William Hartnell was a man presented with the daunting task of launching an entirely new BBC television programme. Doctor Who was a totally unheard of entity when he became attached to the project and, as it naturally would, his portrayal became a key part of the show’s history and mythos.
His introduction in 1963’s “An Unearthly Child” created a lasting image of ‘The Doctor’ which remains in the public consciousness to this day. Even if people can’t remember his name, they’ll definitely know his ‘look’ as the Doctor.
Dressed in distinctive Edwardian-esque clothing (which would go on to inform many other costumes for various incarnations of the Time Lord) William Hartnell managed to embody the out-of-time other-worldliness of the Doctor with very little to go on in the way of source material.
Indeed, his costume so fitted the character that it’s easy to forget that the first Doctor was even wearing a ‘costume’ at all. The dark and sombre tones help to cement this look as one of formality, severity, and – indeed – spookiness.
This look takes a similar silhouette as the first and updates it for the 21st century. By taking away some of the more formal elements and substituting modern, more alternative pieces, this look creates a Tim Burton, Johnny Depp type of look which still maintains a vintage feel.
The use of a monochrome palette calls to mind the classic black and white eeriness the early series. This naturally helps to bring the first Doctor to mind and cements the view that the colours worn by Hartnell were all greys, blacks, and whites (which obviously isn’t the case).
The most noticeable difference is in the lack of tie – by the looks of things, Hartnell’s was a strip of black ribbon tied in a bow and allowed to drape. This was an incredibly popular look in the 1800’s but today would look incredibly out of place – instead, try going for a neckerchief – this one is a silk-effect material printed with a macabre skull motif. Alternatively, plain black would work too, but the use of pattern helps to break up an otherwise sombre outfit.
The neckerchief can be purchased here, though I can’t attest to the quality and service provided. Keep an eye out on the high-street as these are becoming more and more popular!
As with most Doctors, Hartnell’s costume naturally evolved over the course of his time on board the TARDIS. He wore many different waistcoats, trousers, jackets, etc. but the overall ‘feel’ of them was all the same. This is perhaps why his costume feels the most consistent and ‘in character’ out of all of the Doctors.
The trousers presented here offer a lot of similar facets to those favoured by the first incarnation of the Doctor. The styling is slim and straight (if a little slimmer than the originals) and the semi-high rise means that the top the trousers will meet the bottom of the waistcoat nicely. These are available from River Island and are currently on sale. As a bonus, these would also work for a 12th Doctor inspired outfit!
Alternatively, any grey-based trousers will work. Flannel would be especially good in the coming months but checks are always a welcome feature on any first Doctor influenced outfit.
The waistcoat is a beautiful puppytooth check offering by Gibson and is available through House of Fraser. The classic cut will sit nicely under a jacket while also providing a much needed break from the monochrome colour palette otherwise employed here. The colour listed on the site is green, but it definitely reads more as beige or tan than green!
As ever, you could always substitute this for a cardigan or jumper, but this will result in a more relaxed and casual look. While this can often be a good thing, I feel that this outfit works so well due to the structure.
Slimmer boots with slightly taller heels are becoming more and more popular these days and, as a result, chukka and dessert boots are starting to get a more vintage silhouette. This means a much slimmer, sleeker profile. Personally, I find that slimmer (not pointed!) boots always look better than their chunkier counterparts and these are no exception. Available through Jules B, these suede boots are a pricey £145. While the quality is undoubtedly stunning, the price can very well be off-putting for most potential customers.
Alternatively, these patent leather options are available through Debenhams and are currently on sale for £64!
The slimmer profile will help to create a smooth and consistent line from trouser leg to boot which will help to sell the Edwardian silhouette the outfit strives to recreate.
The jacket is from House of Fraser and is listed as Navy. This may well be the case but for the sake of argument it tends to read as black, especially when paired with greys, whites, and true blacks. The cut is slim and, while not that close to Hartnell’s screen worn jackets and coats, it does help to round out the look nicely. Alternatively, a slim fitting crombie or frock coat would work well too – but play around and see which works best for you.
The accessories for this outfit are relatively straight forward. I’ve selected a ring from Topman which features an engraved setting and black stone. This can be worn on any finger of your choosing, but as a gentleman’s signet style ring it would probably work better on your little finger.
In addition to this, an onyx pair of cufflinks have been selected (obviously worn with French cuffs) they help to dress up and complete the outfit. The first Doctor seemed to be fond of jewellery so, if worn tastefully, a few classic pieces will really help to sell this look! The cufflinks are available through Menkind but higher quality options are available elsewhere.
The scarf is a white on black check number from River Island and is a nice addition to the monochrome patterned look presented here. Naturally, if worn under the jacket this will help to give an air of dandyism that was so prevalent in the early years of Doctor Who.
What do you think to this look? Would you wear something based on the costume of the first Doctor? Let us know in the comments!