At the first amazing Krewe Du Who collector card photo shoot in October 2012, I was enamored with some of my fellow Whovian ladies and their takes on femme versions of The Doctor in various regenerations. Little did I know, this is totally a thing amongst female DW fans – I’ve learned a lot since then! I was immediately inspired to do one of my own. At the time , I had watched all of the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors episodes, but had also started watching the original William Hartnell episodes starting in 1963 (to the best of my ability based on what’s available on Netflix). I love Hartnell’s Doctor, and decided he would be “my” Doctor for the KDW Femme Doctor project I headed up. This costume was put together in early 2013, debuted at the KDW Femme Doctor Photo Shoot in April 2013.
Part 1: The Character
Hartnell was 55 when he began starring as The Doctor, with his unmistakeable white hair, his ever-present monocle, and his grouchy disposition. For an index of Class Hartnell episodes, see this BBC resource.
Part 2: Sources of Info & Inspiration
One of the items I found which helped as I started looking for how to put this costume together was this blog post on how to be a desaturated ANYTHING. Good tips on how to look realistic and not just like you’re wearing black & white clothes. I’ve also been watching old Hartnell DW episodes, of course, and getting a feel for his facial expressions and mannerisms as well. Otherwise, it was just talking to folks about the idea and thinking of the best ways to feminize the character while still being recognizable.
I also need to give a shout out to ALL of the amazing Femme Doctor cosplays out there. I’ve seen some truly incredible stuff in the last three years I’ve been doing Doctor Who costuming, and I love seeing how creative people are. I wish I could sew, I’m so in awe of what people can accomplish when they can make their imaginations come to life instead of relying on what they can FIND, like I have to. That’s it’s own kind of creativity and it definitely takes some time and resourcefulness, but the folks who can generate costumes from their minds and hands and sweat are just incredible. Here are some LOVELY Femme Docs I’ve stumbled across, ALL of which provided warm fuzzies and inspiration for me. Just to name a few:
- Fem!Doctor Tumblr (AMAZING)
- 19 Fiercely Feminine Doctor Who Cosplays on Buzzfeed
- Victorian Group of Femme Docs (All the Whos in Whoville): Photo1 & Photo2
- My good friend Aine as Femme Second Doctor on Fem!Doctor and this year as Femme Eight at KDW’s Time Fest III (photo by She Geeks)
Part 3: Piecing Together
Checklist of Items Needed:
- Black Blazer
- B&W/grey patterned skirt (already owned)
- White Shirt (already owned)
- Grey vest (preferably pinstripe)
- Multi-grey shoes (already owned) & grey tights
- Accessories & Props (monocle, ring, cane, bowtie)
- Makeup & wig (KEY)
From everything I’d read about trying to cosplay as a black & white character, I knew I needed to to shades of grey instead of straight black & white for a more realistic desaturated effect. I had recently bought a black & white patterned skirt from Ann Taylor LOFT to wear to work, which I decided would work just fine in lieu of trying to find the exact kind of pattern from Hartnell’s pants (cost was $39.22). I also had a cute pair of multi-patterned grey Mary Jane heels that I opted to use, as well as a plain white dress shirt that could act as a base.
To be honest, I need to start at thrift stores on this one, fueled by the need to keep my burgeoning cosplay hobby from bankrupting this already low-budget grad student lifestyle. I found the black blazer ($13.50), and the grey vest ($5.00) from thrift stores in the New Orleans area (Goodwill on Tulane Ave. and the Salvation Army on Jefferson Highway). Then it was time for accessories!
Monocle on Silver Chain from Amazon ($4.65).
The white wig ($32ish) and the cane ($10ish) came from Uptown Costume & Dancewear on Magazine. The cane was black, and my fiance spray-painted it black for me. It has since broken, and I need to replace it…
The black & silver ring, which I think is a great feminine rendition of Hartnell’s ring, came from Macy’s, for $17.99.
I got the grey tights at Target ($8.80) and the grey nail polish ($4.79) at Walgreens.
