When my husband (then fiancé) Seann proclaimed he wanted to put together a Captain Jack costume, my heart got all fluttery. Having not seen Torchwood at the time, I immediately jumped to “You get to wear a uniform! And an ascot!” – and though originally he had planned to do the Torchwood Jack, after a tiny bit of peer pressure, and my mentioning that “everyone does Torchwood Jack”, he/we agreed on doing the costume from Jack’s first appearance in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. My comment on this: “We’d be from the same episode!”
Once we started talking about the costume more, I decided I also wanted to do a Femme version of Jack (Jacqueline? Jackie?) myself. Many of the pieces for Seann’s costume could pull double-duty for mine, and a Femme Jack seemed like GREAT fun! I’m going to smash both Seann’s “traditional” Jack and my Femme Jack into this post, since the process of both happened together, and we share some of the pieces, but I will separate the final cost tallies and some of the “putting it together” details.
Part 1: The Character
Part 2: Sources of Info & Inspiration
Some of the other folks who’ve done this costume… especially in a Femme version.
This breakdown of Captain Jack Harkness costume is fantastically detailed and helpful. It’s of the “Torchwood” Jack, and NOT “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” Jack we are going for, but the details here about the coat and other pieces are super helpful. There’s also this simpler “How to Dress Like Jack Harkness” piece on BBC.
To make the femme version of the costume even more fun, I decided I wanted to go with a “pinup” Femme Jack, sporting some 40s glam hair, stockings with seams, T-strap heels, bright red lipstick, and a pose to match! I think Jack would approve.
Part 3: Piecing Together
Checklist of Items Needed (Male Version):
- RAF Great Coat
- Navy blue flight suit
- RAF Hat
- RAF patches (wings & flyer) and rank stripes (these were needed for Femme version, too)
- Vortex manipulator (also used for Femme version)
The key to getting this costume right for Seann was the RAF Great Coat. We looked and looked for a good alt, but couldn’t find anything with the right shape and color and length. You can buy officially licensed replicas from places like ThinkGeek for around $330, but neither of us was willing to do that, especially since I kept seeing actual (Real! Legit!) RAF coats pop up on eBay UK here and there. I finally splurged on one for him (when I found one in the right size that didn’t cost an arm and a leg) back in February, spending about £112 (approximately $182 including shipping from the UK). IT. IS. AWESOME. And freakishly heavy. But gorgeous!!
For under the coat we needed something that looked like Jack’s flightsuit. I found one on eBay in a nice dark navy blue for $17.99.
To go for the most authentic SA look possible, I shopped around for the right RAF military patches, rank tapes, and pin to add to the flight suit and great coat. I found an awesome store on eBay UK that carries all kinds of RAF stuff, and was able to find the rank braids for £11.55, the “wings” patch for £7.15, and the distinguished flying ribbon bar pin for £4.40. The seller agreed to combine shipping for me, so I paid £8.60 for all three from the UK. They are all in amazing condition and look perfect on the flight suit and coat. Total for all three items and shipping came to approximately $48.44. We got some velcro from Michael’s and used it to attach the “wings” patch, so that it could be removable and usable for both of our costumes. The rank braid was long enough so that we had plenty to affix to both of our costumes easily, and we still have some left.
You can purchase a brand new, nice hat online, but you may have to pay an arm & a leg for it, like here at an online military surplus site, where they are $95 plus shipping. We seriously lucked out on this one. We took a trip to the UK in May 2013, and while visiting some of the vendors on Portobello Road, we can across a guy selling hats & other militaria, and picked up our RAF hat for £10.00 (approximately $15.00). SCORE! I realize not everyone will have this option, so eBay is my recommendation on this one. Looking for the hat and patch separately might be more feasible, but watch the shipping costs.
The vortex manipulator came straight from ThinkGeek, an officially licensed replica, for $29.99 plus applicable shipping. The only other prop we included was a plastic banana because, well… it’s FUNNY. Seann posing as Jack pointing the banana at people thinking it’s a gun and getting a confused expression on his face? Priceless. We picked up 2 plastic bananas [link now expired] on eBay for $5.50. For his “ascot” I actually just found a burgundy handkerchief on Etsy for $7.45 including shipping. You can also just go to a fabric store and look for a remnant in the right color, which might be faster!
