Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Thursday 2 December 2021

Doctor Who: A History of Timelord Costume


Share This Article:

Now Peter Capaldi's costume has been revealed ahead of Doctor Who's return to screens later this year, we take a look at the dress sense of Doctors past, and reveal the secrets you may or may not have known that lie behind the layers of bow-ties, question marks, patchwork coats and colourful Converse...

1st Doctor: William Hartnell’s original incarnation of The Doctor from 1963-66 was something of an eccentric Edwardian gentleman in his dress, which typically consisted of tartan trousers, thin cravat, blue signet ring and a dark frock coat. Perhaps the historical influence of his dress was intentional, so as to reinforce the idea of time travel and the ever-present juxtaposition of past and future. Occasional additions included a cape, half-moon glasses, a walking stick which could double as a handy weapon (who needs a sonic screwdriver anyway?) and a cape; all in all, one truly dapper Doctor.








2nd Doctor: Patrick Troughton’s second Doctor dressed fairly similarly to Hartnell’s earlier incarnation, although far less refined; his trousers were a bit too big and the smart cravat became a bow tie (see, Matt Smith? They were always cool). As well as sharing a fondness for natty neckwear, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor and Troughton’s 2nd also seem to have shared a passion for millinery. In his first adventure on Vulcan, the 2nd Doctor donned a tall Lincoln-esque stovepipe hat, and throughout his three years as the Doctor (1966-69) often exclaimed over various headgear just how much he "would like a hat like that!"










3rd Doctor: While the red-lined cape was a little reminiscent of a magician, Jon Pertwee’s 1970-74 Doctor certainly possessed the most ornate and extravagant costumes of all the Doctor’s incarnations.  This version favoured his definitive Inverness capes, frilly-necked shirts, velvet smoking jackets in a number of rich colours, riding boots, dress shoes and all manner of accessories including cravats and leather gloves. The theatricality and flair with which he carried off these creations earned Pertwee’s Doctor the nickname ‘The Dandy Doctor’; a title that he bore with aplomb, regardless of what the 1st Doctor though of his ensemble in The Three Doctors.










4th Doctor: Tom Baker’s 4th incarnation of the Doctor was the one to don the now legendary striped scarf between 1974-81.  Baker explained that this now iconic item was originally the idea of costume designer James Acheson, who commissioned his friend Begonia Pope to create a colourful design using a huge choice of wools – which she then proceeded to use every last inch of. In the series, however, the Doctor claims that his beloved and impractically long scarf was knitted for him by Madame Nostradamus (wife of French apothecary, Nostradamus).  As well as his famous scarf, Baker’s Doctor’s costume generally consisted of a shirt, waistcoat, cravat, trousers, frock coat and a wide-brimmed hat – a look apparently based originally on paintings and posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec of his friend, the singer Aristide Bruant, whose trademark was a black cloak and long red scarf.  In his last year, Baker’s Doctor was the first to wear an item of clothing bearing the question mark motif (on his shirt collars, in this case) that became synonymous with the show as it progressed.


















5th Doctor: Peter Davison’s 1981-84 Doctor chose to dress in a manner resembling an English cricketer, even going so far as to carry a cricket ball in one of his pockets. True to form, he wore a cream overcoat, striped trousers, cricket jumper and a Panama hat.  The 5th Doctor's costume also bore the question marks introduced in the Baker era, although this time the motifs on the collar were red rather than gold. He also wore a celery stalk on his left lapel, which he claimed would turn purple in the presence of certain gases to which he was allergic.  If this happened, he said that he would then eat the celery, which "if nothing else, I'm sure it's good for my teeth."


















6th Doctor: Against Colin Baker’s wishes, producer John Nathan-Turner chose to dress the 6th Doctor in a colourful, clashing, garish costume that Baker described as "an explosion in a rainbow factory" from 1984-86. The offending item was as iconic as Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor’s striped scarf in terms of Doctor Who history; a red and green patchworked coat with yellow and pink lapels, which was teamed with a white shirt (again with question marks on the collar), and a variety of brightly coloured, patterned waistcoats and cravats.  The Doctor’s ongoing penchant for loud trousers continued with his 6th incarnation, who wore a yellow striped pair which he wore with green and black ankle boots with orange spats.  Another of this Doctor’s quirks was his fancy for cat badges, many of which were based on Baker’s own.


















