- The Queen's Gambit -See How Beth Harmon's Style Evolves Into A Chessboard With These 51 Outfits
If you are part of the record-setting 62 million households that watched The Queen's Gambit in its first 28 days, then you helped make the show Netflix's biggest scripted limited series to date. Just ICYMI.
And if you were as ravenous as I was to watch Beth Harmon's growth as a chess player and as a person, then I'm sure another, more sartorial evolution did not slip past you either. Yes, I am talking about World Champion Beth Harmon's trajectory into a human chessboard that was by all means intentional.
The costumes of The Queen's Gambit were so pivotal to the development of Beth's character that they are now a feature of a virtual exhibit organized by Netflix and the Brooklyn Museum, along with the costumes from The Crown. "The Queen and The Crown" is an intimate look at the role that fashion plays in the lives of the series' female leads.
In a Q&A for the exhibit hosted by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, Gabriele Binder emphasized the importance of Chessboard Beth's emergence, as "everywhere, she’s searching kind of for herself," she said. "So she tried to find it in fashion."
Binder's favorite look of Beth's to resemble the dangerous game she plays? Her crisp, white shirt with a black line down the middle that she wears in tournaments and comfortably at home, because "it’s so simple, it’s so modern, it’s so like nothing, but it’s so good for the picture."
Throughout Beth's journey from novice player in the orphanage basement with Mr. Shaibel to renowned victor over Borgov, she dons plaids, checks, lined patterns, and variations on black, white, or a combination thereof to reflect her assimilation into the chess world. I've gathered every single outfit, episode by episode, to show her style transformation. Now, in the words of Beth Harmon, "let's play."
Beth's story begins when she's taken into an orphanage, where her biggest form of fashion escape is her drab uniform she wears every day accompanied by a hairstyle akin to the Will Byers bowl cut. But she does rock a plaid dress when she demolishes the members of the high school chess club in simultaneous games, nodding to her future ensembles.
Take the orphanage uniform and age it up a few years. After Beth wins the Kentucky State Championship and beats Harry Beltik, she takes her prize money right on down the department store and eyes a new plaid dress.
Beth wears her new dress at a tournament in Cincinnati, in different combos to emphasize that this is a fashionista on a budget. She wears a solid black dress with a white collar for her Life magazine interview and for a dinner with her mother, Alma, but she really kicks her ensembles up a notch with her checkerboard style dress at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas. The lines on the collar of her sailor-style blue and beige dress in her game against Benny Watts also resemble the straight lines of a chessboard.
Beth sees plaid and checks everywhere she looks, and I'm not just talking about on the ceiling. They're the patterns of the clothes she wears to class and borrows from friends after a late-night kickback. Beth graduates high school in this episode, and the colors of her dress are a sophisticated black and off-white.
She heads to Mexico City for a competition, where her wardrobe consists of a black and white checked bathing suit, her U.S. Open checked dress, a white shirt with tiny checks all over, and an off-white dress she pairs with a white, sheer raincoat. But her statement competition dress especially features large buttons with a crosshatch, paying homage to the lines of a chessboard.
Reeling from Alma's death after Mexico City, we find Beth at home in Kentucky training with Beltik, where we see her in black and white daywear to PJ's, but not without a checked sweater and shirt thrown in for good measure (and one of which she repurposes for tournament-wear).
When she plays against Benny Watts again at the U.S. Championship Competition in Ohio, we are introduced to her famous white shirt with a black stripe down the center, as well as a red and black striped shirt paired with a structured, buttoned skirt and a black button down with white trim around the collar.
Beth doesn't even change her threads when she drives to New York with Benny post-win. While sleeping in his living room (read: not a couch, but an air mattress), she sticks with her black and white staple colors to ground her in focus in preparation for her next competition.
Once she's in Paris, chess-themed coats, a high fashion dress divided into quadrants thanks to some bold lines, and a mint green dress with black lines down the bows are added into the outfit rotation. After a fateful match, her at-home recuperation clothes predominantly display lined patterns, including a double of her favorite white shirt, now green.
Beth is in the end game now. Before she ventures to Moscow, Jolene brings her back to the orphanage one last time to pay respects to Mr. Shaibel. Beth pulls out all the stops in her chess-themed attire, with two-tone dresses and a checked coat that is unmistakably her.
In her final rounds of games, she wears singular colors, including a black dress with horizontal lines across the front to reflect a chessboard. After she defeats Borgov and is crowned World Champion, Beth is liberated and triumphant in an all white hat and jacket. A White Queen.
The Queen's Gambit is now streaming on Netflix.