The Steampunk TARDIS Gown

Now that the Women of Valour Calendar is officially out and on sale, I thought I would show off my latest Cosplay.

Model: J.M. Frey
Costume (The TARDIS Gown): designed by J.M. Frey; built byAshley Katryna and Kenneth Shelley
Parasol: Hand Dyed to match the costume by Bedford Falls Headware
Wig Styling and Makeup: J.M. Frey
Jewellery: J.M. Frey and Red Moon Glassware


Wow! Big thanks to Neat-O-Rama, Mental Floss, and the Official Doctor Who Tumblr for featuring this dress! There are now a bunch more photoshoots over here on my Tumblr and in the galleries below. Enjoy!

Photos by Elemental Photography

Photos by Vlade Shestakov (taken on an actual antique camera with silver plates)

by Valde Shestekov

Photos from FutureCon I

Inspiration Detailing

Photos by K. Meyers (For the Women of Valour Calendar)

About the Costume

This costume is, of course, meant to be the TARDIS. The TARDIS is the Doctor’s time-and-space ship, from Doctor Who.

I commissioned the costume in April of 2011 from Kenneth Shelley of Strange Days Costuming. The embroidery and pattern work was done by Ashley Kung, whom I would reccomend highly. Usually I do the sewing and designing myself, but this time I knew that my ability with a needle would not match up to the ambition of my design, and so went to some of the area’s Master Level Cosplayers.

This dress debuted officially at FutureCon 2011-2012, and was featured in the organization’s charity calendar. (Unfortunately, the 2011-2012 calendar is now sold out).

I thought up the design in 2010 and played with it for several months, looking at historical patterns and fabric samples frequently before deciding to comission the gown in the spring of 2011.

I was a little dismayed when Neil Gaiman’s episode “The Doctor’s Wife” aired in late 2011, featuring Idris (a woman whose body the TARDIS takes over), but decided that the patterns I had chosen and the Idris costume were different enough from my concept to continue to have my gown made. Besides, I’m the TARDIS, not Idris.

Though, inevitably the comparisons to “Sexy” were made, and I can’t say that I mind them. I’ve come to think of this costume as what Idris/Sexy might have worn if she had become a reoccurring character. (I was also very pleased when Mr. Gaiman commented on the dress via Twitter.)

I chose an Edwardian-ish/Victorian-ish look (there is a full pillow bustle and all the underpinnings) because the Doctor often looks like a bit of an Edwardian Dandy, and I figured the costume would go well with any Doctors I met at conventions.

Choosing the colour for the wig was, actually, the most difficult part! In the end I chose this shade of copper because it is similar to the interior of the TARDIS.I styled the wig, and made all the accessories myself, save the hat. For this event, and borrowed the light on my hat from The Doctor Who Society of Canada’s room party decor for the night! I am also wearing yellow contact lenses, to evoke the Heart of the TARDIS. The throat-broach has a standard yale key, like the one that the Doctor gave Martha and Jack Harkness, and the belt is hung with small pieces of electronics. There’s a circuit board, knobs and handles, gears, a clock that I dismantled and aged to make it look as if it was falling apart as it dangled from my chains, and of course, a sonic screwdriver.  The belt is meant to resemble the control console.The blue is a gorgeous silk that has a dark pattern that resembles wood grain, and the underskirt is of an incredible brass/teal fabric that shines both colours as I walk, which evokes the teal lighting of the new TARDIS interior. Kenneth also made the steel-boned corset and trimmed it with the brass fabric.

There is Gallifreyan writing on the skirt, and the standard “Free For Use” signage has been added to the jacket. Both are embroidered.

It’s not entirely finished – there are lights that are going into the grommets on the brass underskirt, which we haven’t found an opportunity to add yet, and eventually I would like to track down one of the more Gallifreyian TARDIS key toys and remake it as a brass key for my throat-broach.


I generally wear this costume out to convention dances, so if you want to see it person, that’s where you can expect it!


Photo by Christine Mak

Here I am parodying the famous photo of me as Belle that Christine Mak took ages ago.

Photo by Christine Mak

Photo by Christine Mak

At the "Friday Society" book launch. I don't remember who took this photo. If it was you, let me know so I can credit you!

At the “Friday Society” book launch. I don’t remember who took this photo. If it was you, let me know so I can credit you!


Want to read more about J.M. Frey’s love of Doctor Who? Pick up the book!


Or check out her article GADGETS, GOGGLES, AND THE DOCTOR in Enlightenment Magazine vol 168

Enlightenment Magazine


JM FreyThe Steampunk TARDIS Gown