Costuming is so important to a character because it shows who they are in ways that maybe other ways couldn’t. Think about Rose Tyler’s costuming for a moment. It’s pretty casual, isn’t it? Although occasionally she gets a nice outfit here and there, Billie Piper’s costuming in the Doctor Who episodes typically includes baggy pants, plain shirts that don’t usually match the rest of her outfit, and thin, 2005 zip-up hoodies.
It’s amazing how much clothing can tell us about a person in a television show or a movie. Before we even knew anything about Rose as a character, we could likely tell that she isn’t very wealthy, and that she doesn’t dress like she expects much out of her day.
If you think about who she really is as a character, it makes a lot of sense why she’s dressed the way that she is. She lives a simple life with her mother working a simple job at a shop, and dates a boy named Mickey Smith. Her outfits are consistently casual throughout almost all episodes that she is in, even when her lifestyle gets more exciting and she spends most of her time with the Doctor. Perhaps they stay the same to reflect back on where she began so we are reminded where she started and who she has always been as a character.
Rose’s costuming definitely isn’t for impressing the audience, but is rather a way to be as real to the audience as possible about what kind of a person she is. She is somewhat a girly girl, but she is also unafraid of getting her hands dirty, thinking through difficult situations, and ultimately completing very important tasks that save the world in several episodes.
Comparing Rose’s clothing to Martha’s, Martha’s outfits are much more professional than Rose’s. Since she is an upper-class med student, her costuming looks are more polished and put together. She typically wears a brown leather jacket, bootcut jeans, and heels. Unlike Rose, she had a path that she was following for her life, and she had goals to become a doctor before meeting the Doctor (ironic, I know). Rose really wasn’t going anywhere before she met the Doctor.
Martha’s clothing involves dark colors that represent professionalism, while Rose’s clothing includes dull colors, and sometimes brighter, more youthful colors. Some of these clothing choices are even reflected in Rose’s mother’s wardrobe of bright sweatpants and matching jackets as well as big scrunchies and creative jewelry. Rose’s clothes are practically a more downplayed version of what her mother wears, which is far from professional.
Overall, costuming can be very effective and helpful to viewers to find out more about who characters are before their story even begins.