Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Rose's 1869 Outfit (Doctor Who, "The Unquiet Dead")

November 25th! Only a month to Christmas: what am I going to wear? I was pondering that last night so I started to search for some pictures of Victorian outfits seen on Tele. This led me to remember a specific Doctor Who (2005) episode, The Unquiet Dead.

The action of this episode is set in Cardiff, 1869. Of course, it was supposed to be Naples, 1860, but The Doctor got the flight a bit wrong. There they meet Charles Dickens who is presenting "A Christmas Carol" to a packed theatre, only to be interrupted by ghost-like aliens, The Gelth.

Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, "The Unquiet Dead", Doctor Who (2005)

Before leaving the TARDIS, so as to not start a riot in her jeans and t-shirt, Rose grabs an outfit from the wardrobe ("through there, first left, second right, third on the left, go straight ahead, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on your left").

Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, "The Unquiet Dead", Doctor Who (2005)

From what I can see, she wears a burgundy satin skirt, a black beaded short sleeved bodice, a feathered hair piece and a black cape. It's hard to be sure of the colour and details due to the lighting (everything happens at night, either out in the streets on inside with only candle light).

In this next picture we see her without her cape:

Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler and Simon Callow as Charles Dickens, "The Unquiet Dead", Doctor Who (2005)

In this one, we see a close-up of her bodice. For some reason, here it looks like it is burgundy red, same as the skirt, with black lace overlay, but it is the only picture in which it looks to be any other colour than black:

Billie Piper as Rose Tyler and Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, "The Unquiet Dead", Doctor Who (2005)

Whatever the details of her outfit, one thing is for sure, it is not exactly period. In Victorian times, in retrospect, we consider the period from 1850 to 1870 (approximately) to be the Hoop Era; this is when great big, wide, round skirts were in (think "Southern Belle" look). Bustle gowns only began around the 1870, and they were still quite imposing. This is now called the First Bustle Era. The Second Bustle Era came is associated with the 1880's and we the see a more natural body, with less cage-structure skirt (think of the costumes in Anna Karenina - 1997).

Timeline of Costume History - 19th Century (from "The Costumer's Manifesto")

So, surprise, surprise, Rose's costume is not historically accurate. Oh well! It's still lovely.

Now what I would like to do if I had time (but seriously, who am I kidding?) is a burgundy red taffeta or satin bustle skirt, probably using Burda 7880, a black velvet bodice decorated with beaded trim and lace, using maybe Butterick 4301 as a guide (but that I'm not certain of), a black velvet cape or caplet (I haven't made up my mind yet) with a wide ribbon to tie a bow on my neck and some sort of feathered hair piece.

Yep, that's what I would do. If only I could find the time... Maybe next year!


  1. Hey, there. We just watched Unquiet Dead after being at Gallifrey this last weekend. And you're right about her not being quite time period correct but I'd like to point out that the date given was Christmas Eve 1869 and from what I've seen that was the beginning of the bustle era and her skirt looks like it was the beginning bustle without the wire support underneath it.

  2. I want the shoes she wears with that outfit, but I can't find them. :(