Yellow braces. In the grand history of fashion – women’s fashion, at least – yellow braces are not something that have ever had a moment. Not even a nano-second. But then, Doctor Who has never really been a slavish follower of fashion. While the world’s designers spend their whole time in a constant shift between decades (anyone looking at the new Vogue out this week would be forgiven in thinking the time machine had got lost in the 70s), the Doctor has never really paid much attention to the sartorial codes of his – and now her – travels through different eras.
But those braces are something else. Red braces and the new Doctor would have been in tricky skinhead territory. Especially with those boots. But the mustard yellow brings to mind fellow sci-fi traveller Mork (of late-70s throwbacks Mork & Mindy) who, when he wasn’t in his red bacofoil and crimplene boiler suit, was rarely seen without his wonderfully upbeat rainbow coloured braces. There is something reassuringly children’s TV presenter about the braces, too. And maybe, given Dr Who’s core audience, that’s no bad thing. When the monsters get too scary, the Doctor’s attire will be a comforting distraction.
Every Doctor worth their Tardis has to have a signature. For the first Doctor, played in 1963 by William Hartnell, the look was a Dickensian cravat tied around his wing collars in a neat bow. He also liked the occasional monocle. The most memorable doctors have boasted instantly recognisable looks. For third Doctor Jon Pertwee, it was a dash of Liberace with big hair, ruffled dress shirt, bowtie and velvet smoking jacket. The fourth Doctor (I would argue that the golden age was 1974-78) was an opportunity for Tom Baker to cast off his construction site overalls and go through the BBC dressing-up box. He was a true style leader; his maxi coat, beaten up hat and that handknit stripey scarf could well have inspired Richard E Grant’s look in Withnail and I.
So the wardrobe of Jodie Whittaker’s first female Doctor is of some considerable importance (some might argue even more importance than the latest Gucci collection). The mustard yellow braces hold up navy culottes which are a 70s favourite enjoying something of a comeback. They are very practical for a woman on the go, as are the sturdy boots. The coat has subtle stripes that match the stripe on her top – perhaps a nod to the great Baker’s scarf – and looks as though it could be reversible which would be very handy if you only had one change of clothes for an entire TV series. She is practically attired, fashionably timeless. Almost anti-fashion, in fact. But then, like all of her predecessors, she has her mind set on far more pressing matters like saving the Earth from impending doom. But just you wait. Fashion works in mysterious ways and those yellow braces may well have their moment yet.