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The Clock Strikes Twelve : Regeneration of an outfit

The face may change, so may the hair, the clothing, and the accent, but the Doctor is always the Doctor.

The full outfit revealed! (c) BBC
The full outfit revealed!
(c) BBC

It’s been a good few weeks since the reveal of Peter Capaldi’s signature outfit as the Doctor, and the now that the fans have had time to get used to the idea of it, it seems there is somewhat of Marmite-like divide of opinion.

(c) Radio Times
(c) Radio Times

For me, the first thing that came to mind was the Third Doctor, John Pertwee.  I was first arrested by the similarities in both the pose and the dark-coloured outfit resplendent with bright red lining. Alright, so Pertwee favoured the full dandy, complete with frilled shirt and cloak, whereas Capaldi’s Doctor appears very much the modern businessman in dress sense. According to the BBC, the look was created by Howard Burden, and Capaldi is quoted as saying:

 [Burden has] woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics,” … “No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.” (Source)

As a long-time fan of the series, Capaldi – who wrote into the Radio Times as a child in praise of the show – could well be making references to at least two of the Doctor’s previous regenerations: Tom Baker’s Doctor was famous for his brightly-coloured and exceedingly long scarf, and as previously mentioned Jon Pertwee’s Doctor was all about the frills and dandy. There also seems to be a hint of Christopher Eccleston’s ninth Doctor’s internalised anger in Capaldi’s expression, and a slight carelessness to his body movement (note the coat seemingly flung aside).

Do Three plus Nine equal Twelve? Images (c) BBC
Do Three plus Nine equal Twelve?
Images (c) BBC

Capaldi’s outfit, in brief breakdown, consists of the following:

  • The Crombie Coat”, navy blue wool. Allegedly designed specifically for the BBC by the company. (Source)
  • Crombie navy blue merino cardigan.
  • Crombie “Tommy Nutter” cotton poplin shirt.
  • Doc Martins “Bentley” Brogues.
  • Alexander McQueen wool and mohair navy blue trousers.
    (Source for breakdown)

Personally, I really like this look: clean-cut, but with the hint that he’s not going to be a soft touch (that red, and those boots). However, not everyone is on board with the look, and here is where the Marmite-like divide occurs. Many fans of the show feel that by virtue of the simplicity of his suit, Capaldi’s Doctor lacks the special ‘something’, that marks him as The Doctor. Even if one has only watched the modern incarnation of the show, it would be difficult to mistake Eccleston’s worn leather jacket, Tennant’s trenchcoat or Converse boots (for all the running the Doctor does), or Smith’s archetypical bow-tie.

Of course, looking further back, the Doctor had many iconic items of wardrobe: Pertwee’s previously-mentioned cloak and ruffles; Tom Baker’s multicoloured scarf of longness; Peter Davidson’s cricket jumper and celery stalk; Colin Baker’s technicolour dreamcoat; McCoy’s question-mark sweater-vest and matching umbrella; Paul McGann’s waistcoat and jabot. All of these things, whether small or large, give the viewer something to hook on, something for cosplayers to exploit. In short, these somewhat gimmicky quirks ensure the Doctor is easily recognised in whatever medium he is displayed in, up to and including parodies.

Peter Capaldi’s Doctor lacks these quirks, and though it could be argued a bright-red-lined coat and a cardie could be classed as quirky, it seems that for many fans it is not a step far enough in the right direction. There is concern that this regeneration will be too ‘stern’, too stoic, lacking the alien qualities that often bring a touch of humour to dire situations.

In researching Peter Capaldi’s look and the dissent within the fandom it has wrought, I spoke with Amber Valravn of Valravn Designs as she is not impressed with the outfit chosen.  In her own words, Amber explained to me her opinion on the reveal of the new Doctor’s “Look”:

I would have liked to see a little more quirkiness in there, partly because I feel it is one of the things I love most about the Doctor and partly because I AM one of those people who is afraid we are going to lose a lot of the warmth, humour, and utter ridiculosity with Capaldi and the first official image of him did little to calm my worries.

What are your thoughts on Capaldi’s outfit? What sort of Doctor do you think we might get from this seasoned actor? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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