Deconstructing Doctor Who: a fashion expert analyses Peter Capaldi’s skinhead style

"It’s about being clean and well-turned out, but also quite hard," says Stylist's Anna Fielding


Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi’s new outfit has been unveiled, to a largely positive reaction. Among the many comparisons made were Jon Pertwee’s third Doctor and a magician, but fashion-conscious Whovians spotted a mod-influenced style.


Here, Stylist’s Anna Fielding unpicks Capaldi’s look, comparing it with his recent predecessors Matt Smith and David Tennant, and explaining why age does matter – and why it’s ok that the new Doctor is a skinhead…

“The 12th Doctor’s new look is really interesting. It’s a classic early skinhead look, which started to appear in the late 1960s (in Earth’s timeline, that is). These days people think of the skinhead movement as being associated with racial violence and far-right politics, but in the beginning it wasn’t like that.

“The style grew out of the harder end of mod, but also took in fashion and musical influences from Jamaican culture. These were kids wearing classic British bands, like Crombie and Dr Martens, but also listening to ska and rocksteady and wearing elements of Jamaican rudeboy style, such as sharp tonic suits (made with shiny two-tone fabric) and porkpie hats.

“It was a very working-class movement and the absolute opposite to the hippy culture going on at the same time. This was about fighting and football, about looking sharp and taking your girl dancing on a Saturday night. There was no room for the hippies’ peace and love. That’s something to consider when we start guessing at what this incarnation of the Doctor will be like.

“The last few Doctors have, fashion-wise, drawn quite heavily on style from UK subcultures. David Tennant’s tenth Doctor was an indie boy through and through. With his Damon-Albarn-style hair, his long coat, his second-hand-looking suit and his Converse plimsolls, he’d have fitted in happily at any night playing post-punk or Britpop. It works with his personality too: he’s a doomy romantic and also a touch vain (he wouldn’t regenerate fully because he liked the way he looked). The clothes also work with the actor’s age, they’re things men in their 30s and 40s have and do wear.

“Similarly, Matt Smith’s Doctor was dressed in a style you see on certain twentysomething men today. He looks like a bit of a hipster. His bowtie and tweed jacket would be well at home in various east London bars. He’s very much the Generation Y Doctor, starting out playful and full of whimsy and, as his story progresses, coming to accept the weight of his responsibilities.

“Peter Capaldi is 55, so this is a look that works with his timeline and doesn’t look like he’s trying to be too young. It’s also a break from the eccentric professor look, popular with many Doctors including Matt Smith, but one that Tennant and Eccleston rejected. My guess is that this Doctor will be angry, sharp-thinking and mostly very controlled – except on the few occasions he turns into a bit of a berserker.”

Deconstructing the 12th Doctor’s skinhead style

1. Hair Not quite shaved (that came later), but more closely cropped than we’ve seen on any Doctor with the exception of Christopher Eccleston.

2. Coat Crombie is actually a Scottish firm – which matches nicely with Capaldi’s roots – and is over 200 years old. They’ve supplied coats to royalty and statesmen, but the skinheads made them their own. Clean lines and good quality.

3. Shirt Clean, pressed and no tie. You can’t get into a fight wearing a tie, can you?

4. Cardigan A smart cardigan was a popular alternative to a jacket for skinheads.

5. Dr Martens A footwear staple for any Brit who fancies themselves to be a bit alternative. These DMs are shiny, though, unlike the bashed about ones worn by most of the subcultures that followed – again it’s about being clean and well-turned out, but also quite hard.

Anna Fielding is editor of Emerald Street and 

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