If I said the name Sarah Arthur to you, you might not be immediately familiar with who that is. If however I asked you what you thought of the coat worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in his iteration as Sherlock Holmes on the wildy popular BBC series Sherlock, I'd probably get a positive response. (Unless you don't like the show or the costuming, in which case, why are you reading this?)
The famous coat from London-based designers Belstaff is now discontinued, but it would've cost you an eye-watering £1,350 to get a hold of one. Ouch.
BAFTA winning costume designer Ray Holman was in charge of the pilot episode, so he's the one who gave us the iconic coat and set the tone of Sherlock's look, but Sarah Arthur has headed up the costume design throughout the shows run, and is expected to continue when Season 4 finally gets around to filming next year.
"The smallest detailing is key for the authenticity of the characters. Subtly and sensitivity, means the characters/actors can find their own identities within their costumes. Costumes need to be realistic and work within the story lines to epitomise the characters in question, and be adaptable to the many action scenes, which are often involved.
I didn't want it to ever start looking like a fashion show - they were supposed to be able to wear these clothes to accentuate their character." - Arthur
Personally I think she's done a pretty great job, and as Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) says, disguise (or costuming) is always a self-portrait. So whilst we continue to wait in anticipation for Season 4, let's take a look at what the characters have worn throughout the shows run thus far.
In addition to the coat, the next most iconic piece of the detective's ensemble is the blue scarf he's usually seen wearing. The original was a vintage Paul Smith and is no longer available, though the designer does sell a newer equivalent of the design. As they only had one scarf, which stressed out Arthur as she feared it getting lost or damaged, in Season 2 they traded it out for a blue striped Hugo Boss scarf, again this is no longer available for general sale.
The shirts he wears are Dolce and Gabbana main-line dress shirts, slim fit to match Cumberbatch's figure. The purple shirt (shown above) has become the most iconic of these. As Arthur explains that Sherlock wouldn't take much of an interest in fashion, they went with nothing overly fancy - classic Spencer Hart suits, just modern enough to fit the tone.
Watson (Martin Freeman)'s black coat in Season 1 recalls his days in the army, a Haversack 'shooting' jacket with a black corduroy collar and leather shoulder guard. Not quite as expensive as Sherlock's coat, this one would still run you £725.00.
"I wasn't overly keen on Watson's original coat from the pilot - but [the character] had just come out of the army so I knew where they were coming from. I wanted to keep him old school, with check shirts, but make it a little bit more interesting."
The cable-knit jumper he sports later in the season was somewhat of an accidental find, from a little shop on London's Carnaby Street. Like the shooting jacket Arthur intended for this to give Watson a "homely, slightly army-ish feel". He wears jeans by Japanese brand Uniqlo Co., chosen by Freeman himself. Not only does the wearing of jeans suit his character, it also visually contrasts him with Sherlock in his suits and formal trousers.
In Season 1 Moriarty appears wearing his trademark Vivienne Westwood suit, and it's the only wardrobe piece to be directly referenced in the show. During the swimming pool scene in S1E03, The Great Game, he straightens his jacket and references it, proudly proclaiming "Westwood". The suit features a skull and crossbone lining, which matches the Alexander McQueen dark blue skull print tie he wears.
"I teamed [the suit] with a Spencer Hart round collar shirt and an Alexander McQueen tie with skulls on it. It just worked - because it had a slightly sinister feel."
The black cashmere coat he wears on the rooftop of St Bart's in S2E03, The Reichenbach Fall, is shorter and tighter than Sherlock's. It's designed by French boutique The Kooples, and most of the brand's jewellery, buttons and embroidery feature a skull motif - so there's a theme. His clothing is sleek and the skulls on his costuming are subtle, so that ties in well with the nature of his character.