As I mentioned previously, Tennant wore (at least) six different blue suits over his run as the Doctor.
As best I could tell, the first was only seen during the season three premiere, “Smith and Jones,” during which the blue suit was introduced. After that, the blue suit appeared to be fairly consistent throughout the remainder of the third season.
However, two more blue suits were worked into the costume rotation around the middle of the fourth season, another at the end of the fourth season, and yet another for the subsequent specials.
The only notable differences between all six blue suits appears to have been the cut of the collars and lapels.
Interestingly, although the 10th Doctor’s blue suit closely resembled his brown one in its construction, either during the design or pattern drafting stage, Louise Page seems to have decided on a different collar style for the blue suit than those previously seen on his brown suits from season two.
In fact, the Doctor’s brown suits’ lapel facings were always cut the same way and there were only two versions of the collar (an early version and a later version), but the blue suits’ lapel facings were cut two different ways and had three different collar variations! (Yeah, I had fun keeping track of all those, haha.)
Given the continuity nightmare this might cause in production and post-production, my guess is that Page and/or her tailors either didn’t know, didn’t care, or wanted to subtly experiment with each new suit … who knows?
In any event, up to the time the blue suit was introduced, the brown suits’ collars were cut and sewn so that the front edges of the collar were directly on (and parallel to) the fabric’s pinstripes:
However, the early blue suits’ collars were cut with the front edges at a slight angle, in relation to the pinstripes:
And on the early blue suits, the collar notches were approximately three pinstripes from the lapel facing (as measured from the edge, which was cut between pinstripes – more on that shortly):
Tennant wore this version of the blue suit well into season four.
There was another early version of the blue suit seen in the season three premiere, “Smith and Jones,” which had an extremely angled collar (and resultingly wider collar notch) by comparison.
As best I could tell, was quickly abandoned; I never spotted it again in the course of my costume research.
Anyway, it seems the early blue suit collar style may have been preferred (the first one I presented, not the “Smith and Jones” variant immediately above), because the following year, the next round of brown suits adopted it, too:
I find this curious, because a new blue suit was introduced at the end of that same season, and then another for the subsequent specials … both of which had collar cuts similar to those of the early brown suits!
Similar, that is, but not identical; the mid-season-four blue suit collar edges were parallel to the pinstripes but not actually on them (in a similar style as the early blue suits’ lapels – again, more on that shortly).
A “head canon” explanation might be that this was intended to subtly differentiate the Meta-crisis Doctor from the (real) Doctor, except the latter also wore this collar style later in “The Waters of Mars”:
I also spotted him wearing that collar style in this season four promotional photo:
So there you have it – three different collar styles (well, two and an outlier), in the reverse order one might naturally expect them to develop, in relation to the evolution of the brown suit.
To me, it seems like more of a natural progression to start with the brown suit’s “straight collar,” introduce the blue suit with a straight collar, maybe experiment a bit with the angled collar on the blue suit, favor of it when making the next round of brown suits, and possibly go a bit too far experimenting with extreme collar angles.
But what actually happened was that we started with the brown suit’s straight collar, then the blue suit’s angled collar (and the one outlier), followed by the brown suit’s angled collar, only to return to the straight collar design with the later blue suits.
It might even have made sense for, say, the brown suits to have always had straight collars and the blue suits to always have had angled collars (or vice-versa), but instead, both suits had both collar styles at different times.
Why all the variation over the years with no apparent rhyme or reason?
Unlike the brown suit collars, which had a seam at the center back (probably due to the source fabric being limited to the width of trouser legs), the blue suit collars may have been one piece with no back seam.
I never got a good look at the undercollar of the 10th Doctor’s blue suits, but since his brown suit’s undercollar was made of brown undercollar felt/tailoring felt/melton (see right), I think it’s safe to assume that this was the case for the blue suits as well (probably navy blue or black, though).
Unlike the brown suits, which clearly had a seam along the front edge of the collars (where the upper collar and undercollar were sewn together – see below), the blue suits appeared to lack this seam, implying that the front edge of the collar was folded underneath and hand-sewn onto the undercollar.
Note the absence of an upper collar/undercollar seam line on the front edge of the blue suit collar:
The underside of the blue suit collar probably looked something like these:
The above images are from Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear (2nd edition) and Vintage Couture Tailoring, respectively.
Like the brown suits from the previous season, the blue suits quickly began showing mild fatigue, which is probably why more were added to the production rotation around the middle and end of season four.
