Last week, we got our first look at the 12th Doctor’s duds. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who costume reveal has inspired me to take a look back at each of the Time Lord’s incarnations from the sartorial perspective. My nonsensical rating system is based on the directional pad of a video game controller. You know, because.
Disclaimer: Yes, I’m super biased. I’m about half as old as this show is, so I haven’t seen every single episode of the classic series, as Netflix doesn’t have the greatest selection. I did the best I could with what I’ve got!
William Hartnell’s Doctor is depicted in Edwardian garb– a dark suit jacket, contrasting vest, plaid pants, and cravat. Occasionally, we see him add a scarf and a hat that I literally cannot find words to describe. (I’ve come up with: Russian soldier meets Peter Pan?) I think this suit is good. The cravat is clearly a bygone style that I wouldn’t recommend anyone trying out. This look says to me: I mean business, but I’m kind of a cool guy. It’s serious, but indicates a certain level of personal style. The scarf and hat sort of add that grandfatherly element, and hint at the silliness we’ve come to expect. He also carries a wooden walking cane and has been spotted smoking a pipe— again, grandfatherly and distinguished. This outfit reminds me of Ebenezer Scrooge a bit, and I think that’s fair. Matt Smith’s Doctor says about his first incarnation, ” I was always trying to be old and grumpy and important, like you do when you’re young.” I think this outfit embodies that— a strive for sophistication, but underneath, he’s the mad man we love. I give this look three up arrows. ↑ ↑ ↑
Patrick Troughton’s Doctor retains similar styling to his previous incarnation— dark suits, contrasting plaid pants, though he loses the vest and the tie is more modern. In color segments, we can see the Second Doctor apparently made bolder choices with his pants than his previous self. He’s also less put-together and distinguished and more scruffy. This reflects the incarnation’s personality: more childlike, faster-paced, and closer to the silliness we’ve come to expect. The Second Doctor enjoys playing the recorder and has an affinity for various headgear, like the distinctive stovepipe hat he sports in early stories when outdoors. This Doctor is a confusing mix for me with so many elements of his previous self thrown together haphazardly to reflect the change in personality. Gone are the ways this look was sophisticated to make room for “cosmic hobo” chic. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great either. I give this look two up arrows. ↑ ↑
Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, the first to be broadcast in color, is an ornate dresser. He sports shirts with frilled sleeves and or collars, velvet smoking jackets, formal boots or dress shoes, a cape, and accessorizing with a bowtie or cravat and occasionally leather gloves. His color pallet includes the primaries, plus black and burgundy. And his apartment smells of rich mahogany. Take into account the spy-fi adventures by which Three’s tenure is characterized, and I feel like this just works. Even though the frills make him a bit on the Austin Powers side, I have to say that I love this look. If anyone can pull off ruffles and still seem badass, it’s the Doctor. This should be absolutely ridiculous, but sometimes something is just so wrong that it’s right. The Doctor’s charisma makes this work. This dapper Doctor pulls his outfits together so well, that I give him four up arrows. ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
Tom Baker’s Doctor is known for his iconic, comically long scarf of many colors. I give him credit for making a statement, but all of Four is such a fashion faux pas. The Fourth Doctor is known for being whimsical and occasionally getting super angry. This look definitely takes whimsy to a new level, with clashing patterns abound. This outfit rightfully signals: this guy is unpredictable. In some ways, that’s the right choice for the Doctor. I think this, like my punk/goth stage in my teens, was essential to the Doctor’s fashion growth. This impractically long multi-colored scarf is important. He pulls it off and though a ridiculous accessory, it never seems to hinder him during an adventure. Impracticality in fashion is a good thing for the Doctor, and this look is original; not reminiscent of anyone but the Doctor. I do give him credit for such a memorable choice. Regardless, I think this outfit is kind of a train wreck. I give it one up arrow. ↑
Peter Davidson’s Doctor really changes up the color pallet. Gone are the dark colors we’ve seen with previous incarnations— Five ushers in light colors, befitting of his vulnerable, sensitive, reserved nature. He wears red striped trousers, a red-trimmed camel-colored coat, a question mark oxford, and a v-neck sweater vest. Like Four before him, Five has an iconic accessory: a sprig of celery on his lapel. As if it wasn’t bad enough. With the matching red-trimmed hat, Four looks like Orville Redenbacher or Colonel Sanders. This lighter look certainly reflects Five’s pacifist beliefs, but to me it’s like, too much khaki. It makes the Doctor look like a weenie. As for the celery, even the Doctor (Ten) made fun of this later. It’s certainly silly, which we appreciate in the Doctor, but celery is such an unlovable vegetable. This prepster tennis look isn’t doing it for me. I give this look one up arrow. ↑
Colin Baker’s Doctor continues his previous incarnations horrible fashion choice to wear question marks on his collar. This outfit has way more to worry about than that, though. It features a red plaid coat with two different colored lapels and an oversized polka-dot cravat. Six is an extremely confident Doctor, and really, you’d have to be to attempt to pull off this outfit. He is also characterized by mood swings and outbursts. That volatile nature is reflected in this loud, unexpected fashion statement. Six takes full advantage of the colors being broadcast on screen and wears like all of them at once. I do give him credit for color blocking before it was cool, but this garish outfit makes it easy to forget that he’s a trendsetter. No doubt the Doctor regrets pulling together this ensemble. In a single color pallet, this outfit is more appropriate— think: the blue version that we see popularized today. This get-up earns one up arrow from me. ↑
Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor is another fashion disaster. Again, we see the red question marks embroidered on his collar. Are you the Riddler? No, you’re the Doctor! Stop it. Seven wears a safari jacket, panama hat, a red paisley scarf or tie, a fob watch chained to his lapel, and a yellow sweater covered in question marks (UGH!) and, because that wasn’t enough to ruin a sweater, blue-green zigzags. It’s like Seven had a fashion relapse and decided his last three incarnations were real sharp dressers, deciding to mix them together into a monstrosity amalgamation. The sweaters aren’t working for me. The brimmed hats aren’t good. Instead of growing out of the question marks, we’ve added more? Goodness no. I do think the watch works. It’s kind of Alice in Wonderland quirky that I find befitting of the Doctor. Seven is kind of a showman and a buffoon, and I think this attire accomplishes that well. This is my least favorite look and gets one up arrow from me. ↑
Paul McGann’s Doctor has completed fashion rehab. The Eighth Doctor is sort of a back to basics look, in Victorian attire and a more muted, gray color pallet. I breathe a sigh of relief. Eight is wonderfully eccentric and displays his unique brand of intelligence, and a depth of character essential to the Doctor, who of course has lived many lives. This debonair look is a manifestation of the old soul the Doctor truly is. He’s able to pull off that ridiculously big cravat and I guess, tie tack? The vest is great; he looks like he’s going to prom. He looks like the phantom of the opera. This look works. The Doctor can be himself and look dignified, not ridiculous. It lacks a bit of the silliness we appreciate, but I can live with it. Let’s say, three up arrows for this one. ↑ ↑ ↑
Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is a renegade with a bold new look for a rebooted Doctor Who. Complete with leather jacket, simple tee shirt, and a dark color pallet come together in this rebellious look. It’s new, it’s youthful, and it is risky. In this case, the risk was well worth it. Adding edgy to eccentric really works for the Doctor. Perhaps truly for the first time, we view the Doctor as a badass. Nine lives in the present and experiences pain and joy as they strike him. This leather jacket look helps in making the Ninth Doctor desirable. He’s not a grandfather here, he’s an object of Rose’s affection. This styling is so different for the Doctor, but it really works for me. I guess I should also mention that this is the first Doctor this face saw, but it actually took me a while to warm up to him. I did though! I give this look four up arrows. ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
David Tennant’s Doctor wins my pick for best-dressed Doctor. (He actually wins everything with me.) Ten is typically clad in navy and brown. He wears a pinstripe suit and tie, Converse sneakers, and occasionally, tortoise-shell glasses. Although dark in hue, it’s not black or gray we see him in— navy and brown, a particular look that draws on natural tones, and a staunch look while still being extremely polished. The glasses suit the look and are a fairly functional prop, adding an intellectual element. The sneakers are the real winners here, though. They take this polished look and add the element of youth, of fun, of adventure. Add the trench coat we see Ten in from time to time and we see him as an inquisitive investigator. I am such a huge, huge fan of this look. It gives me an Indiana Jones crossed with James Bond. To me, this is so quintessentially the Doctor. For the fast-talking, funny, smart, and curious Ten, this is perfect. Like I said, this is my favorite look! Four up arrows! ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
Matt Smith’s Doctor, in many ways, is the perfect example of Doctor fashion. Quirkiness and silliness meets a certain level of sophistical and a very deliberate sense of style with Eleven’s garb. He dons a brown tweed coat with elbow patches, suspenders, and a bow tie. I completely agree with Eleven: bow ties are cool. I’m not entirely sure about the Fez, but if anyone should attempt to pull this off it’s the Doctor. A dress shirt pulls this look up from raggedy and makes Eleven the hipster Doctor. Ah hipster ironic fashion, you so do it for me. Eleven’s been poppin’ some tags and I’m on board. This look is impulsive, and patched together. Eleven has a big personality— energetic and a bit awkward, but still kind of cool. This attire reflects that well, toeing the line between ridiculous and fashionable. It deserves four up arrows. ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
Peter Capaldi’s Doctor wears a fairly conservative dark suit with red lining. This signals surprises to me. The Doctor is not dull, and this flair of red serves as a reminder of the pop of personality in store for us. He wears a crisp white shirt with no tie— a neat, clean, pressed look. The best part of this ensemble is the shoes. On his feet are Doc Martin combat boots, functional shoes that truly make a statement. (That statement is: I’m here to kick some ass.) Capaldi calls his look simple and stark; “No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 percent Rebel Time Lord.” I’m excited about how much I like this outfit. I give it four up arrows out of anticipation. ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
So there you have it, folks!
You tell me: who is the best dressed Doctor?
And before you go…
Bonus: The War Doctor
John Hurt’s War Doctor wears a distressed leather jacket over Eight’s Victorian waistcoat. He completes his look with a short scarf. I dig this look, which is something reminiscent of steam punk with all the brass buttons. I’m giving it four up arrows! ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