Tuesday 22 June 2010

Me And My Tennant Suit - Mitch

Today I have another entry in my occasional Me And My Tennnat Suit feature.
This time I have half of a very active husband and wife cosplay team.
Name: Mitch
Age: 42
Location: Southern California, USA
Favorite Doctor: The 9th or the 10th
Maker of my suits: LA’s garment district & Baron Boutique
Colour of suits: both brown

Mitch has (so far) gotten two brown Tennant suits: one in Summer of 2008; the second more recently in the Spring of 2010.

“My wife and I really enjoyed watching Doctor Who together. It’s one of our favorite series in recent years. We enjoy cosplaying together, so it was natural that I’d want to get a Tenth Doctor suit.”
“I've had more of the 10th Doctor’s episodes affect me deeply, but I feel like the 9th Doctor didn’t get as much of a chance as I would have liked. And the 9th Doctor is a big part of the reason why so many millions of viewers returned to Doctor Who, isn’t it? So let’s not forget Christopher Eccleston!”

Aimee has actually been actively costuming for over ten years, and she has her own website, aimeemajor.com, where you can see some of her costumes.

Mitch doesn’t cosplay as much as his wife he told me, “It basically takes a series that I really, really enjoy to get me to cosplay. Also, my wife has to find time to make the costume for me. I really enjoy it, though. I actually think I suit Captain Jack Harkness more than the Tenth Doctor, in the sense that I look more like John Barrowman, but it’s fun playing the Doctor.”

“My wife really LOVES Rose Tyler and the Doctor.

I've also done Kamina from the anime Gurren Lagann (see below, left) and a Spartan from the movie 300 (see below, right).

Photo by divideby0.com                 Photo by Jason at i360.com

His first suit was akin to Lisa’s thrift store purchase, having been shop bought off the peg.
“At first, my wife searched downtown LA’s garment district for a good striped suit, but nothing with that blue stripe could be found.” he told me. “We settled on a brown-with-white-stripe suit, where the stripes were somewhat similarly spaced. It was pretty affordable: a 3-piece suit complete with very Doctor-ish tie for under $100.”

The fit was baggier than The Doctor, though, so Mitch took it to his local trusted tailor and had the waist (mainly) taken in.

“This gave the whole suit a more mod, Doctor-ish feel. Overall, I think the look was pretty good for the price. The fabric was obviously more traditional suiting fabric, instead of the more easily wrinkled more cotton-ish fabric Tennant’s real suit has, but pretty good. At the time we got this first Doctor suit together, most of the other options for custom Doctor Who suits weren’t very accurate, and my wife really abhors making suits, so this was the best option we could manage!”
photos by divideby0.com

But Mitch is a TRUE cosplayer – and so is never satisfied with his costume if there is scope for improvement.

“My wife and I had such a fun time cosplaying Doctor Who that, a couple years later when my wife saw Justin’s improved Baron’s Boutique suit (with custom printed fabric), we decided to give that a shot.”

With Gallifrey 2010 looming, they thought it might not be possible to have a new suit in time....

“Well, we almost didn’t think it would be possible. But with Steve’s help and Justin and Baron’s, we somehow got the suit in time. The details on it were awesome! I don't think we'll try another suit after this, but we're really happy with this one and are really grateful to have it.
Eagle-eyed readers will spot that the location used for Mitch’s photoshoot is Vasquez Rocks which was promentantly seen in the Star Trek episode Arena.

The tie worn with the Baron’s suit is from Magnoli Clothiers (see left). “This tie is my wife's favorite because The Girl in the Fireplace, in which the tie first appeared, was her first Doctor Who episode (and still one of her favorites), and she loves that the Tenth Doctor wore it as his ‘last’ tie, too.”

I asked Mitch what he had been looking for in a suit when making their purchases, which had been done poles apart.
“For the first suit, we were looking for something as ‘close as we could get’ to the Tenth Doctor, inexpensively, without having to make or custom order a suit. For the second suit, we needed something accurate enough in both design and fit and fabric that it would be significantly more accurate than the previous suit for it to be worth our time and money.”

And how was the fit?
“Both suits fit me really well. The first garment district suit was taken in to fit me better and the second (Baron’s) suit was made to my measurements. I would say though that I have kind-of a muscular upper leg, and with the Baron’s suit, I’m a little worried about hulking out (tearing) the seams, as it’s so snug-fitting there. But... that’s how Tennant wears his pants, so it looks good that way... I just worry about the wear and tear on the garment.”
“I really like that the Baron’s suit has such accurate fabric: the way it folds, the color of it, the stripes. That, of course, was thanks to Justin printing up the fabric that way and doing all that research. And to Steve for helping us get it.”

“Also, the attention to detail on the improved Baron’s suit (again thanks to Justin for working with Baron’s on that) is really impressive. The pockets look so much like the Doctor’s. It’s really cool. When we got it in the mail, my wife just stared at it for a while, it looked so good!”

“Because the fabric is a printed cotton instead of wool, I do worry about how sturdy it might be, but this was necessary to achieve the right look. Also, as noted above, my legs on the suit are a bit close-fitting. But these aren’t really issues that were anyone's fault, persay. We asked for close-fitting pants, after all.”

Photos thanks to anastasiakim.com

So how often does Mitch get to wear his suit?
“I wear the suit for photoshoots and to Doctor Who, comic and sci-fi conventions. Several times a year, basically.”

“One of the most fun things I’ve done in the suit was attending a Doctor Who panel at San Diego Comic Con 2009. We somehow caught the attention of official video crews there and thus ended up on the Doctor Who: The Complete Specials DVD. It was the last Tenth Doctor season, and we got to see RTD and Tennant in person. It was a really special kind of closure on that era of the fandom for us.”

