Who dressed you like that? Doctor Who style from best to worst

in Fiction by

Doctor Who is debuting its Twelfth Doctor this week, and every Whovian out there is waiting on pins and needles to see how Peter Capaldi will portray our favorite Time Lord. Will he be goofy and sweet like the Tenth Doctor? Or quirky but a little damaged like the Eleventh? Only time (and the premiere on August 23) will tell.

In the meantime, I’m more concerned with how the Doctor will look. The official photo from the BBC promises sleek suits with a magician-like flare:

DOCTOR WHO

But how will he stack up in terms of the other Doctor’s personal styles? There have been a lot of looks over the past 50 years—some awesome, some…not so much. Before the eighth season premieres on Saturday, let’s take a look back at the fashion of the Doctors—by ranking their styles from best-dressed to worst:

1. The Tenth Doctor

Tenth Doctor
David Tennant
18 June 2005 – 1 January 2010

The perfect combo of nerdy and cool, the Tenth Doctor was all well-fitted suits, tweed, and tennis shoes. The look perfectly captured his fun-loving personality by keeping him young (those sneakers!) while still giving him the gravitas that suits a good Doctor. He’s clearly the one to beat.

2. The Eighth Doctor

Eighth Doctor
Paul McGann
27 May 1996

He was only around for one episode, but that was more than enough to establish the Eighth Doctor as the second most stylish in the series. With his waistcoat, ascot, and pocket-watch, he looks like a dashing Victorian gentleman come to life. A classic look for the immortal adventurer.

3. The First Doctor

First Doctor
William Hartnell
23 November 1963 – 29 October 1966

The First Doctor set the standard for almost all doctors to come—that suit-wearing, tweed-loving, layer-heavy look we’ve come to associate with most incarnations of the Time Lord. His style might not be the sleekest, but it’s certainly iconic.

4. The Ninth Doctor

Ninth Doctor
Christopher Eccleston
26 March 2005 – 18 June 2005

With his leather jackets, fitted sweaters, and jeans, the Ninth Doctor represents the biggest style departure in the Doctor Who universe. His tough guy look – and attitude – is a refreshing change from the other Doctors, even if he does look a little awkward in his over-sized coats at times.

5. The Eleventh Doctor

Eleventh Doctor
Matt Smith
18 June 2005 – 1 January 2010

The Eleventh Doctor often walked that fine line between stylish and goofy—and sometimes he swung a bit too far in the latter direction. He clearly never met a bowtie he didn’t like. Still, his fitted tweed jackets and sweeping hair did a lot of positive work for him.

6. The Fifth Doctor

Fifth Doctor
Peter Davison
21 March 1981 – 16 March 1984

The Fifth Doctor had a run from 1982-84, and it clearly shows. This classic 1980s preppy look is complete only with a cricket bat (no, seriously—he loved cricket). It’s not perfect style, but at least the patterns don’t clash, the trench is great, and his hat is oddly charming.

7. The Second Doctor

Second Doctor
Patrick Troughton
29 October 1966 – 21 June 1969

The Second Doctor upped the tweed and the bow-tie action, influencing many of the Doctors to come. It’s not exactly a polished look, and his pants are probably a little too baggy, but I suppose it could be worse.

8. The Seventh Doctor

Seventh Doctor
Sylvester McCoy
7 September 1987 – 6 December 1989

See? It definitely could be worse. The clashing patterns, the irreverent umbrella, all those question marks – this was not the best Doctor look. But the Seventh Doctor was a master of layering, so that’s something I suppose.

9. The Fourth Doctor

Fourth Doctor
Tom Baker
8 June 1974 – 21 March 1981

Yikes. The late 70s were not kind to the Doctor. The tweed is out of control, the ascot is misplaced, the hat seems to be furry and the scarf doesn’t match anything. He might be one of the most recognizable Doctors, but that’s not always a good thing.

10. The Third Doctor

Third Doctor
Jon Pertwee
3 January 1970 – 8 June 1974

If the Twelfth Doctor has an air of the magician about him, then the Third Doctor is like a magician on crack. Capes! Gloves! Red velvet! This Doctor was also the king of ruffles—and not in a good way.

11. The Sixth Doctor

Sixth Doctor
Colin Baker
16 March 1984 – 6 December 1986

And finally we reach the worst – the Sixth Doctor. It’s like Willy Wonka exploded all over his chest. He also seemed to favor a rainbow umbrella, because obviously.

Where will the Twelfth Doctor fall along the Doctor Who style spectrum? Will he be more of a Tenth or as bad as a Sixth? Let us know your predictions in the comments!

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

1 Comment

  1. You can’t be much of a Doctor Who fan, or just a recent one. One of the consistencies of the way the Doctor dresses is that it is always Edwardian to a greater or lesser degree. #9, for all his cool leather, is so subtle that fans of classic Who were very disturbed by the lack of Edwardian. It’s there, but subtle. The #4 costume, that is rated below the rather silly cricket uniform & celery stalk of #5, is one that is one of the most popular to emulate. And the long coat has inspired heroes from Captain Mal to Doctor #10 to Sherlock.

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