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Doctor Who: the secret fashion details we need to watch out for

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Kayleigh Dray
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Doctor Who costume

Jodie Whittaker has revealed the inspiration behind the 13th Doctor’s costume.

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of different actors step into the role of the Doctor in BBC One’s Doctor Who – and each has brought something very different to the role. The very First Doctor, played by William Hartnell, was an unreadable, guarded figure with a short temper. Tom Baker’s Fourth was eccentric and charming, while the Eighth (Paul McGann) was romantic, optimistic and endlessly cheerful. 

More recently, we have had Christopher Ecclestone’s battle-hardened and emotionally-scarred Ninth, David Tennant’s Tenth – whose bright and playful attitude belied a darker side – and Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth, a manipulative, practical and sarcastic incarnation of the Tardis-travelling alien.

It makes sense, then, that the costume department at Doctor Who have used fashion to outwardly reflect the personalities of each Time Lord, too. When you close your eyes and picture Baker’s incarnation, you immediately see that long stripy scarf. Ecclestone’s Doctor is his battered leather jacket. And Tennant’s Converse and pin-striped suit became iconic when he stepped into that famous blue box all those years ago.

Now, though, it is time for a woman to take the helm. So what will Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor bring to the table – and how will her costume reflect this?

Well, we most likely will not find out much about the 13th Doctor until Sunday 7 October, when Whittaker will appear on our screens as the Time Lord for the first time, bringing all of her own unique traits to the role. 

However, in her first broadcast interview (which took place with BBC Radio 6), the actress has explained that she worked closely with costume designers to ensure she got as much of her character into the 13th Doctor’s wardrobe as possible… which means that there could be some clues to be found there.

“It was really collaborative. More so than any other job,” Whittaker explained. “Not because you don’t get a say on anything else, but because if you’re doing something that’s 18th century, I’m not going to rock in and be like, I’ve got this great idea! I wanna wear Converse’.

“Like, I’ve got no knowledge [in that situation]. There’s a certain mood, like with Beth Latimer [in Broadchurch], you have to look like you’re from a certain place and a certain time. But the wonderful thing about The Doctor is that you don’t have any of those rules.”

Whittaker continued to point out the not-so-secret symbolism hidden within her outfit, which is sure to be of interest to die-hard Doctor Who fans.

“For me, the most important thing was the use of colour,” she recalled. “Different aspects of the blues to represent the sky. So, the inside lining of the coat is like space and the outside is like [daytime] sky. Things like that!”

Even more important than the use of colour, though, was Whittaker’s desire for the costume to be practical – and unisex.

“I loved referencing the worlds that you’re coming from into the costume, but then it needed to be comfortable,” she said, pointing out that most heroic characters tend to wear “sweaty” costumes which look like they’ve taken an hour to get into.

“Mine is really comfy, and comfy for anyone — boy or girl,” she added wryly. “Shock, horror!”

We have a feeling we will be seeing a fair few people in blue T-shirts, braces, boots and trousers this Halloween.

Image: BBC One

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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