The production “wear and tear” and multiple dry-cleanings appear to have taken their toll on the blue suits, as evidenced by fussy collar/lapel contortions:
Lastly regarding the collar, the seam allowances were either ¼” or trimmed to ¼” after sewing (common practice to reduce bulk), as evidenced below by the occasional impression of seam allowances being visible through the collar and/or lapel facing:
Oddly, though, at least one of the later versions of the blue suit seemed to have a slightly wider collar seam allowance – about ⅜” along the back edge …
One subtle difference between Tennant’s first two (early style) blue suits was the relationship between the pinstripes on the collar and those on the lapel at the collar/lapel seam line (known as the “gorge line”); on one suit, the pinstripes aligned perfectly:
On the other, the pinstripes did not align at the collar/lapel seam line:
This was also true on the later version of the blue suits:
Unlike the brown suit, the early blue suit’s lapel facings were cut and sewn so that the edges of the lapel facings were parallel to, but not actually on, the fabric’s pinstripes:
However, on the later version of the blue suits, the lapel facings were cut with the front edges actually on pinstripes – the same way the brown suits’ were.
As with the collar, this design evolution was, curiously, the reverse of what one might naturally expect; it would make more sense to me if the blue suit had initially inherited the brown suit’s style of the lapel (facing) edges being on pinstripes, later diverging so that the collar and lapel facing edges were both between pinstripes (thus being consistent stylistic matches with each other).
In other words, it would’ve made sense to me for both the collar and lapel facing to have been constructed so the edges were on pinstripes (like the early brown suit), then for both to be constructed with the edges between pinstripes.
Instead, it was a non-linear “mix and match” of collar and lapel styles with both the brown AND blue suits!
Chronologically, the designs of both suits evolved in the following manner:
Early brown suit = collar edges on pinstripes, lapel facing edges on pinstripes
Early blue suit = collar edges angled, lapel facing edges between pinstripes
Later brown suit = collar edges angled, lapel facing edges on pinstripes
Middle blue suits = collar edges angled, lapel facing edges on pinstripes
Later blue suits = collar edges (straight) between pinstripes, lapel facing edges on pinstripes
And like the collar seam allowances, the lapel/lapel facing seam allowances were either ¼” or trimmed to ¼” after being sewn (again, most likely to reduce bulk):
Another diversion from the brown suits was that the blue suits were cut so that the center front edges of the jacket were on pinstripes.
Presumably, this was made possible because of the wider pinstripe spacing on the blue suit fabric.
The center front of the jacket was on a pinstripe (as on the brown suits), but the wider pinstripe spacing allowed for the center front edge to be on a pinstripe as well.
Four Button Closure
The front ends of the buttonholes aligned with the center front pinstripe and were precisely two pinstripes wide.
Also note that the buttonholes were “keyhole buttonholes,” not the standard rectangular ones.
The buttons appeared to be evenly spaced, approximately 3 ½” apart:
Furthermore, the locations of the buttons and pockets were strategically coordinated with each other.
The top button was placed halfway between the upper and lower edges of the left chest pocket (including the pocket flap, unlike the brown suit).
The second button was positioned so its upper edge was horizontally aligned with the bottom of the left chest pocket.
The bottom button was positioned with its center horizontally aligned with the upper edges of the lower pocket flaps.
However, it seems that sometimes the second highest button was positioned so its center (and corresponding buttonhole) were even with the bottom of the chest pocket, rather than with the top of the button.
The buttons themselves appeared to be ¾” wide, with four holes.
They appeared to be a slightly darker navy blue than the actual blue fabric:
In fact, the buttons weren’t solid navy blue at all!
They were a more of a swirl of several blues …
Like his brown suit jacket, the 10th Doctor’s blue suit jacket had two fitting darts on the front (one on each side).
Also, like the early versions of the brown suit, the darts were (more or less) centered over pinstripes and taken in exactly the width of a pinstripe.
It wasn’t always consistent, but the net effect was about the same (see below).
Whereas the height of the darts on the brown suit varied over the years, the blue suits’ darts appear to have consistently extended to the same height as the top jacket button:
On the suit jacket’s left side, the dart extended underneath the left external pocket pouch.
Left Chest Pocket
The left chest pocket on the 10th Doctor’s suit jacket was unique in several ways.
First, the pocket flap was not the shape typically seen on a suit jacket or blazer; rather than an M-shaped flap that has a slight point in the center, the pocket flap curved upward toward the middle.
The pinstripes on the upper edge of the pocket flap aligned perfectly with those on the suit jacket.
Also note that the pocket flap did not have the conventional topstitching approximately ¼” below the top edge:
However, the pocket flap didn’t flap open all the way to the upper stitch line, leading me to believe that the underside of the pocket flap was hand sewn to the jacket body.
