15 DW Doctor Costumes Ranked (with special guest Designer Kerby Young)

Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer

After months of speculation on May 8, 2022 it was announced that Rwandan-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa of Sex Education fame would be the fourteenth incarnation of the character The Doctor from long-running Sci Fi series Doctor Who.

And one of the first things fans have speculated on was, “What’s his costume going to look like?”

To nipples or not to nipples. That is the question

So while I and my fellow Whovians have a little wait before Gatwa’s costume is revealed, it is the perfect time to take a look back at some of the looks from the previous incarnations.

And since my knowledge of style is limited to what I learned on TLC’s What Not to Wear (loved that show) I decided to bring in some expert help with Trinidad-based Guyanese designer Kerby Young. He knows nothing about the series so he will be strictly rating on the style aspect, while I will be rating on how well the costume worked for the incarnation’s personality. The scores will be totaled and then a ranking given.

Designer Kerby Young

We’ll kick things off with an opening overall statement statement from Kerby. Take it away!

Kerby Young: I have no idea who Doctor Who is. And based on the fact that it’s Sci Fi, even worse. I don’t think I could name even one or two Sci Fi flicks. Some of the things that stood out for me are some of the references you would get from the clothing. For example, in terms of colour a lot of them have a red or burgundy hue in it, or blue or green. And those colours symbolise ambition and power. So it starts to create a character in my head as to who Doctor Who probably is. On the patterns, there is a lot of plaid in it, which has a prestige. There’s velvet, also prestige. We have the trench coat, which is meant to camouflage. So Doctor Who is someone who has some amount of status within a community or, if not, he has those things to fit in to the community to blend in.

Editor Jules Again: Close. As an alien he is an outsider, so he does try to blend in with humanity, with varying results. And he is usually the smartest person in the room, lending to the prestige. But you, dear reader, are not here to read us prattle on. You want the list! So with a SPOILER ALERT here is our completely subjective ranking of 15 Doctor Who Doctor costumes:

#10 Sixth Doctor-Colin Baker

KERBY YOUNG: This is the vagrant that would have dressed up on Carnival Tuesday. They received all these items of clothes from different individuals and they are going to put it aside and wear it on a special day, and what day is more special than Carnival Tuesday because you know everybody wines (gyrates) on them. This is just too much going on. We have plaid mixed with stripes mixed with texture. Just too much happening.

Score: 4 out of 10

EDITOR JULES: If someone ate a rainbow of cotton candy and vomited all over a medieval court jester then you might end up with the Sixth Doctor’s costume. With the schizophrenic mismatching it is both an assault on the eyes and fashion, and another reason to dislike the earlier adventures of my least favourite Doctor. Poor Colin Baker reportedly wanted a darker costume to match his darker take on the character, but they went in the entirely opposite direction leading to easily the worst costume in the franchise history.

Score: 1 out of 10 (I would give it a zero if I could)

Total Score: 5

#9 Seventh Doctor-Sylvester McCoy

KY: I like the fact he has an umbrella that basically is branded with a question mark for the handle. It draws some attention when you have it there and on the sweater. He has so many patterns going on, though. He was probably wearing a hat because he was going bald or because of a receding hairline.

Score: 4 out of 10

EJ: The Seventh Doctor’s clownish antics hid a dark and calculating personality. But this costume? Somebody took the subtle question marks on the lapels of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Doctors and went crazy! That tan question mark sweater vest, topped off with a question mark handle on his umbrella, is just ugly and the entire ensemble feels thrown together.

Score: 3 out of 10

Total Score: 7 (what a coinkidink)

#8 Fifth Doctor-Peter Davison

KY: He looks like he is working in a circus and he is the ringmaster. Can you picture anybody wearing that in any era? He is wacky. And that stripe is horrible. Why the stripe and then a piped trench coat? The colours also make him look washed out.

Score: 5 out of 10

EJ: Anyone up for a spot of cricket? No? The charming, exuberant Fifth Doctor was one of my favourites but I was not a fan of his tan, striped look. The most interesting thing was the stalk of celery on his left breast (you can’t see it in the picture there) but other than that just dull and bland.

Score: 3 out of 10

Total Score: 8

#7 War Doctor-John Hurt

KY: When I saw him it took me to vagrant in the bush. If you see someone like this you would step back because they look like they have an odor. It looks like a genuine leather jacket and some people pay a lot of money to get this type of ragged jacket. His waist coat is heavier than the jacket and the studs, which you would use in something like armour. He’s a stylish vagrant, like he took something from everybody.

