Written by Bertie Bowen


Dressing like… the cast of Doctor Zhivago

Fashion stylist Bertie Bowen channels the clothes and spirit of a fictional character. This week, as the BFI rereleases Dr Zhivago for its 50th anniversary, she’s celebrating the bleakness and savagery of winter.

All photos: Turner Entertainment/ Time Warner.

All photos: Turner Entertainment/ Time Warner.

Winter is here. I say it every year but, fuck me, it’s cold. How will we cope with the constant drippy nose, the numb fingers, the chapped lips, the earache and the godawful, wind-whipped hair? I sought out a film to inspire my winter wardrobe while also warming the cockles of my heart: Doctor Zhivago. Plus, this epic love story has been digitally restored and returns to cinemas this Friday.

I can’t pick just one character so instead I am going to show you how Doctor Zhivago as a sartorial concept could be the answer to all your winter wardrobe woes, from cosy head to toasty toe:


Without a hat you are an idiot, so the saying that I just made up goes, because we all know that heat rises and you will lose that heat much faster if you don’t wear one. It’s simple science. Plus, there’s a hat for everyone and all head shapes.

I like a beret, as mentioned in previous articles, or a chunky knitted beanie style, Wool and the Gang have some great ones if you’re willing to splash out. If you’re a Dr Z purist then a furry or sheepskin traditional Russian shapka hat is a good choice; very chic and, I imagine, incredibly warm.

Frosty beardFACE

Facial hair will keep your face from freezing (although possibly with the unfortunate side-effect of frozen icicles of snot). In my opinion, most faces look more attractive with a beard, perhaps because the onlooker has less face to judge but also because a thick, luxurious beard is an impressive sight.

Sadly, not everyone is able to cultivate one so if you cannot grow a beard you will have to make do with a muff for extra warmth. No I’m not being vulgar: if you don’t know what a muff is then you obviously weren’t a child in the 1980s with a mother that liked dressing you up as a 19th-century aristocrat with a penchant for Laura Ashley. Victoriana is on-trend again this season too so you shouldn’t look too out of place.


Winter is like war: it’s bleak and savage so don’t try to dress it up as anything else. A sparkly, festive jumper is not going to cheer anyone up. Winter is the time to indulge in your favourite shades of grey, from deep charcoal to soft dove. There’s nothing like a lovely bit of marl on a crisp winter morning to make you feel right at home.


A coat should be like it used to be: thick, warm and super-long. I’m talking ankle-length please, absolutely no shorter. If you find a nice (preferably grey) one that costs less than three months’ (London) rent then please, for the love of God, tell me about it because I am yet to find one. I also hate that my free time is spent typing the words ‘long, grey, coat’ into Google with no joy.

Wear said coat with the collar up. It provides protection from the wind and, yeah, it looks cool too.


Boots, like your coat, need to be long. Knee-high is good because then you will NEVER have a reason to wear those hideous rubber wellies that make you look like an over-enthusiastic festivalgoer or a lord of the manor who got lost and inexplicably ended up roaming Oxford Street with multiple Primark bags. I’m including men in the knee-high boots suggestion; Omar Sharif has convinced me they look good (fellas, let’s start the trend).

Zhivago BOOTSSo there’s my guide to braving the cold for the next few months. Of course there is always the option of staying in, whacking up the heating, snuggling under a blanket on the sofa, sipping Baileys and watching a good film. And I think you might know which film I would suggest. Good luck comrades!


  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Bertie Bowen

Stylist, writer and mother living in East London. A clompy shoed, curly haired, Radio 4 enthusiast. www.mothershoppers.com