With Number 13 being the first female doctor, it would seem obvious that the costume would undergo some changes to reflect the long-awaited and overdue switch in gender. Having said that, the new Doctor's wardrobe pays homage to what has come before — although with some clear differences as well.
Whittaker, who has taken over the role from Peter Capaldi, says in the February issue of Doctor Who magazine that she worked with costume designer Ray Holman to perfect the look she wanted:
"Ray and I designed the costume from scratch. We're old friends because we did five years of Broadchurch together, and it's an incredibly collaborative relationship, really creative. He was able to take a sometimes bizarre explanation from me and then offer up exactly what I was trying to articulate. I'd have an idea and then he'd take it to the next level. My acorn of an idea would turn into an oak tree as soon as Ray got hold of it."
Whittaker adds that she and Holman began designing the outfit as soon as she won the role:
"We started in August and it went on until October. The very first meeting we had about the costume was all very secret and incognito. As we were talking I was completely distracted by the color of the wallpaper behind us. I told Ray I absolutely loved that color, and that's the color of the trousers."
Whittaker's take on the Doctor's duds is perhaps a bit less ornate than previous incarnations have worn, and in keeping with that, she acknowledges that at least one piece of the costume originated off the rack:
"I did try on a T-shirt that was off the peg and I really liked it, but there were elements of it that didn't quite work. It kind of went through so many forms in Ray's workshop -- he cut it to the right shape and put the print on the front."
The costume is already the subject of debate and inspiration among the show's fans. The magazine interview took place while Whittaker was shooting the first few episodes of her inaugural season as the Doctor (and before her first appearance as the regenerated Time Lord in the Christmas special), and she admitted that she had not otherwise felt the seismic effect on her own life of playing one of sci-fi's most beloved and longest-running characters just yet:
"At this moment in time, my life outside the job is essentially the same. I'm filming all day and going home at night. The world of Doctor Who is the job I'm on, so that's very new, but all the external things that come with playing the Doctor haven't really kicked in yet, so it's been a kind of nice slow burn."
The new season of Doctor Who will premiere later this year.