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In Doctor Who, the Silence are always portrayed as wearing suits with a white collared shirt and a tie. Is it explained whether they have always worn this?

Humans do not perceive them so there is little point in mimicking their fashion, especially as the head shape would give them away.

If we saw one from the 12th century would they still be wearing suits, or would they be wearing split hose and braise?

Do the Silence wear different clothes when in different parts of the world? Would they undo their tie if they were in the Sahara, etc?

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In Universe

It has not been explained why the Silence wear suits (or for that matter clothing) at all. They do not create technology, they harvest it from species they compel to make what they need, providing the information necessary to build it.

With that in mind there are a couple of possible answers:

  1. The appearance of the Silents in suits is a mental construct of an authority figure created by them as part of their obedience compulsion. This would likely mean in previous eras, they wore whatever the dominant members of that society wore that would add to a desire to please them. The problem with this is it would not explain why the Doctor sees them the same way as any human might (cultural transference could cover it, though).
  2. The Silent appear to all have the same physical dimensions, so they have humans tailor clothing which appears as a nondescript suit and tie, reinforcing the psychic illusion they are all the same, or as part of a psychic trigger like a hypnotist using a stopwatch. See the suit, feel the compulsion to obey the suit and the Silent within it.

However:

  • Does this mean there is an entire collection of humans who create suits of a particular size and build, add a shirt and black tie, hang them up and promptly forget they made them? A local Silent makes a "suit run" when his outfit starts getting a little shabby?

  • I like the idea of a "psychic suit" better because it boggles the mind of a society of people wearing clothes that no one remembers making, cleaning or destroying...

Behind the Scenes

Steven Moffat has said that he was inspired by Edvard Munch's The Scream when creating the Silence's appearance. He has also cited that the urban legends of the Men in Black inspired him to have Silents wear a black suit and tie. Interview > TVScoops

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  • I like the idea of them wearing suits because it makes people obey as it leads to the question of whether they wear suits because of the implicit authority or whether people feel (on an instinctive level) there is implicit authority in wearing a suit because the Silence wear them!! – Stefan May 22 '13 at 16:07
  • Good answer. I agree that the "psychic suit" idea makes sense, especially as the Doctor used the same technique to appear clothed when he was naked in The Time of the Doctor (an episode that also include the Silence). – Blackwood Jun 13 '16 at 21:27
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Maybe its the other way around - suits are the natural clothing of the silence and humans have just subconsciously adopted this clothing style. So suits and ties are nothing typical, ordinary human but instead a total alien artifact.

  • I never really thought about it, but when I read the question this is the first thing I thought of. This seems quite likely (although there's no-way to prove or disprove it) – Matt Feb 21 '17 at 13:50

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