Makeup: If you don’t have an amazing makeup artist at your disposal, there are still resources online to help you become “desaturated” if you want. I found this tutorial on YouTube for “starlet” makeup which gives some good tips. If you want to go short sleeved but want your arms/hands to be grey, you can probably modify this DIY tutorial I found for how to make yourself look like a Weeping Angel and use it in this case.Note: All costs include shipping & tax. Total Cost for this Costume = $136 (approximate)
Part 4: The Final Look
Part 5: Epilogue
This costume was INCREDIBLY fun. Though of course, since I was using my hands all day long the makeup came off, and in the hot New Orleans heat the sweat on my neck did the same thing. However, thanks to the amazing makeup I got TONS of compliments.
The only bits I will improve for next time are the items I left out for lack of time and, well, FINDING them. I really wanted a nice feminine pinstripe vest instead of the grey cotton-y one I ended up with, but could NOT find one in time. I will keep scouring thrift stores to try and locate one before the next time I wear this costume. Also, I will add a nice bow/tie at my neck next time as well, since that really is part of the iconic look. With the white shirt I was wearing it didn’t go too well, but I will make it work somehow since I think that is an important accessory.
Even without these things, the effect of me in black & white with the rest of the ladies in color was exactly what I was going for, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out!
Part 6: Update!
While I loved how my costume came out the first time, particularly with the amazing makeup job Meghan did for me, I always intended to upgrade it with some improved, more accurate pieces. I FINALLY got around to that this summer, in preparation for our own Krewe du Who’s mini-con, Time Fest III. Here are the elements I updated:
- The Vest. This was at the top of my list. I settled for the grey cotton-y vest the first time ONLY because I couldn’t find a “real” vest that was the right color and that fit around me without squashing The Girls. I finally scored one at my favorite thrift store (you’ve seen it mentioned here on my blog before), Red White & Blue. It cost me $7.95 plus tax.
- The Skirt. My original skirt was one I had in my closet, and it was too pencil-shaped, I wanted something a bit longer and more conservative, I felt that would fit The Doctor’s personality better. I scored one at Red White & Blue the week before Time Fest for $2.95. It’s actually WAY too long and needs to be shortened, I ended up pinning it to the shirt way up under my vest to get it to the right length for the con, as a temporary fix.
- The White Shirt. Again, the week before Time Fest I found a simple white button-down collared shirt (short-sleeved, WAY more comfortable), for only $4.95 at Red White & Blue. You’re seeing why I love this store.
- The Bow Tie. It’s not the Mark Twain-style tie I was originally planning for, but I saw this cute bow-tie necklace on Etsy and went for it. $13.50 including shipping.
- The Hat. The First Doctor wears this funky old traditional black hat, which I learned is called a “karakul” or an “Astrakhan” alternatively. I’m not big into real fur, and these are normally made of Persian lamb’s wool, from what I’ve seen, so I found a faux version on eBay. It was being sold in tandem with another faux fur hat I’m stashing for a Viking costume (forthcoming!), so we’ll say it cost half of that purchase, which comes to $12.25.
- The Shoes. I originally wore a pair of grey patterned heels I had sitting in my closet, but they weren’t very era-appropriate. That was fine for the photo shoot, because I didn’t imagine my shoes would end up in the calendar photo anyway, but for the con I wanted something more accurate. Back to Red White & Blue! I found a nice pair of more traditional almost Oxford-style shoes for $5.95. I did buy some shoe polish to shine them up, which was about $7.00, and helped a lot! Unfortunately, they only barely made it through the day. The soles cracked horribly across the bottom of the ball of my foot, which is likely why they were given up to begin with, and I wish I had seen the crack before buying them. So I will have to hunt around a bit for some new ones, as I think these are shot and probably not worth repairing. At the moment I have my eyes on these and these at ModCloth, or these, these, these, or these at Amazon. They are all too pricey right now… le sigh.
Updated Cost: All costs include shipping & tax. Total Cost for this Costume = $147 (I subtracted the old vest and shirt and added in all the new items including the shoe polish)