Shoulder Pads and Sleeve Heads
Turning our attention from the jacket body to the sleeves, it should come as no surprise that Tennant’s suits had shoulder padding.
It was often easily observable whenever he would extend his arm to operate his sonic screwdriver:
Or a gun, as the case might be …
And, of course, one could easily see the shoulder padding whenever the Doctor reached upward:
Or operated the TARDIS:
In fact, all he really had to do was lean over a little bit whichever way for the shoulder padding to be visible:
The effect of the shoulder padding was especially obvious on a couple occasions; The Powers That Be must’ve wanted to beef up Tennant’s unusually slim figure.
The shoulder pads themselves were probably felt shoulder pads commonly used for tailored projects, or even custom-made specifically for David Tennant’s physique; in any event, they weren’t the standard “off-the-shelf” manufactured shoulder pads one would buy at the local fabric store.
The pad itself was briefly visible during a particularly poignant moment of Tennant’s final (proper) outing, when Wilfred hugged the Doctor, who was wearing a torn and distressed suit:
The 10th Doctor’s brown suit jacket sleeves were, of course, also equipped with sleeve heads (not to be confused with shoulder pads).
The sleeves themselves were two-piece sleeves (upper and lower), as typically seen on men’s suit jackets – note the seam lines in the sleeves:
Although the sleeves were cut so that they leaned slightly forward from the elbow down (as is common practice with men’s suit jackets), the actual grain of the sleeves was oriented so the pinstripes hung vertically from the armscye.
The set-in sleeve cap naturally had some ease, and the upper armscye was, ideally, perfectly smooth (or perhaps had just the faintest impression of ease).
The sleeve caps generally looked their best early in Tennant’s run, before the suits were subjected to extensive use, production demands, cleaning, etc.
However, the extensive production use began to take its toll on the suits almost immediately, and the sleeve cap ease began to rear its angry head:
In fact, sometimes the sleeve cap ease looked downright terrible, by conventional standards … even only a few episodes into Tennant’s run.
The wrinkled upper armscye/sleeve cap was probably due to the suit jacket being made of a thin, lightweight cotton fabric rather than wool or a material specifically intended for suiting.
The effect, while undesirable from a traditional tailoring perspective, was perhaps somewhat less objectionable from a Doctor Who perspective; Tennant’s Doctor often had more of a crumply, wrinkled look (rather than stuffy, prim, and proper). Some wrinkles here and there on his suit were arguably in keeping with his character.
That said, I doubt the wrinkled armscye was an intentional creative design/stylistic decision – probably more of a result of the strenuous production demands and numerous cleanings. The sleeve caps looked wonderful at the beginning of Tennant’s run , but as the episodes went by they generally deteriorated.
As you may recall, a similar effect could be observed on the collars and lapels.
“Wear and tear” such as this was probably a major factor regarding the introduction of the blue suits at the beginning of Tennant’s second year (season three), and the new round a brown suits introduced the following year in season four.
The lower sleeves were closed, not vented, and decorated with three small (I estimate ½”) brown four-hole buttons close to the back seam line.
Like the larger buttons on the front of the jacket, these buttons were not solid brown, but more of a swirl of several browns:
Naturally, the suit jacket sleeves were blind-hemmed.