Sometimes you’re watching a lot of Clone Wars, and sometimes your brain points out little innocuous things to you… like the fact that Jedi never seem to have luggage.
So, during the Clone Wars, Jedi are dispatched across the galaxy constantly to handle various galactic disputes, battles, and diplomatic messes. Often, they take Jedi starfighters and land them on big Republic cruisers, giving them flexibility to come and go as they need to. When they sleep, it’s typically on planets during missions, or it’s in quarters on the bigger ships. Sometimes there’s a chance to get back to the Jedi Temple and sleep in quarters there, but generally, they’re on the go all the time.
Yet you’ll never find them slinging a weekender over their shoulder, or dragging a little rolly carry-on bag behind them.
Here’s the thing about Jedi uniforms: They’re all different. And that’s not just in terms of shades of brown and beige, and layering options, but because the Jedi themselves are all different. Some of them have similar garments, but they are clearly permitted to go outside the usual color schemes, styles, and fit as they prefer. Anakin Skywalker likes his leather. Ahsoka Tano likes wine colors and muscle tees. Barriss Offee goes for a full-length dress and a cloak of midnight blue. Regardless of whatever personal flare they may impart, however, the Jedi are expected to live their lives like monks—they don’t get whole wardrobes and they’re not meant to hang on to personal possessions, with the exception of their lightsabers. So how many changes of clothes are they likely to have, even back at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant?
When it comes to uniformed officers of the Republic, we can assume that they have many duplicates clothing-wise because that’s how uniforms are meant to work—you have a slew on hand, they get washed in sequence as you wear them. Also, many of those officers are assigned to specific ships that they don’t leave, and as part of a carefully tracked military operation, their needs are seen to in regard to food, clothing, and lodging. This is important because an army has systems in place for these sorts of things. There are probably clones—or more likely droids—who collect dirty garments and get them sorted and tended to. The cruisers and barracks come equipped with what the clones need because they are the primary occupants of those craft during wartime.
But, and I’ll point this out again, Jedi don’t have luggage. And they’re constantly on the move.
It’s significant because we can make easier assumptions elsewhere. Some people have droid attachés who take care of these things. When Padmé is traveling with Anakin in Attack of the Clones, we actually see her luggage. (Anakin is helping to carry most of it, in fact.) Other groups have caravans or ships to house their clothes on. When Lando owned the Falcon, there was a giant walk-in closet full of couture looks to chose from. But here are the Jedi, in tiny starfighters, hopping from place to place with no sneaky compartments, no executive assistants arriving ahead of them carting crates of necessities, and no garment bags.
If you’re going to keep your clothes even slightly clean in that situation, they’d have to be washed every several days. More frequently if you’re doing a lot of fighting and working up a sweat, which the Jedi were often doing as the leading generals of the clone army. And the only time that laundry load would be convenient would be whenever you were sleeping on board a giant cruiser getting some much needed shut eye between one call and the next.
Which means that Jedi sleep naked.
Are there other possibilities in this scenario? Of course there are. But most of them are unduly complicated or have no evidence to back them up:
- You step into freshers—those are the shower units in Star Wars—and they clean your clothes while they clean your body somehow. Then again, there is no given indication that freshers could work that way.
- The astromech droids attached to the starfighters are always carrying around a suitcase-worth of clothing. But there’s not a lot of room in R2-D2’s can for anything other than his own equipment and the occasional Death Star plan or hidden lightsaber, so that seems unlikely.
- There’s a Jedi “handler” aboard most Republic ships who makes sure that each individual Jedi’s needs are seen to. While that would be fascinating, we’ve never seen a person like that aboard any Republic ship ever.
- They 3D print new robes. …We’ve never seen that tech anywhere in Star Wars, oddly.
As we can see, there are plenty of possibilities, even if none of them quite fit what we’ve been shown. So sure, maybe there’s another explanation.
And then there are the practical real-world considerations for these issues, namely that most characters—both cartoons and live-action figures—in Star Wars change their clothes very rarely. This is mostly just a worldbuilding and budget issue—it’s cheaper to animate and clothe characters if they always wear the same stuff (*cough* Din Djarin’s Mandalorian armor that he can never ever take off because “This is the way” *cough*) and plenty of pop culture narratives don’t bother to focus on things like bathrooms and common colds and how people wash their undergarments. It’s unfortunate because the weird, gross minutiae of life can be even more interesting in narratives like Star Wars, where you can come up with any manner of strange sci-fi mechanisms to make these problems a little smoother—or a little more disgusting, depending on your angle. If you wanted to create a special machine that the Jedi walk through to clean their clothes—you can do that! If you want the Jedi to smell awful and give each other flak during the Clone Wars for not being able to shower for weeks at a time—you can do that too! The options are endless, because that’s what science fiction and fantasy are good for.
Within the Star Wars universe, you can come up with reasons behind the lack of costume changes to ease your own mind. For example, people probably run around with a lot of duplicate clothing for the sake of ease and simplicity, or it’s simply all they can get their hands on—the majority of the Star Wars galaxy doesn’t have much by way of money and resources, so most clothing is probably bought cheap, in bulk, and infrequently with the exception of specialty pieces like coats and boots. But then again, characters in that position often seem to have excuses for a lack of vestment diversity; they’re never getting breaks and are probably walking around a little bit rank most of the time (starfighter pilots and mechanics and musicians who entertain Hutts), or they live somewhere they can easily keep a small wardrobe and wash their clothes with some frequency (easy if you’ve got your own ship and use it as a home, or you’re a farmer, or you’re one of the few folx in this galaxy with an actual day job that only takes a third of your life). When you take into account the massive power imbalances throughout Star Wars, not having a Lando Calrissian amount of clothing makes sense. How many people have the ability to dedicate that much time to thinking about what they’re throwing onto their bodies before heading out the door?
But even taking all of that into account, this Jedi thing is still kind of weird, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s not even casually addressed. Do they get standard issue Jedi sleep clothes? We never see the younglings walking around the temple in cute onesies, that’s for sure. We never see Mace Windu in a spa day look. We only ever see Yoda shed a layer or two, but that hardly counts. Obi-Wan Kenobi is never out of uniform, and even knowing how much he cares about presentation, that doesn’t do much to make sense of things. Ahsoka Tano changes clothes, but not day to day—her vestments change as she gets older, growing out of one set of clothes and into another.
Anakin is the one outlier in this. Sort of. He wears some flowy garments on Naboo when hiding out during Episode II, but they read more like clothes that Padmé provided him. Nabooian pajamas are definitely a thing, right? And when Anakin is sleeping in their shared quarters in Revenge of the Sith, he sleeps shirtless—but that’s a place he’s living in part-time, so it stands to reason that he’d have some more clothes there. (Which could, again, be provided by his wife, who is something of a clothes horse from a planet that is big on costume drama. And also has suitcases.)
While they’re all on missions, though? While the Clone War rages, and they’re hopping from place to place without so much as a hat box?
It’s just a simpler explanation. Jedi sleep naked.
I’m sorry to break this to you, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.