To get Seann’s naturally dark blonde hair to look more like Jack, we bought a cheap rinse-out spray can of black hairspray at Party City for around $3.00. We also got our makeup guru to darken his eyebrows. Seann wears his own combat boots (which he also wears for his U.N.I.T. Trooper costume, among other things) for Jack as well.
Note: All costs include shipping & tax. Total Cost for this Costume = $309.37 (approximate)
Checklist of Items Needed (Femme Version):
For the Femme version of the costume, we are re-using the great coat when appropriate (more as a prop than clothing – it’s way too big and swallows me up when I put it on, so I will occasionally sit on it or hold it, but wearing it is too much), the RAF decorations (rank braid, wings patch, flying pin), and the vortex manipulator. Which means I still needed the following items:
- a jumpsuit or military-looking shirtdress
- an RAF hat
- 40s-era shoes
- 40s-style neck scarf
- Pinup hair & makeup
Jumpsuit/dress: I had my eye on this Jawbreaker dress on eBay for weeks. It’s a WWII style dress with a nice flattering A-line cut. But I didn’t want to pay upwards of $70 for this one dress, especially when I really wanted one in navy instead of black, so I kept looking around. Then I found this Express shirtdress (there are tons similar to it on eBay) and the price was right at $24.99. It ended up being a black dress, not navy blue as it was listed, but it fits great and looks super cute, so I’m sticking with it. To make it look more authentic, I also got some RAF buttons to replace the ones on the dress. I found a few small ones for the pockets (£0.75) [link now expired] and larger ones for the main buttons (£0.99) [link now expired]. Together they cost me around $9.54 including shipping from the UK. I used the same “wings” patch, flying pin, and rank braids we used on Seann’s flight suit to outfit my dress.
While I originally planned to use the same hat as Seann, the more I tried to wear it the more I realized it was just too big. It wobbled around on my head, I couldn’t figure out a way to wear it that didn’t look like I was trying to wear my dad’s hat. So I went in search of my own. That gave me a bit more freedom, so I opted to get a different style hat, the foldable “side cap” style which I found on eBay for $19.48 – note that mine is a replica, NOT an authentic vintage hat, hence the MUCH cheaper price. But it’s a nice wool hat and it looks great, so it works for me! It came without a “King’s Crown” pin on the side, so I bought one of those separately for an additional $12.95.
Shoes & stockings: I REALLY wanted this gorgeous pair of t-strap shoes I had found on Zappos, but they were a bit more than I wanted to pay. I found a slightly more affordable pair on ModCloth for $45, so I went for it. I found an affordable pair of back seam stockings on Amazon for $9.95 with Prime shipping.
In place of the ascot Seann wears I went for a nice small silk scarf I could tie around my neck. I found a beautiful burgundy one on Etsy for $10.90 that even had an embroidered “J” on it – SCORE!
Hair: I SUCK at doing my own hair – I often joke that I missed “hair day” in girl training, so pardon the lack of actual styling you see in these photos. I did find some “gray coverup” temporary hair color at CVS that I used to darken my naturally blonde hair to make it more like Jack’s (though I should have bought 2 bottles, since it was so small and I have a lot of hair), which was great, kept my hair feeling pretty soft, didn’t come off on my hands, and washed out in about 2 shampoos. I promise I will practice the style more for next time! 🙂
The red lipstick I had already, but I used Revlon “Cherries in the Snow”, which I had bought at CVS for like $8.
Part 4: The Final Look
Part 5: Epilogue
This costume was INCREDIBLY fun. The RAF great coat is the heaviest item of clothing I’ve ever put on my body. Both of us have gotten TONS of compliments on these costumes. I just debuted mine YESTERDAY at Krewe du Who’s Time Fest III, and it was great. I can’t wait to wear it again. I have a few changes I plan to make, mostly with the dress. I’m going to replace the tie belt with a more military-style belt and permanently close the front together to keep it from pulling at the buttons, and install a zipper on the side to get it on and off. I’ll also buy more brown temporary hair color to cover up all my blonde more properly. Haha! I didn’t wear the stockings this time, but for the next photo shoot I plan to add those. Plus I will practice my hairstyles, as promised. All around though, these are awesome costumes!!