Score: 5 out of 10

EJ: If you had spent years fighting in a war across time and space you’d probably look like the War Doctor. The steampunk, post-apocalyptic look is as weathered as he was, fitting the character perfectly. Not the most fashionable look, but then again it was never meant to be.

Score: 6.5 out of 10

Total Score: 11.5

Three-Way Tie for #6 Second Doctor-Patrick Troughton

KY: What I saw first was his hairstyle which reminded me of the Three Stooges (Moe specifically). It is giving more funny character than anything else. Things seem to be coordinated. And he pays attention to detail with the little bow tie and the little ring on his finger.

Score: 7 out of 10

EJ: Few of the incarnation’s costumes matched their personality as closely as the Second Doctor. With his baggy patterned trousers, askew bow tie and overall dumpy look he presented as the lovable clown/tramp that he was. He is not in danger of winning any fashion awards but it worked for him.

Score: 5 out of 10

Total Score: 12

Three-Way Tie for #6 Ninth Doctor-Christopher Eccleston

KY: Oversized jacket is a thing, though not my personal style, and underneath the clothing is his size. It’s a look that someone in our time could wear. I would have done something different with the shoe to bring it up a bit. Not that fudge-looking shoe.

Score: 6 out of 10

EJ: After the flambouyant outfits of his predecessors the Ninth Doctor took thing back to basics with his leather jacket and all black ensemble. And all that dark clothing suited the haunted, post-Time War Doctor. A cool look, if not an outstanding one.

Score: 6 out of 10

Total Score: 12

Three-Way Tie For #6 Tenth Doctor-David Tennant

KY: This is giving me, “I live with my mother, I’m 35 and she says I have to find a job. This is my dad’s suit and his trench coat and I am wearing this to go to my interview. I do not own a pair of shoes so I have to put this on.” I do not like this at all. The jacket has four buttons, which means the fit has to be really good. And that is not fitting him well.

Score: 5 out of 10

EJ: The Tenth Doctor is my second favourite incarnation (Tom Baker is the GOAT) so I may be a little biased on this one, but I loved the trench coat-over-the-suit-and-trainers look (trainers for all that running, of course). It said formal but fun, wise but wacky. He almost blended in but was just a little off. Good times.

Score: 7 out of 10

Total Score: 12

Two-Way Tie For #5 Twelfth Doctor-Peter Capaldi

KY: I would wear this look but I would just tailor it a little bit. The length of the pants is longer than the modern style, which would be just above the ankle. And the shoe goes with what he’s wearing. He looks evil though.

Score: 7 out of 10

EJ: The Twelfth Doctor was an older, more serious take on the character, and this magician-esque costume said maturity and sobriety with a little flair (the red lining on the jacket). Not my favourite costume but it’s okay.

Score: 6 out of 10

Total Score: 13

Two-Way Tie For #5 Thirteenth Doctor-Jodie Whittaker

KY: With me it’s all about fit and flair. A woman likes to know when you look at her you see her beauty radiating. I love the colour combination in this, nice earth tones and greenish blue. I love the trench coat and the length of the pants where they kind of break it up. The detailing of the shoe and the fact she has socks with it. I really like this.

Score: 9 out of 10

EJ: Somebody call Mork because his look has been stolen. Yeah, I’m not a fan of this outfit. The Thirteenth Doctor (the current incarnation) was bubbly and youthful enough, she didn’t need to dress like a ten-year-old. Or rather an art-loving lady on her way to a sip and paint with her Bohemian girlfriends. I preferred the oversized coat from her announcement video, which would have been a nice contrast to her fam-loving antics.

Score: 4 out of 10

Total Score: 13 (another coinkidink)

#4 Eleventh Doctor-Matt Smith

KY: When I look at him Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory came to mind, just a cooler version. I would not have done that shoe, it looks nasty. And I don’t know why he rolled up the pants. That is not making sense. But everything else fits okay.

Score: 7 out of 10

EJ: The Eleventh Doctor did a great job of the centuries-old man in a young man’s body. And his outfit represents that old soul style, with the bowtie (they are cool) and tweed jacket. Of all the looks this is probably the only one I would wear.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Total Score: 14.5

#3 Fourth Doctor-Tom Baker

KY: As a designer, if an artiste or whoever approaches me to do something for them, remember (the outfit) is their identity. So when persons see them wearing certain things it’s supposed to give off a certain vibe. So you would know how to approach this person. If the person has funky colours you know they are free spirited and approachable. And if the person is wearing something that is very structured, contoured, black or a solid colour then you know that person is more serious.

