved to resemble a snake. Luke later returns to his  traditional Jedi robes—and his faith in the Force—for his final confrontation with Kylo on Crait.

Luke doesn't wear any jewelry (that we can see) in The Last Jedi, but he does own some. You can spot an antique Jedi Crusader necklace inside his hut on Ahch-To. The leather necklace has an adjustable slide and the pendant is a trophy made from the fragmented crystal of a Sith lightsaber—probably collected after the Sith was killed by some ancient Jedi. Speaking of lightsabers, where is Luke's green-bladed one? Unfortunately, that question wasn't answered in the movie or the Visual Dictionary. Hopefully we get some answers in Episode IX.

Snoke

According to the Visual Dictionary, Snoke's twisted and damaged body wracks him with pain constantly, which has "caused him to prioritize comfort" in his wardrobe. To this end, Snoke wears corded auropyle fabric khalat robes along with intricately embroidered slippers. Although Snoke isn't a Sith, his interest in the ancient religion shows in one of his accessories. The gold ring he wears is engraved with glyphs of the Sith-revered philosophers known as the Dwartii and contains a chunk of obsidian from the catacombs beneath Darth Vader's castle on Mustafar. We've previously seen Dwartii glyphs on several statues owned by Chancellor Palpatine—one of which was used to hide his hand-built lightsaber.

Along with his Elite Praetorian Guards, Snoke's most loyal attendants include a group of mute alien navigators from the Unknown Regions. Without their aid, most of the Imperial survivors of the Galactic Civil War would have died in this uncharted part of space. These navigators wear amplification lenses to assist their weak eyesight, and dark purple robes "meant to evoke the royal hues of old Imperial advisors," which conceal the segmented and chitinous plates of their bodies.

Rose

Rose Tico's Resistance mechanic jumpsuit comes equipped with a hood—which no doubt comes in handy while crawling around in the coldest and dirtiest parts of a starship to fix a problem. Her belt and jumpsuit sleeve are loaded with self-coded data override spikes, and Rose wears an antique ring hiding a Rebel Alliance crest—which was "once used to show support for the Rebellion in the halls of the Imperial Senate." In addition to her ring, Rose wears a unique necklace medallion with a stylized depiction of the constellation Hays Minor from the Otomok System. The medallion is made of pure Haysian Smelt, a metal which is an incredibly efficient electrical conductor.

The matching half of this necklace was worn by Rose's sister Paige, who sacrificed herself to drop an electromagnetically impelled payload of bombs aboard the "Cobalt Hammer" MG-100 StarFortress. On the Supremacy, Rose wears the dark blue uniform of a Major and a pair of First Order officer's boots—which she later steals and wears during the Resistance's escape to the surface of Crait.

The Resistance

Among the other Resistance members, the costume of Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo has the most interesting details. Michael Kaplan points to the haute couture designs of famed fashion designer Madame Grès as his main inspiration for Holdo's wardrobe. Her gown and hair color (dyed with chromomites) are an homage to the independent spirit of her homeworld, Gatalenta. Holdo's Gatalentan jewelry includes several rings, an Osmium tiara representing the planet's multiple suns, and bracelets that "trace local star constellation patterns."

Officers of the Resistance typically wear a brismoss-fiber uniform tunic with rank plaque, integrated belt and hidden breast pocket. We first saw Kaydel Ko Connix (played by Carrie Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd) in The Force Awakens. Since then, she's been promoted to Lieutenant as indicated by the new rank insignia on her uniform in The Last Jedi. According to the Visual Dictionary, Connix earned the promotion for "admirable service as an operations controller during the Starkiller crisis."

Most Resistance starfighter pilots wear a standard "interstellar orange" flight suit, including a Guidenhauser ejection harness, reinforced gear terrets, and buoyancy-foam flight vest collar. Some pilots add a personal touch, like the late Jaycris Tubbs—whose helmet was stenciled with the names of his children. The RZ-2 A-wing pilot Lieutenant Tallissan "Tallie" Lintra wore a synthsilk scarf given to her by her father, and decorated her helmet with the punchline to a well-known pilot's joke.