7th Doctor: Sylvester McCoy’s initially easy-going, whimsical Doctor of 1987-89 (and 1996) needed an outfit to match his laid-back demeanour; his casual costume of an off-white safari-style jacket, red paisley scarf and matching handkerchief, red paisley tie, fob watch, plain white shirt, knitted pullover, plaid trousers, white and brown brogues and white Panama hat being perfectly suited. The 7th Doctor carried over the question mark motif, which this time featured as a pattern on his yellow fairisle-inspired pullover, and on his umbrella with its red question mark-shaped handle. However, as the Doctor’s character became more scheming and decisive, so his clothes became darker; his light jacket, and the scarf, tie, handkerchief and hatband that had once been a jovial red paisley turned to shades of burgundy and brown as things got murky and mysterious. The 7th Doctor also marked the end of the question mark motif which, after four incarnations, would be seen no more.



















8th Doctor: While suffering the amnesia that followed his regeneration, Paul McGann’s charming 8th Doctor of 1996 chose an outfit that he found in a hospital locker which, as luck would have it, was a Wild Bill Hickock (an admired character of the American Old West) costume – consisting of a plain white question mark-less shirt, grey cravat and trousers, green velvet frock coat and black rubber boots that are a bit on the small side – intended for a New Year's Eve costume party. Not so lucky for the poor soul who had their special outfit stolen but, if anyone was going to leave you stranded in your pants, who better than a cosplaying time-travelling alien?









9th Doctor: He came back with a bang in 2005, as Christopher Eccleston marked the birth of the 9th Doctor.  This incarnation’s choice in costume went against the Doctors of old, adopting a modern, minimal look rather than old-fashioned and eccentric styles. This unique, almost combat-inspired costume consisted of a battered leather jacket, plain t-shirts and trousers, and heavy boots; a dark look that furthered the idea of the Doctor as a war-torn hero of the Last Great Time War, and reflecting a darker state of mind than many of his previous embodiments.















10th Doctor: Ah, David Tennant. Some say that he was the ultimate personification of the Doctor from 2005-10, as his cheeky, chirpy yet emotionally-charged character bandied about between planets and time periods with his indie-boy persona; slim-fitting suits, shirt and tie, teamed with various pairs of colourful Converse and a brown coat once apparently belonging to Janis Joplin.  Tennant’s Doctor was something of a heartthrob, winning the affections of his companion Rose Tyler and leagues of Doctor Who fans worldwide – evidently, you just can’t beat a trendy, time-travelling madman with a box and a good head of hair.























11th Doctor: With a costume that reflected his somewhat nutty professor/eccentric English teacher character, Matt Smith’s 2010-13 Doctor handpicked his look from various garments that, like the 8th Doctor, he found in a hospital. The brown tweed jacket (complete with elbow patches), black trousers, braces, buttoned-up shirts and ankle-high boots and trademark bow-ties certainly lent to his hipster-geek charm, and helped relaunch bow-ties as THE accessory de jour; if the Doctor says “bow-ties are cool”, then it must be true.  Similarly, the 11th Doctor proclaimed “fezzes are cool” during an outing to the National Museum, harking back to the age of the 2nd Doctor and his hat affections.













12th Doctor: So, what can we expect from the Doctor’s 12th incarnation in the form of Peter Capaldi? Pictures this week revealed Capaldi sporting a very British (fitting, given the Doctor’s timeless soft spot for London) dark blue Crombie coat with a red lining reminiscent of Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor, dark blue trousers, a white shirt and black Dr Martens.  A little bit magician, a little bit mod, this look was created by Doctor Who costume designer Howard Burden and, according to Capaldi, gives viewers a taste of what the Doctor’s newest body will bring: “He's woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics…No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100% rebel time lord.' He might not be as trendy as Tennant or Smith, or as gentlemanly as Hartnell and McGann, but we definitely like.















Images courtesy of Doctor Who Spoilers and mrgarethm on Flickr.

Articles: 29
Reads: 159013
© 2021 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974