The pocket itself was also unique … perhaps most notably because it was an external pouch pocket, rather than an internal (welt) pocket typically seen on suit jackets, sport coats, and blazers.
Another unique characteristic of the pocket pouch was that it was pleated on each side of the pocket center, with each folded edge positioned exactly on a pinstripe (forming a raised panel on the pocket exactly two pinstripes wide).
The top of the pocket pouch was turned under and hemmed, and the pocket pouch itself was edge-stitched onto the jacket body.
Although the pinstripes on the upper edge of the pocket flap perfectly aligned with those on the jacket body, not all of the pinstripes on the lower edge of the pocket pouch did.
This is because the front fitting dart extended underneath the pocket pouch and therefore shifted the relative distance between pinstripes beneath the pocket.
As you can see, the pinstripes on the centermost lower edge of the pocket pouch aligned with those on the jacket body, but those outside the dart did not:
Also observe how, because of the fitting dart, the side/outer edge of the pocket pouch sort of “floated” across from one pinstripe to the adjacent one.
Although the pinstripes on the pocket flap and pouch (mostly) aligned with those on the jacket body, the pocket flap and pouch were cut differently on the early and later versions of the suit jacket.
On one version of the jacket, the centermost edge of the pocket flap was on a pinstripe, while the outer edge extended slightly past a pinstripe:
I spotted this version of the pocket flap as early as mid-season 3 and during the blue suit’s final appearance in “The Waters of Mars” special, so it doesn’t seem to be a case of stylistic evolution in either direction.
A second version of the pocket flap was basically the opposite of the aforementioned; the outermost edge of the pocket flap was on a pinstripe, but the centermost edge extended past a pinstripe.
And a third version of the pocket flap had both the centermost and side/outer edges between pinstripes!
Note that while the pocket flap varied in width (and cut), the width of the pocket pouch itself appears to have remained consistent.
However, observe that in all three cases, the pocket flap was slightly wider than the pocket pouch itself; while the side/outer edge of the pocket pouch was on a pinstripe, each version of the pocket flap extended past the side/outer edge of the pocket so it was between pinstripes.
Why did the pocket style slightly change?
And why so many times???
The lower “faux-flap pockets” on the 10th Doctor’s blue suit were unusual in their construction.
I call them “faux-flap” pockets because the pocket flaps were not typical flaps, which are sewn onto the jacket body at the top and lift to provide access to the actual pocket opening underneath, sometimes even with hook-and-loop tape (“Velcro”) or snaps sewn to the underside of the pocket flap and jacket body to provide additional closing security.
In other words, the pocket flap is typically attached to the garment above the pocket opening to protect it.
However, on the 10th Doctor’s suit, the lower pockets had flaps which were open at the top so one could reach directly into the pocket without having to raise the flap out of the way.
The flap itself could raise and lower, but it was for aesthetic purposes only and actually “grew out” of the pocket opening itself, like an oversize welt.
Note that the pocket flap’s upper edge was not attached to the jacket body:
In the season 4 publicity photo below, you can actually see the tip of Tennant’s finger inserted into the pocket opening at the top of the “flap”:
And in this publicity photo, you can see his hand actually inside the pocket, behind the flap!
The actual pocket opening appeared to be approximately ¾” beneath the top of the flap; note the slight impression of the pocket opening on the flap itself.
Also note in the magnified image below that the flap’s fold line in relation to the actual pocket opening is clearly visible.
You can also observe the pocket opening in relation to the “flap” fold line in this publicity photo:
The upper edge of the flap was horizontally flush with the jacket’s lowermost front button at the center front.
Although the pocket (and pocket flap) spanned both the center front and side body panels, the pinstripes on the pocket flap aligned nicely with those of the jacket body.
As best I could tell, the front edge of the pocket flap was always on a pinstripe.
The side/outer edge of the pocket flap, however, was at least sometimes between pinstripes for some reason.
(Again note that the pocket extended slightly past the jacket front and onto the side panel.)
The pocket flaps appear to have been approximately 12 ½ pinstripes wide.
One final peculiarity about the “faux-pocket” flaps was the lower corners often seemed to want to curl upward.
The lower front of the 10th Doctor’s blue suit jacket was rounded; the curve began gracefully several inches beneath the lowermost button and gradually grew more pronounced toward the bottom edge of the jacket.
The total width of the curve appeared to be approximately seven pinstripes.
An additional fitting advantage with the 10th Doctor’s suit jacket was that the side portion of the jacket under the arm was a separate panel (some call this a “gusset,” similar in structure to the Star Trek: The Original Series Starfleet uniform tunics).