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Amongst numerous other staples of change in Doctor Who is always the incumbent incarnation’s newly selected attire. Along with TARDIS redesigns (primarily, the interior), remodelled sonic screwdrivers, and of course, the all important regenerations themselves, the latest iteration of the Time Lord’s chosen garb is an invariable source of excitement and fervent speculation.
Yesterday, an official press release finally revealed the Twelfth Doctor’s new duds to a salivating mass of fans. The general reaction seems to have been positive, though there are those who feel that the outfit lacks a certain pizzazz. For some it’s the seeming absence of any distinctive attribute that defines it as an ensemble which is truly Doctor-ish.
A number of fans have drawn comparisons to the Eleventh Doctor’s clothing, and the salient accessory that he repeatedly referred to as being “cool”. I am, of course, talking about the famous bow tie. Many have expressed the feeling that Capaldi’s outfit lacks a similarly singular feature to distinguish it. But it’s worth remembering that it was only because our attention was so often drawn to Eleven’s bow tie, since it was a frequent source of ridicule from others and affection from the man himself, that it became so imprinted in our perceptions as the item we associate most with him.
Previous Doctors have been adorned with items of clothing and even, once, vegetation, that are so outlandish as to be the overtly defining piece of their respective outfits, but it is not always the case. Often, it’s the entire ensemble that makes the man. Was it the Tenth Doctor’s trench coat that was the most distinguishing feature of his attire? Or was it the almost vacumm packed pinstripe suits? Or even the white/black/red Converse? Or was it the combination of all of the above and how attuned it was to the swashbuckling character of Tennant’s Doctor?
Capaldi’s outfit might not be as instantly striking to look at as some, but if Moffat’s recent comments about the Twelfth Doctor are to be believed, then it’s no surprise, and seems to have been designed as a visual summation of everything this latest incarnation will be; no nonsense; sterner than his predecessor; less whimsical.
With no accessory about the neck, and his buttons done all the way up to the top, Capaldi looks all the more imposing. He has no time for frills, scarves, or bow ties; he is an image of stark authority. The dark blue coat and cardigan create the image of an elder, austere gentleman; meanwhile the trousers and the boots retain elements of the rebellious, somewhat youthful disposition that is inherent to the Doctor’s character.
Whilst I certainly don’t begrudge others their right to dislike Capaldi’s outfit, I would urge any who feel this way to wait and see how the Twelfth Doctor wears it once we’ve been properly and lengthily acquainted with him, rather than going on how Capaldi wears it at present. The Doctor’s incarnation-specific traits usually informs the style of clothing he adheres to, so that his appearance becomes synonymous of his character over time, and I believe it will be no different in this instance.