I think based on this I am getting a kind of wacky character, fun and he looks like he will make you laugh. And I like the little bell bottom shoe with the pants. It looks really good. It looks like a finished look.

Score: 7 out of 10

EJ: The Fourth Doctor is both my all-time favourite incarnation (I may have mentioned that before) and one of my favourite outfits. With his hat, hobo-chic suit and oversized (and surprisingly utilitarian) scarf Tom Baker’s just screamed wild, wacky adventure. And that’s just what we got.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Total Score: 15.5

Three Way Tie For #2 Third Doctor-Jon Pertwee

KY: He gives me Wizard of Oz type of finish; he has the answers but there is some amount of mystery and magic. I like it. And it looks expensive, with the detailing. And the coat and the pants match.

Score: 8 out of 10

EJ: The First Doctor was spot on when he called the Third Doctor a dandy. So stylish and fancy, he definitely made a statement with his outfits. A bit much for my personal style, but I ain’t mad at him. And the clothes were still flexible enough to do Venusian Akido. Hi-ya!

Score: 8 out of 10

Total Score: 16

Three-Way Tie for #2 First Doctor-William Hartnell

KY: I love his style. I am seeing the era that he is in. You can tell that he is a man that has his things. He has his cattle and he has his prostitutes (escandaloso). The character and the look suits the period as opposed to having someone who just dressed off.

Score: 9 out of 10

EJ: The First Doctor was wise and crotchety, and his serious outfit gave me stern Texas oil man. All business, no time for shenanigans.

Score: 7 out of 10

Total Score: 16

Three-Way Tie for #2 Fugitive Doctor-Jo Martin

KY: Keeping with the theme of jacket and waist coat/armour is kind of cool. I like the fact that they incorporated a little bit of culture in it being that it’s a black woman and you’re seeing the little African print happening. But it still has what we have come to expect from the Doctor Who character. This look is really trying to be inclusive of her culture so it is a little more relevant. It doesn’t look like a black woman trying to dress like a European.

Score: 7 out of 10

EJ: From the moment Jo Martin was revealed as an incarnation of The Doctor in the episode Fugitive of the Judoon she commanded the room and nailed the confidence, dry humour and smartest man woman in the room attitude. And this is solidified when we see her later in her costume, with its vibrant inner blouse under a severe denim two-piece with studs for days. It seems historical but fresh and modern, and just really cool. I like it a lot.

Score: 9 out of 10

Total Score: 16

#1 Eighth Doctor-Paul McGann

KY: This is giving me Bridgerton all over again which is known for the fashion and the fanfare. I love this. This is something I can see being worn even now. It would be considered a period piece and very high end. You could wear this to an awards show or the Met Gala (depending on the theme) and you would make a statement.

Score: 9 out of 10

EJ: The Eighth Doctor was the sole redeeming aspect about the train wreck that was the 1996 Doctor Who movie. Paul McGann was all class and charm and his impeccable period outfit perfectly fit that.

Score: 8 out of 10

Total Score: 17

So that’s our ranking. Which of these looks is your favourite? Which is your least favourite? A very special thanks to Kerby for helping out.

About Kerby Young

The TT-based Guyanese designer began in the fashion industry in Guyana in 2005 and his first show was called Colours of the Caribbean. He has described his aesthetic as “colourful, Caribbean, easy-breezy type of garments”. He migrated to TT in 2008 and started developing his skills in makeup, photography and jewellery-making.

In 2016 he produced The Art Gallery: Where Art Comes Alive a show that combined visual art, fashion and music. In 2017 he launched KYD (Kerby Young Designs) Magazine, which he described as another hub for creatives and an avenue for exposure. He then began the video series KYD Magazine Fashion Essentials, which featured creatives and promoted their work. In 2021 he launched the “Island Boy” clothing capsule.

For more on Kerby you can check him out on social media, kerbyyoungdesigns on Instagram and Facebook.

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.

And you can check out more great Doctor Who lists below:

TOP 6 DW DOCTORS THAT NEED TO COME BACK
FIVE DOCTOR WHO COMPANIONS THAT SHOULD NEVER, EVER RETURN
TOP 5 WAYS TO TRIGGER A DOCTOR WHO FAN