(Infographic at the end of this post!)
Of the many Matt Smith items that have been categorically dissected over the years, one thing I still haven’t seen much discussion of is his custom dress shirts – which I recently (finally) tackled in a blitz of projects that have been sitting on my list for many years now. So let’s take a look at the many shirts worn by Matt Smith during his tenure as The Doctor – you can find a breakdown of the custom shirt design here.
The Shirt Index
A quick disclaimer: I do not intend for this to serve as an exhaustive encyclopedia of every stitch of cloth Smith ever wore on his back, but rather a guide of the major staples in his iconic looks. If you would like to track down, say, the pleated tuxedo shirt worn briefly with a white dinner jacket in A Christmas Carol, more power to you, but these minor looks will be omitted from this particular list.
Series 5 has only a small selection of costume variation for The Doctor, and as a result only two main shirts. Both were made by Paul Smith, and are were actually the same shirt in two colors: Red and blue. The shirts feature a narrow button placket, long square contrasting cuffs, single darts, and a box pleat in the back. There was a lot of variation with these shirts and it is possible (or perhaps inevitable) that some of the screen worn shirts had their box pleats sewn inside out, though these are never observed onscreen to my knowledge. Some versions of this shirt, released by Paul Smith also, have varying details, such as non-contrasting cuffs or a folded front in place of a button placket, but these were never worn by Matt.
In Series 6, Smith’s wardrobe gets a polish. He drops his Harris and Donegal tweeds in favor of a single Shetland tweed (and the occasional olive green overcoat) and his shirts go from Paul Smith to custom jobs – he wears three main custom shirts with the Shetland tweed and occasionally a tux shirt. A number of these custom fabrics, by complete coincidence, have also turned up on Paul Smith shirts, but this is purely by chance as these shirts are confirmed custom made by production and share identical construction details, which I discuss in excruciating detail in this post.
Shirt 3, the first of the Series 6 custom jobs, is one of the most elusive, the tattersall. Many years ago, Hopkins Fabrics told me they used to stock this fabric but it was vintage and long gone. Whether or not they meant this particular fabric or a similar tattersall is unknown. It features a white herringbone weave with blue and red stripes creating a check.
Shirt 4 is this purple striped dobby with a diamond motif, affectionately referred to as the “Utah” shirt due to its use in the Lake Silencio sequence of Series 6.
And thirdly, Shirt 5 is a blue Oxford fabric. Another strangely elusive fabric, light and dark blue threads in a unique pinpoint weave create an iridescence from a distance. All three of these Series 6 shirts feature identical construction details.
Unless wearing a tuxedo, Smith seems to keep to these shirts until his major wardrobe overhaul for the final half of Series 7.
Ah, the dreaded Series 7b. Despite being only 11ish episodes in total (counting specials but not counting the minisodes and other apocrypha), Smith wears nearly twice as many shirts in this period of the show as in the entire previous run combined! While some of these striped shirts were custom made, many others were made by Budd Shirtmakers, who would also go on to supply Peter Capaldi with his iconic white soyella dress shirt.
For the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen, Smith wears this elaborate striped red-and-green fabric as Shirt 6. While still a custom piece, we see the introduction of french cuffs to Smith’s design and the collar tabs are omitted, with new buttons. This shirt, and entire ensemble, reappear for the Christmas Town sequence in The Time of the Doctor.
Shirt 7, for The Bells of St. John, is this lovely subtle multicolored stripe. Probably custom with French cuffs, no collar tabs, and new buttons.
In Shirt 8, for The Rings of Akhaten, we see our first Budd Shirtmakers item appear, the “Paternoster Stripe” in Camel, which was discontinued in 2017. It was later reused for The Crimson Horror. It also features a French cuff.
Shirt 9, for Cold War, is this blue textured striped fabric. The most elusive of the 7b shirts, this shirt was custom made and would be later reused for Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, though production distressing would dull its color until it was nearly gray. Its details match the other custom shirts, except collar tabs have been omitted.
In Shirt 10, for Hide, this blue and green striped fabric was custom made to the exact specs of the S6 shirts, including collar tabs.
Shirt 11 – Nightmare in Silver saw the use of this lovely “Wide Fine Butcher Stripe” cotton poplin shirt from Budd Shirtmakers.
Shirt 12 is a blue Oxford cloth worn in The Name of the Doctor. It makes another prominent appearance in the beginning of The Time of the Doctor, worn without the frock coat over it. It appears to have been another Budd Shirtmakers purchase. Barrel cuffs are the prominent feature of this shirt – no other major Smith shirt has them.
And finally, Shirt 13 is a simple blue end-on-end shirt was used for the The Day of the Doctor and reused for Christmas dinner and the regeneration in The Time of the Doctor. This shirt is a stock shirt from Budd Shirtmakers and is actually still available to purchase. It features a similarly baggy fit to Shirt 12, french cuffs, and a very stiff collar.
And, as a fun bonus, this Series 5 era shirt was from Topman:
It’s got some fun buttons but was never worn in Doctor Who, but rather for a crossover episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Which shirt is your favorite? I’m partial to Shirt 5 and Shirt 7 myself! Drop a comment below with your favorite and check out my dissection of the custom shirt here if you have not yet done so!
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