The Hidden Meaning That You May Have Missed In All 'The Queen's Gambit' Costumes

by Aemilia Madden and Danielle Naer
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If you haven't watched through Netflix's new nostalgia-steeped, fashion-filled series, The Queen's Gambit, now's the time to get acquainted. The series follows Beth Harmon, a Kentucky-born orphan who ascends to the highest rungs of chess royalty — a journey that, in part, can be charted through her standout clothing choices. While some might reduce Beth Harmon's outfits in The Queen's Gambit to a mere dose of '60s style, there's actually a deeper significance tucked into every car coat and circle skirt. Each look is thoughtfully engineered to convey the same method and strategy as her end-game.

Throughout the series' seven-part run, Harmon faces an uphill battle while asserting herself amidst the male-dominated world of chess — much of which is pegged to her fashion sense. “What do you say to those ... who accuse you of being too glamorous to be a serious chess player?," probes a reporter towards the middle of the series. Like the game of chess itself, Harmon approaches these challenges strategically every time, with well-placed quips that ensure she always comes out on top.

Fashion serves as a not-so-subtle undercurrent from the show's onset, starting with her rudimental uniform at the orphanage — a gray scoop-neck jumper over a Peter Pan-collared blouse. Through this stage, she blended with all the other girls — a bubble that was quickly burst as she began winning matches and using the prize money towards her ensembles. From there, sale-section shoes and coats were swapped with checked cardigans, waist-nipping dresses, and pussybow blouses, all in the most luxurious materials. By the time she was jet-setting to Paris as U.S. Champion, she was clad in pink plaid car coats worthy of Chanel.


Still, it may surprise some that none of the pieces in the series are pulled from the runways. Costume designer Gabriele Binder intentionally designed them all from scratch for Harmon's character. With smart silhouettes, structural lines, and striking colors across all her game-winning looks, each garment shares clear focus on symmetry and order — echoing Harmon's decorum as she blows through her opponents.


Many pieces invoke the geometric language of the chess board itself, her cutout swimsuit in particular bearing a close resemblance. “I always try to mirror what is happening inside a character with what they are wearing on the outside and the checks are something that I thought would be immediately interesting to Anya’s character," Binder told Vogue India in an interview. "The contrast of the check print also mirrors the nuances of the game itself — it’s decisive, it’s win or lose —which you would not have with, say, a floral print.”


To browse some of her very best ensembles from the series, read along — and shop out some of the polished garments to get the look, yourself.

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Beth Harmon's Outfits In 'The Queen's Gambit': White Beret & Coat


Towards the series' close, Harmon's chic monochrome outfit includes a white car coat, a fuzzy beret and a pair of gloves in the same hue for an icy, pristine look.

Beth Harmon's Outfits In 'The Queen's Gambit': Plaid Dress & Oxford Shirt


Calling on the checked pattern that's a constant through the series, Binder dresses Harmon in a white Oxford blouse with a V-neck dress on top.

Beth Harmon's Outfits In 'The Queen's Gambit': Beige Tattersall Coat & Leather Gloves


This time, Harmon wears a tattersall-soaked coat with white accents, and styles it with black gloves and a black undershirt.

Beth Harmon's Outfits In 'The Queen's Gambit': Beige Sweater & Paisley Blouse


In a slightly more casual moment, Harmon is seen in a contrasted paisley-print blouse and a fluffy alpaca cardigan.

Beth Harmon's Outfits In 'The Queen's Gambit': Black Dress With Peter Pan Collar


Mimicking the collar on her aforementioned school uniform, Harmon wore a simple black dress with a parchment-colored Peter Pan neckline.

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