Sartorial Elegance: 13 Ways the Doctor’s Looked “A Bit Weird”

Jodie Whitaker’s new look as the 13th Doctor is out, and — well, people have opinions. Some love it and are churning out fanart, while others aren’t quite convinced yet. Regardless of opinion, it seems the Doctor’s new outfits have always raised a few eyebrows at first glance. Remember when these style choices were new and strange?


First Doctor: The Hair


William Hartnell’s Doctor dressed as one might expect a time-traveling genius to dress — but the hair was an addition to ramp up the character’s age a bit. Hartnell himself had a fairly sedate ‘do, with the wig complementing the look and adding to the fact that this old man of the universe was of indeterminate age and time period. Nowadays we’re used to it, but the series’s first star must have cut a strange figure to audiences when he first appeared on their screen.


Second Doctor: This Hat

There was no internet back in 1966 on which people could post regeneration hot takes, but this might have made the list. Troughton’s Doctor bounced back from regeneration with an affinity for hats, and claimed this crumpled stovepipe early on. But it fell out of favor, and he “lost” it within three serials.


Third Doctor: Your Granddad’s Clothes

With the Third Doctor, Doctor Who rocketed into an era of action, color, and LOTS AND LOTS OF SCIENCE. Jon Pertwee, literal secret agent and potential James Bond inspiration, made it cool for the Doctor to fight his own battles. And he did it all in a frilly shirt and velvet jacket. And sometimes a cape. And while his ensemble might be someone’s worst nightmare at a wedding reception, he made it look cool.


Fourth Doctor: An Accidental Scarf

The Fourth Doctor’s stripey, overlong scarf is a symbol of the show nowadays, to the point that you even have one in your closet. But the insane length was purely accidental, as the creator of said scarf wasn’t sure how long it was meant to be and just used up all the yarn she was given. Thus, the tall Bohemian was wrapped up in twelve feet (thirteen if you count the tassels) of muffler, which stretched significantly over the course of his tenure.


Fifth Doctor: Decorative Vegetable

The youngest actor (at the time) ever to play the role, Fifth Doctor Peter Davison was the picture of sunny English life decked out in cricket gear. That in itself isn’t terribly strange — for the Doctor it’s downright mundane — but tack on a leafy green and now we’re talking. In story terms, the odd accessory could allegedly detect Praxis gases or test airflow with its sensitive leaves. In aesthetic terms… it just looks a bit odd. And yet, three and a bit decades later, we wear our own when we cosplay.

Incidentally, you can always hit up Peter Davison for questions about his role, his personal dislike for celery, or anything else you fancy if you register for our event this March! He’ll be one of our many guests… with many more to be announced.

For now, onward!


Sixth Doctor: Just… Everything

All Colin Baker wanted was a dark, slimming ensemble. You know, the exact opposite of what he got. The completely nonsensical mishmash of colors, fabrics, and accessories is beloved(?) by fans now, but it’s still an odd mark on the history of the show’s costume department. But Colin got his own back once or twice: he always wears a cat pin on his lapel to show his love for cats, and later action figures and flash animations showed him in a far more austere, blue version of his suit. Nice.


Seventh Doctor: Question Marks All the Way Down

To be fair, the minute Machiavelli was full of secrets — so if anyone deserves a question mark motif, it’s Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor. But even with the Cartmel Masterplan underway and tiny tidbits of the Doctor’s back story leaking through, the question marks on the jumper and umbrella seem a bit much. Their presence on his lapels for regenerations prior is still a source of contention among harder-core fans, but at least they were (comparatively) subtle.

Then again, when he reappeared in the 1996 TV movie with something more sedate, people weren’t fond of that either. We’re just never happy, are we?


Eighth Doctor: The Hair. Again.

There seems to be a quiet undercurrent of Doctors and dealings with wigs (we won’t go into Matt Smith’s personal adventure… for now). Eighth Doctor Paul McGann notoriously did not get along with his movie coiffure, and fans also noticed that it didn’t seem quite as legit as his real hair. Truth is, he arrived at the audition with a full head of curls, then shaved them off for a role in Alien 3 once the casting department had fallen in love with the long-haired look. Fortunately, when he arrived again in Night of the Doctor, he was definitely there with his own hair.


War Doctor: The Hair???

There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to the late great John Hurt’s performance as the War Doctor. Though leading up to Day of the Doctor, many people were confused by Granddad’s little faux-hawk. An odd style choice? Maybe. But one that made absolutely no difference because we were all too busy having emotions.


Ninth Doctor: Too Normal

More proof that we’re never satisfied. When photos came out of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper as the Ninth Doctor and Rose, many fans were put off. Why? Because they looked “normal.” 9 in his leather jacket and combat boots didn’t ring the same bells as the Victorian gentlemen and cricketers and… whatever the hecks… of the past. But it only took a few moments for this Doctor’s personality to shine through, and his working-class look matched his persona perfectly.


Tenth Doctor: When He Just Changed Suits

If you ever want a good scrap, go to a party and ask who liked the blue suit. For some reason it’s extremely divisive. But that could be because, at least in the modern era, it was the first example of the Doctor just up and changing a major part of his costume prominently. The Ninth Doctor swapped jumpers occasionally, but the change from brown suit to blue signaled an era when the Doctor began sticking more to aesthetic than to specific articles of clothing.


Eleventh Doctor: We as a Fandom Are Obsessed with Hair

Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor brought bow ties back into style, and his fixation on hats became a running gag. But nothing hit the fandom quite as hard as his flippy hair. (Well, with the exception of his age, making him the youngest actor ever to play the Doctor). Showrunner Steven Moffat made an especial point of pointing out his love for Smith’s hair and wanting to preserve the look, and many were not pleased with the decision. Well, not until they saw him in action, anyway. So, floppy fringe is cool?


Twelfth Doctor: When He Was a Hobo for a Year

Peter Capaldi announced his Twelfth Doctor as being “100% Rebel Time Lord.” And with a look pulling largely from the 80s Scottish punk scene and David Bowie’s Thin White Duke character, that flew for quite a while. Eventually, though, he began changing up his wardrobe to integrate plaid pants, hoodies, and distressed vintage shirts — all while maintaining his brightly-lined Crombies, of course. The two looks have little in common, but both seem to suit the rebellious Gallifreyan.


As for how Whitaker wears her costume and what changes it goes through… we’ll just have to wait and see!

Want to hang out with more Whovians and discuss your favorite aspects of Doctor Who? Register for (Re)Generation Who now and join us in Baltimore this March! We’re welcoming Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, Michelle Gomez (Missy), Terry Molloy (Davros), and many more soon to be announced!

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