When the first Series 8 promo pics were released, many cosplayers were ecstatic to learn that the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, wanted a no-frills, no-nonsense look for his Doctor. A white dress shirt, navy cardigan, charcoal slim-fit pants, black brogues, and a navy coat with red lining. And a gold ring fitted with a green stone.
Even the most casual of cosplayers felt they could thrift an outfit together that looked pretty darn good (and, to be fair, I’ve seen many excellent thrifted Twelves!).
Throughout the Series, the look stayed pretty much the same. He lost the cardigan, gained a waistcoat, got a purple shirt, a dusty blue shirt… The most “specific” piece that was added was a sweater full of holes. But it pretty much stayed simple, no-nonsense, and easily poachable out of a standard wardrobe or a charity shop.
When the first photos from Series 9 came out, we were pretty sure it was going to stay pretty much exactly the same. Nothing much out-of-the-ordinary seemed to show up. Until one day:
Soon, the Capaldi cosplay community was buzzing, trying to ID these trousers. Not long after, we started getting photos of other pairs of plaid trousers being sported by our “no-nonsense” Doctor. A mad scramble ensued, and nobody seemed to be able to find ANY of these pants.
Now, after many frustrating days, weeks, months have passed since the initial hunt began, the stories behind all three pairs of plaid trousers have been unveiled. As I have spent significant time with these pants, I’d like to pass some knowledge along.
In the order they appeared onscreen:
CAPALDI PLAID 1
The first pair of plaids showed up in the first episode of the season, The Magician’s Apprentice, and its follow-up story The Witch’s Familiar.
According to costume designer Ray Holman, the fabric was an end-of-bolt vintage wool, custom tailored for the show. Due to the availability of the fabric, only two pairs were made, and to my knowledge nothing survives of the fabric (because of course). It was extremely difficult to get a proper look at the weave of the fabric for a long time, until the outfit was put on display for the Doctor Who Festival in London in 2015.
The photograph at left (taken by Alexey Korobko of Gallifrey Costumes) is high enough resolution in the full size to see every weft and warp, which I have digitally rendered (below). My rendering may seem dark, but do keep in mind that the photograph was taken with flash and everything brightens up on camera.
For now, there is no perfect substitute for these pants (anyone interested in reweaving them?). For a while, a pair of pajama pants floated around from Nordstrom Rack (my current substitutes), but those are long gone. I have uploaded my pattern rendering to Spoonflower for custom tailoring (swatches of which have been evaluated next to the screen used pants), and Bob Mitsch (a.k.a. Honorary Doctor) is able to do them as one-offs from a screen accurate pattern. For now, you’ll have to be willing to do that or live with close-enoughs, should you be lucky enough to find any.
I recommend printing these on the linen-cotton canvas for use as pants – I’ve sampled every fabric Spoonflower offers and the linen-cotton canvas offers the best trade-off between durability of fabric and depth of color (which can be a problem on Spoonflower).
CAPALDI PLAID 2
The next pair of plaid pants we see the Doctor sporting appears in only episode 5, The Girl Who Died.
At a tip off from Holman, our resident London-based cosplay spy Alexey went on the hunt down Saville Row for these pants after months of fruitless internet searching from the rest of us. Not long after, he found them in a shop: Mendoza Menswear. Immediately after being ID’d and announced, I called and ordered myself a pair directly from Mendoza (the third American to do so!), so I have first-hand experience with these trousers and the original fabric used.
Mendoza likes to cut slim (so slim, in fact, that they have a separate option for people with “particularly muscular legs”) and taper the ends of their pants for that ultra-tailored Euro silhouette. When contacted by the BBC, who ultimately ordered 6 pairs from Mendoza, they requested that the pants they currently made in this fabric be altered slightly, substituting slash pockets on the hips and requesting a 1″ turn-up at the bottom of the leg (though my pants have closer to a 1½” cuff). The people at Mendoza are some of the nicest people I’ve ever corresponded with, and they were more than happy to oblige me in adding their alterations to my pants at no extra charge.
When first ID’d, Mendoza was getting to the end of their bolt of fabric and wasn’t planning to restock. Once they were hit with the rush of people flooding them for screen accurate pants, they decided to have the fabric rewoven. At a pricey £180, they’re not for the faint of heart, but well worth the money. They run a bit snug, so if you’re sort of in-between sizes, I’d go for the larger size. A Spoonflower print for these is also available, which I have scaled to match my originals and spent significant money swatching for color accuracy. Unfortunately with these, the navy is so deep and rich on the originals that it’s just not matchable in a print, but if you want a cheaper option and know how to sew (or want to send them off to Bob Mitsch, who has patterned from my pants), it’s more accurate than finding a pair of pajama pants.
(Image courtesy of Katie York, 2016.)
CAPALDI PLAID 3
Last, but certainly not least, we come to the first pair of plaid pants photographed, which appeared in the follow-up episode to the previous pair, ep. 6: The Woman Who Lived.
The hunt for these pants was long and arduous, as the low contrast of the weave made the actual pattern difficult to identify from set photos. Not only that, but photos from on set revealed…
…that his pants had been cut upside-down from each other (notice on these two photos where the red sits in relation to the silver). This lead us all to believe these were custom pants, because what company would accidentally manufacture pants with that kind of continuity error?
It turns out that the answer is Hugo Boss, as Ray Holman revealed to a few people at the Doctor Who Festival. The trousers are the Hugo Boss Caleb Plaid pants in red (a blue colorway also exists), and they were a last-season end-stock purchase (because OF COURSE). There were only two in-store in Capaldi’s size when Holman purchased them, which is why they don’t match. Both versions are used onscreen, so if you manage to get hold of a pair yourself, don’t stress about the direction the fabric has been tailored.
As for the pants themselves, they are a slim-fit in cotton with an asymmetrical tartan design. They are mostly shades of gray, black, and silver, with a complicated pattern of stripes in red running horizontally and gold running vertically. They are very soft and extremely comfortable, run true-to-size, and are honestly my favorite pair of slacks I own – I plan to use the pattern as my go-to for tailoring suit pants for myself. In fact, if these pants weren’t so rare, I’d save up the scratch to buy enough of these to Tenth Doctor myself a suit jacket to match.
Once ID’d, I immediately called nearly every Hugo Boss outlet in America (no, literally, practically EVERY SINGLE ONE – there are a couple in Middle America I missed but everything on the East and West Coasts was double and triple checked) and I managed to scrounge up a single pair in a 36w. My good friend Bob Mitsch did the same run-around and managed to come up with another pair in a 32w, as well as a 34w in Canada, which unfortunately was passed over as they refused to ship internationally and our Canada contacts couldn’t make it work. I took the 32’s, my friend took the 36’s, and Bob eventually decided to pass. Another friend of mine in the UK managed to get a hold of a decent stock in everything from 32w-38w, and I believe he still has one or two 32’s left, so check with vardcore on Gallifrey Base if you’re interested. I am not aware of any other stock of these left anywhere in the world, and Hugo Boss has stated that they are permanently discontinued.
As you may have guessed, I have this also ready as a Spoonflower print for custom tailoring, and good ol’ Bob Mitsch has patterned my pair if you do not tailor clothing yourself.
(Image courtesy of Victor Carreon, 2016.)