The First Order

The standard dark-colored First Order officer uniform comes with flared-hip breeches and insignia on the arm and hat. Their work gloves have electro-sensitive fingertips that allow them to use touchscreen computers and devices. Some officers have coded rank cylinders on the chest (including at least one poison-filled decoy), which are used in datapads and other computers on board their ships. Some First Order officers also wear an Aurebesh rank arm-sash commemorating the Galactic Empire's legendary Admiral Clyss Power.

General Armitage Hux wears a flared black trenchcoat over his uniform, which conceals a potentially deadly secret: a monomolecular-blade dagger up hidden up his sleeve. Hux once used Phasma to quietly assassinate his own father, and this connection plays into Phasma's wardrobe. She machined her chromium armor herself, and it was made from the hull of a space yacht Hux's father owned—a Naboo vessel formerly owned by Emperor Palpatine himself. Her quicksilver spear was acquired on her homeworld of Parnassos, where Phasma escaped her tribal culture and joined the First Order as a young woman.

The Praetorian Guard

Snoke's elite bodyguards wear a symbolic red armorweave tunic, which blends in perfectly with the red curtains that line the walls of his throne room and also serves as an homage to Emperor Palpatine's Royal Guard. The First Order values symmetry, and the eight anonymous Praetorian Guard members are actually four sets of pairs, with each pair's armor and weaponry matching in every way. Their precision-machined combat armor is the same brilliant crimson as their tunics, and is segmented to aid flexibility.

Standard features include greaves to protect their lower legs and large shoulder pauldrons to defend against vertical strikes. The armor is made of several layers of material sandwiching a network of wires that create an intense local magnetic field. This magnetic defense can deflect blaster fire and even a glancing blow from a lightsaber, although exposure to this field eventually causes intense pain for the wearer. According to the Visual Dictionary, "the Praetorians endure this out of unswerving loyalty and duty" to Supreme Leader Snoke.

The Droids

Unlike typical unpainted Resistance BB-model droids, BB-8 has a one-of-a-kind orange and white finish, and his multiple tool-bay discs can be swapped out for ones with different functions. When the droid joins Finn and Rose during their infiltration of Snoke's Supremacy mega-destroyer, he gets a costume of his own: a black First Order trash can. BB-8 uses his costume to the fullest potential by pretending to be a cute (but evil) MSE "Mouse" droid—complete with imitated beeps. However, his First Order counterpart BB-9E comes equipped with some modifications that allow the droid to see through BB-8's disguise. BB-9E has a multi-spectrum photoreceptor with telescoping lens, and his tool-bay discs are replaced with grilled openings that increase ventilation and sensor efficiency.

While protocol droid C-3PO didn't have a large role in The Last Jedi (except to create fan speculation about when he got his red arm repainted), communications droid PZ-4CO "Peazy" played a crucial part as an evacuation coordinator on D'Qar. The red markings on her shell indicate her "expanded role during crisis situations," including serving as a first-aid medic and duty nurse on the Raddus.

Others

Unlike most Canto Bight casino patrons (whose costumes were inspired by Truman Capote's infamous 1966 Black and White Ball), con artist and codebreaker D.J. has a simple wardrobe when Finn and Rose meet him: a kodyok-leather jacket with a matching hat and a pair of well-worn boots. His hat bears a tin plate reading "don't join"—his personal motto and the source of his nickname. But don't let looks deceive you: the often-disheveled D.J. has a taste for the finer things in life. He instantly recognized Rose's Haysian smelt necklace, and he wears a ring with amber from Trammis III. Aboard the Supremacy, D.J. dons a First Order Lieutenant's uniform.

The enclave of female Lanais that live on Ahch-To's Jedi Temple island are known as Caretakers, and have served for thousands of years to protect and maintain the structures on the island. As a symbol of their nun-like order, the Caretakers wear a white or cream habit made of woven plant fibers—complete with matching headdress. Although we don't see them in the theatrical release of The Last Jedi, keep an eye out for the Blu-ray deleted scenes to get a look at the male Lanais—who spend most of their life at sea. These fishermen have much more varied costumes than the Caretakers, with elements including byssus-wool smocks, dried crinoid frontrailer hats, and floatation vests made of vacullacle shells.