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Look of the Week: Yaz carries on the stylish companion tradition on Doctor Who

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Dec 9, 2018, 3:00 PM EST

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

The unveiling of a new Doctor comes with a lot of fanfare, including the obligatory costume change. This will essentially become their uniform for the duration of their time on Doctor Who — Whittaker has just confirmed she will be back for Season 12. In recent years bow ties, a blue Crombie coat with a red lining and Converse have all become signature pieces. Yellow suspenders are just one part of the 13th Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) fabulous ensemble, but it is actually companion Yaz’s (Mandip Gill) style we are celebrating this week.

13th Doctor Who

Credit: BBC

My first memories of Doctor Who are a mix of fear and excitement, which makes sense considering I was only seven when Sylvester McCoy's reign as the Seventh Doctor came to an end. I also remember feeling a sense of awe toward his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) probably because of how cool she looked in a patch-covered MA-1 black bomber jacket — it was the late ‘80s after all — funky tights, black boots, and a black skirt.

As with each Doctor, the costume choices for the companion — or in the case of the latest series, three companions — varies. The garments are less stylized than the lead, and they are more grounded in the trends of the time. Hence Ace’s signature jacket. Yaz is introduced in her actual work attire when she first meets the Doctor in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” and while the time spent with Yaz in her police uniform is brief, her training informs a lot about how fearless she is.

Doctor Who Season 11 companions

Credit: BBC America

In fact, what Yaz wears on a weekly basis wouldn’t look too out of place on a U.S. crime procedural or comedy like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The leather jacket is very Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) with a dash of Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), a garment that is often shorthand for a tough exterior. Yaz’s experience as a police officer means she can keep a cool head in even the most bizarre circumstances — see mutant spiders, murderous ancient species and killer aliens — but this isn’t the only skill that makes her a vital part of the team. She is particularly adept at talking to people who have just experienced a trauma, whether it is seeing your grandmother executed as part of a witch trial or believing your father is never coming home.

Costume designer Ray Holman ensures that Yaz’s empathetic side is visible through her clothing. The leather jacket is the tough exterior, but the colorful sweaters worn beneath show off a softer side. The sign of a good sweater is if you own it in more than one color; a white star Mint Velvet crew neck is such a hit that Yaz has it in orange and baby blue. Pink, white and purple knits also feature in this cozy top rotation. Skinny jeans paired with sneakers or boots give outfit relatability for head-to-toe.

Doctor Who

Credit: BBC America

It sounds similar to a character like Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), but unlike Jessica, she has color in her wardrobe. Whereas the Doctor’s charity shop bought ensemble has a kooky aesthetic, Yaz could walk into a bar without raising a single eyebrow as a result of her clothes. Empathy and fearlessness are two of the weapons in her arsenal, another is that people (or aliens) might underestimate her — the same can be said for Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh). This is part of their strength as a unit.

In an interview with the BBC, Gill talked about her collaboration with costume designer Ray Holman, noting they did venture out into London together to get an idea for where to take Yaz sartorially, but ultimately she had only one concern, “I was very much like 'You choose so long as I can run in the footwear and stay warm through winter.” The majority of Doctor Who is shot in Wales, so the layers are important. No running in heels debates needed here, Yaz’s boots and sneakers are not going to slow her down.

The first episode did see Yaz in a longer faux fur jacket — as well as her trusty leather — bordering on the teddy bear coat trend. This might have something to do with the cold weather Gill mentions when discussing Yaz's costuming. But since then, leather and denim have dominated. These two jacket styles work on Earth, in the past, present and other dimensions.

Doctor Who, Season 11

Credit: BBC America

There is one notable departure from her casual attire in episode 6, “Demons of the Punjab.” Kicking off with a birthday celebration for Yaz's Nani Umbreen (Amita Suman) sees Yaz getting a gift that gives her more questions than answers about her family history. "What’s the point in having a mate with a time machine if you can’t go back and see your nan when she was young?" asks Yaz, even if there is the potential for messing with history in a way that could impact Yaz's very existence. 

Going back in time to August 17, 1947, and the day India was partitioned, has Yaz switching out her leather for an olive green blazer paired with a purple sweater, black jeans and sneakers — she might need to run. And while it is a slight style deviation, it keeps in line with everything we have seen Yaz in previously.

A smashed watch isn’t her only new accessory as she is also sporting a bee necklace from Alex Monroe. This is the same jewelry company that makes the Doctor’s stars and hands earring ear cuff. Both are available to buy if you are looking for a gift for the Doctor Who fan in your life, or even if you want to splurge on yourself. Again, this is a delicate touch to show a softer side to Yaz. Family is a broader theme this season, both the family you already have and the one you make. This episode and the gift Nani Umbreen gives her reinforces this notion.

Yaz is far from the first stylish companion; there is the aforementioned Ace, and in more recent years Amy Pond's (Karen Gillan) plaid shirts and leather, Bill Potts’ (Pearl Mackie) silk bomber jackets and Clara Oswald’s (Jenna Coleman) penchant for cute collars and sweaters have all been relatable style goals. These are kind of outfits that are all available from affordable brands such as H&M, Topshop and Urban Outfitters.  

Off-screen, actress Mandip Gill made a sartorial splash at Comic-Con earlier this year alongside co-stars Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole. The co-stars that color block together, stay together, and Gill in a yellow suit is very much a mood.

Gill also attended the British Independent Film Awards last Sunday, ditching Yaz's low-key attire for a fancy burgundy Amanda Wakely frock. At an event sponsored by MAC, Gill's berry lipstick is on point.

Mandip Gill


Iridescent snake print bowed Lucy Choi London stilettos are just the shoes for the holiday season but don’t worry. You will be able to get your festive fix of Doctor Who and her companions, moving from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. And I can’t think of a better way of starting 2019 than with the 13th Doctor and her stylish cohorts.
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