EDIT: As new information regarding the UniQlo shirts comes to light, this post will be periodically updated to reflect that information. Last update 2/2/2016
With a new Doctor on the horizon, who’s already begun filming, there’s been a lot of movement into IDing the new Doctor’s wardrobe, and with Steve Ricks’ discovery of Budd Shirtmakers, there’s been some early movement on IDing a part of the costume that often goes unidentified – The dress shirt.
It’s kinda cool that we know these little pieces of information, but often they go unknown. There was a long search for David Tennant’s dress shirt in the 50th Anniversary special, and even though it had a very specific inner collar (and matching inner cuffs match) which would have made it easy to recognize, it ultimately went unidentified.
Unfortunately, most of Tennant’s dress shirts went unidentified until they were auctioned at Bonham’s. Many of his darker dress shirts and several colored undershirts (for episodes without ties) were sold, but there was only ever one major light blue shirt auctioned at Bonham’s: The UniQlo.
Described in the auction as “An iconic pale blue shirt, the ‘Uni Qlo’ shirt, of linen mix fabric, with make-up staining to collar, and cream coloured buttons” the shirt was sold on February 24th, 2010 as Lot 6 for £1,260.
Since this was the only light blue dress shirt auctioned at Bonham’s, it has the reputation of being THE Tennant dress shirt. It is generally thought to be the main shirt he wore and the shirt that Matt Smith wore in The Eleventh Hour.
Intrigued, I went searching for this shirt and discovered something very interesting – UniQlo not only still makes dress shirts in linen, but they offer a light blue option! After purchasing a dark blue linen UniQlo on eBay and being impressed with the look and feel of the fabric, I saw that my local mall recently opened a UniQlo, so I popped by to check them out.
When I finally saw the fabric up close on the light blue option, I was taken aback – I’d always thought of his shirts as being one color, but this was woven from light blue and white threads. The overall color looked spot-on, but on closer inspection the threads are uneven in thickness, giving it a very specific textured feel. I’d always thought of Tennant shirts to be very crisp and clean, but this was neither.
At an affordable $30 I picked one up anyway, but I wasn’t 100% keen on it. I then had a conversation with a friend of mine who’s spent a LOT of time researching Tennant shirts and he seemed very excited about what I’d found, so I started to do some further research.
The linen has a specific texture, which is usually difficult to discern onscreen but can be seen in this close up from Rise of the Cybermen (left), where Tennant wears a beige linen UniQlo. You can see the floppiness of the collar and the textured weave are noticeable. The other thing about this shirt is that it wrinkles VERY easily (see above), which you’ll notice very prominently featured on the Bonham’s shirt (my understanding is that this is a feature of linen).
While it’s difficult to tell in the non-HD quality, this is definitely the shirt worn in both New Earth (see left) and Waters of Mars (see right), making it a shirt that was used off-and-on throughout his entire tenure on the show. All of the details that make it clear that this is the Bonham’s shirt also make it clear that it’s not the shirt used most often. This is the most casual of his dress shirts, which are usually very crisp, lacking the texture of linen (most of his shirts are cotton):
And it is definitely not the shirt worn by Matt Smith in The Eleventh Hour, which is cotton, has stiff interfacing in the collar, and is darker than the UniQlo:
TL;DR – The UniQlo shirt sold at Bonham’s is readily available on the internet and from UniQlo stores worldwide.
Oh, did I mention that I gave my screen accurate UniQlo its first outing this past weekend at FanimeCon? I think I even found the perfect companion there.
As a postscript: It’s also worth noting that in that same Bonham’s auction where the light blue UniQlo was sold, another UniQlo was sold as part of a larger lot of shirts, only it wasn’t pictured. The UniQlo in question was only worn at the very end of School Reunion over a dark blue H&M t-shirt, and
is also still available from UniQlo in the correct colorway was unfortunately discontinued in 2013 (though the beige shirt worn in Rise of the Cybermen and elsewhere is still available). So if you’re a completest about these things or want something unique to spice your cosplay up, three two screen accurate Tennant shirts are just waiting to be purchased from UniQlo online (please note that these linen dress shirts are part of UniQlo’s summer line and are therefore not available at certain times of the year).
For the correct heathered gray UniQlo as worn in School Reunion, your best bet is eBay, where it occasionally pops up and where I have secured my own (see left) for a little less than retail price. Happy hunting!