The Doctor Who costume worn by the Seventh Doctor has topped a ranking from The Guardian‘s senior fashion writer.
The Dream Lord may have likened the Doctor’s attire to something from the mind of a first year fashion student, but his wardrobe choices have found the approval of The Guardian, who placed the seventh Doctor Who costume at the top of her rankings. Indeed, Guardian writer Lauren Cochrane noted that Sylvester McCoy’s outfit has “all the playful madcap maximalism of late 80s style,” adding that his iconic sweater vest “could easily find a place on the Gucci catwalk today.”
And whilst we’ve never considered the Lovarzi shop as a destination worthy of Gucci aficionados, we’ll gladly accept the compliment. And should you want to rock the question mark tank top for some madcap 80s maximalism (on the catwalk or otherwise) you can find it in our online store, along with the Seventh Doctor’s Paisley hanky, and of course his classic Paisley scarf and question mark umbrella.
But you may be interested to know how the other Doctor Who costumes fared? Well, The Guardian sided with the villainous Dream Lord when it came to the Eleventh Doctor’s attire, saying that he “resembled a cross between the lost fifth member of the Libertines and a cartoon mad scientist.”
Of course, it depends on how you’re judging this particular Doctor Who costume. The fact that the Doctor had a perverse definition as to what passed as “cool” was a running joke, and indeed the Eleventh Doctor himself said that “cool was not cool.” This Doctor Who costume was never meant to grace the catwalk, but was instead meant to be the perfect expression of the Time Lord’s eccentricity.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that the Eleventh Doctor’s fashion choices did have something of a cultural impact, with Tweed, braces and bow ties increasing in popularity after his 2010 debut, and not just among cosplayers. Slowly but surely, this Doctor Who costume was challenging the very definition of cool.
But what about the other outfits in The Guardian’s piece? Well, you may be surprised to see that the Sixth Doctor’s outfit ranked highly, coming in at an impressive fifth place out of 14. Over the years, this Doctor Who costume has received much criticism, with Colin Baker himself saying that one of the best things about his outfit was that he didn’t have to look at it. Similarly, his companion Peri warned him in ‘The Twin Dilemma‘ that “he couldn’t go out dressed like that” as he would “look dreadful.” Ouch.
But Cochrane was rather more forgiving when it came to the Sixth Doctor’s attire, acknowledging that whilst it had once been described as an explosion in a rainbow factory, it was in fact “very fashion friendly,” noting that “patchwork is something of a trend in 2023.” The Doctor of 1985, it seems, was somewhat ahead of his time – quite appropriate for a Time Lord.
He was, however, beaten by the Thirteenth Doctor in this particular Doctor Who costume rank, with Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation snagging the fourth spot. Whittaker, you will remember, donned a long grey overcoat with a rainbow lining, along with rolled-up turquoise trousers, yellow braces, and a rainbow-emblazoned sweater (plus an occasional rainbow scarf.) Rainbow patterns, it seems, are an important factor for The Guardian, and indeed they are certainly in vogue at the time of writing, although Cochrane notes that these multi-coloured stripes are more reminiscent of the Fourth Doctor’s iconic scarf. More on that later.
Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor Who costume, meanwhile, took third place in The Guardian’s countdown. And arguably, his outfit was one of the simpler, more timeless concoctions, comprising a sweater, leather jacket and jeans. There’s a simplicity to it, with evocations of a weathered traveller, although Cochrane says that she feels the outfit could have been inspired by the Matrix movies of the early 00s, whose protagonist (Neo) wore a similar combination of clothes. Although, of course, Neo’s jacket was a leather trench coat, whereas the Ninth Doctor’s is more like a bomber jacket.
After Eccleston comes the Fourth Doctor’s costume, complete with the famous 18 ft. scarf. This is undoubtedly the most famous of the Doctor Who costumes, and indeed when many people think of Doctor Who today, one of the first things that comes to mind is Tom Baker and his oversized apparel. This iconic fashion choice graced our screens for some seven years between 1975 and 1981, and even today its legacy is felt; the Doctor’s scarf was famously worn by in-universe cosplayer Doctor Petronella Osgood from UNIT and – more recently – by the Master in ‘The Power of the Doctor.’
But what about the many other Doctor Who costumes that have shown up over the years? Undoubtedly, The Guardian’s list is not an exhaustive one, as few of the Doctors strictly stuck to the same set of clothes throughout their runs. The Eleventh Doctor, for example, perhaps had the most variations of them all, with multiple Tweed jackets in a variety of styles, along with various bow ties, waistcoats, and even a short-lived suede trench coat and Stetson. Plus, how could we forget the classic Fez and mop look from ‘The Big Bang’?
And then there are the other Doctors who didn’t make it onto the list. The War Doctor, for instance, was a Time Lord very much geared for combat with his Doctor Who costume tailored for more practical use than personal expression. In contrast, we have the stylist outfit donned by Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor, which incorporated a brightly-coloured blouse and an overcoat reminiscent of something worn in the British Navy.
And whilst we may never know how The Guardian would rate these particular pieces, it’s pleasing to see that Ncuti Gatwa’s costume is already making the cut, with Cochrane particularly impressed with the Fifteenth Doctor’s double-breasted suit which is due to feature in the upcoming 60s episode.
But over to you, internet. Where would you rank Sylvester McCoy’s iconic Doctor Who costume, and all the others? And which is your favourite of all time? Let me know in the comments below.
Read The Guardian’s complete Doctor Who costume rank here.