By now the Team Zissou uniform is legendary in and of itself, duplicated to various degrees of accuracy by thousands of twenty-somethings on Halloween. But that combo of a knit red beanie, blue wetsuit, and Zissou edition Adidas certainly deserves better than being reduced to a costume. The Zissou uniform is a reflection of the crew-the colors are reminiscent of the ocean, but are lighter than Naval attire, expressing the exploratory nature of team Zissou. The sheer fact that all the crew members are wearing the exact same outfit is one of the most important aspects of the film. For as beloved and memorable as he is, Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray) is essentially a cult figure. In The Life Aquatic, the rest of the characters follow Zissou, placing their personal endeavors aside in order to follow Zissou in his quest for vengeance.
Coming off The Royal Tenenbaums, a film where individuality is a crucial part of the story, Anderson takes a step in a different direction, opting instead for uniformity in his characters. Zissou and his crew have all banded together for a common goal, and their identical uniforms solidify this unity. The character’s diverse backgrounds and personalities become suppressed in a way. Zissou has brought these men together, wrangled them into a mission, and outfitted them as he saw fit. Although all the men are presented identically, as the movie progresses it becomes clear that everyone in the crew is distinct in their own way. The homogeneity of what the crew members wear actually works to amplify their uniqueness as each character must rely on their personality to convey who they are as people. While The Royal Tenenbaums drew attention to each character’s respective outfit to show something about them, the uniforms in The Life Aquatic draw the audience away from the clothes and force us to focus on actions and dialogue to better understand who each individual character truly is.