“When I’m at a convention and I’m wearing the suit, although I don’t really role-play, I feel a certain responsibility to this character that I admire so much. I feel like this costume looks close enough in appearance to the real Tenth Doctor, that I have to carry myself the way the Doctor might. Almost like a walk-around at the Disneyland parks, I feel like I have to live up to the Doctor.”

But now Matt Smith has gotten his feet well and truly under the table, would Mitch switch is allegiances? “I’m still considering that.” he told me,  “I wear braces everyday for my work suits, so that is definitely a draw of Matt’s Eleventh-Doctor costume for me. But I wouldn’t stop wearing my Tenth Doctor suit. No one will ever replace the Tenth Doctor. He’s unforgettable. Plus, we’ve invested a fair amount in the ‘Ten’ costume by now, haven’t we?”

I’ve asked all my Tennant Suit owners if they thought having a stylishly dressed Doctor (following one who was a bit more grunge) had inspired fans to dress a little more snappily themselves. Mitch had strong views on this: “The short answer is yes. Another way of answering it is that the Ninth Doctor’s outfit was so ordinary that it was difficult for fans who wanted to costume to imitate it. (Harder to be recognizable.) The Fourth Doctor’s scarf and hat, and the Tenth Doctor’s striped suit and chucks, are really recognizable”

“Directly in answer to your question though, I think that yes, younger fans who normally might wear a t-shirt and jeans with chucks, might be inclined to wear a suit and a tie... or even braces and a bow-tie... and to still feel that they look COOL. (Bowties are cool btw.) For me personally, I wear a full suit and braces everyday for work, so it didn’t make me dress snappier, I already was a snappy dresser which is probably part of the reason why I liked the Tenth Doctor’s outfit so much. I probably have about 12 suits for work. I don’t wear belts with them. I wear braces. Each suit has at least one pair of braces (in different colors and patterns) and matching ties. I enjoy trying to match the braces, suits and ties together.
I tried braces for the first time with casual clothing just before I went to college, when Back to the Future just came out, and I thought Michael J. Fox looked cool in braces. But I didn’t, not in jeans, anyway. So eventually I started wearing braces with my suits (and ONLY my suits). I think it’s kind of part of my ‘look’ now. I take some pride in wearing braces when most people in America do not. Also, my wife thinks they’re cute!”

“The coat we have is from honestdragonchina.”
Oh dear, never mind . . . .

While I had Mitch’s attenrtion, I couldn’t miss the chance to speak a little further with his wife, Aimee.

“I’ve been cosplaying for about ten years and I tend to vacillate between accurate re-creation costumes and more casual (perhaps less accurate) ‘for fun’ costumes. Not counting my husband’s Tenth Doctor and Captain Jack costumes, I’ve put together at least seven or eight Doctor Who costumes for myself in about two years.”

“Cosplaying Doctor Who marked a change in the way I usually costumed. Prior to this I made all my costumes from scratch and none of them were ‘plain clothes’ type clothing, they were mostly fantastical. I tend to not be interested in costuming from shows that feature ‘normal’ clothing partially because I worry that I won’t look enough like the actor in just a pair of jeans (like in Rose Tyler’s case). But I just loved Doctor Who too much and had to cosplay it. I couldn’t stop myself.”

“An added draw was that the clothes that some of the characters wore in Doctor Who were attainable. They actually existed. Somehow it made me feel like I had a part of the show if I had the same jacket that Rose had.”

“I still do recreation costuming from scratch, I love the challenge of it and I enjoy sewing, but Doctor Who opened my eyes to other ways of approaching cosplaying. Since I relate to Rose a lot, most of my Doctor Who costumes are Rose,  but I’ve also done a historically based Madame de Pompadour from The Girl In The Fireplace.

“But more suitable (teehee) for your blog is my only ‘Doctor’ costume, a really silly musical Tenth Doctor suit. (Gallifrey 2009)
I love sparkly musicals and for some reason I thought it would be really funny to do a musical dancing skit with Doctor Who.”

“A lot of my friends thought I was joking, but I wasn’t! I really felt it must be done! I was also an invited Guest of Gallifrey that year and I wanted to do something special for the masquerade to amuse people. I realized that one of my Doctor Who loving coworkers was a former ballroom dancer and might be converted to the cause. The only way I could convince him to be part of the skit idea (and also to teach us ‘moves’) would be if no one had to see his face on stage. So we had him be a Dancing Tardis, detailed with light-up lantern, glitter, sequins, white sequined chucks and Michael Jackson sequined gloves. I ended up recruiting a Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Master and Donna amongst my friends!”

photo by divideby0.com

Since I really hate making suits, I found a women’s suit set in navy (with red stripes no less) at metrostyle.com (they don’t carry it anymore) and then I painstakingly covered it in sequin trim.
You can see a blurb on how I did that here: Disco Suit Time

I'm a pretty curvy woman so I wore a velcro back-brace (not neoprene) to strap myself down up top. That’s about the best I could do to make myself a bit more manly, but I’ll never be a skinny man! To complete the look, I had sequined burgundy chucks from converse.com.”

“The end results were very silly and entirely satisfying. I don’t look a thing like ‘The Doctor’, but wearing an entirely sequin-covered suit was mah-vel-ous. People’s reactions to disco versions of their favorite characters were so adorable. People would squeal with glee. The whole point of the musical Tennant suit was to make people laugh and smile and to give me a chance to be a total ham with my friends. So I think it succeeded on all counts even if it's not the most accurate Tennant suit out there. It did what it had to, bring people a chuckle!”

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