Beth Harmon's Winning Moves In... Fashion
Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy)'s wardrobe was as strategically chosen as her chess moves. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Beth Harmon's Winning Moves In... Fashion

| 113 | Fun & Trivia

Beth Harmon, the main character of "The Queen's Gambit," not only inspired millions of viewers to pick up the game of chess. Many fans like her not just for her winning moves on the chessboard, but also for her wardrobe.

The huge effect that "The Queen's Gambit" has had on the chess world will be known to most of our readers. We are currently experiencing the biggest chess boom since the "Match of the Century" in 1972 between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

It's interesting to see that the popular Netflix series is also influencing the world of fashion—something that has been pointed out in several fashion magazines and websites: quotes research from the Munich-based online search platform Stylight which states that "the number of clicks for checkered coats—often worn by Beth—increased nearly 384% on the site following the debut of the series, compared to the month before its release. White wool coats and turtleneck sweaters—also key pieces in Beth’s wardrobe—saw an increase in clicks by at least 56% in the same time period."

Beth Harmon chequered coat The Queen's Gambit
Beth Harmon wearing a checkered coat in episode six. Image: Phil Bray/Netflix.

Beth Harmon's wardrobe wasn't only chosen for aesthetic reasons. It was part of a grand design scheme in which visual elements would tell additional elements of the story in subtle ways.

The French Costume designer Gabriele Binder was mainly responsible for the clothes and sometimes built them herself. She naturally used the chessboard itself for inspiration, as can be seen in the use of classic checkered prints and black and white palettes, but she also paid homage to American style icons such as actress Audrey Hepburn and designer Yves Saint Laurent.

One of the executive producers of the series, William Horberg, said:

"Gabriele and I spent a lot of time talking about where Beth is at in the story. As we go forward, she's more and more glamorous, and she’s trying to be other people, so we had these very practical conversations tethered to the story and tethered to who they are. It was never about, well, wouldn't it be great to put her in this or put her in that. At the very end when Beth is finally comfortable in the world of chess, Gabriele found this beautiful long white coat with this white hat for Moscow because it's very cold. We realized she looked like the white queen. All the way through we were constantly talking about how the costumes were going to help tell the story."

Beth Harmon white coat Queen's Gambit
Beth Harmon's white coat in the final episode. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Beth Harmon: "Clothes are a wonderful way of exhibiting history. I think what's fascinating about watching Beth grow up is that she puts on all of these different characters. She's dressing up like different personas throughout the course of the show. I really felt like I could connect with that because I literally play other people for three months at a time for my job. At the very beginning of the story, there's a push for a more conservative 1950s style, then she discovers blue jeans, and her life changes forever. It was really fun to get to play around with that."

Beth Harmon in episode 2 Queen's Gambit
Beth Harmon in episode two wearing clothes from the orphanage, not having won any prizes yet. Image: Ken Woroner/Netflix.
Beth Harmon Queen's Gambit black and white shirt
In episode one (and in other scenes), Beth Harmon wears a simple shirt in black and white that mirrors the clear divisions on a chessboard. The Brooklyn Museum has a special website dedicated to fashion used in Netflix series, where it is noted that the original was created by André Courrèges in Paris in the mid-1960s.
Beth Harmon fashion Queen's Gambit
Beth Harmon herself, here in episode six wearing the same shirt, is clearly fascinated by fashion. Image: Ken Moroner/Netflix.
Beth Harmon silk shirt Queen's Gambit
Beth Harmon, here with Benny (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) in episode five, wearing a silk shirt full of squares. Image: Ken Moroner/Netflix.
Beth Harmon Pierre Cardin dress
Beth Harmon in episode six. The Brooklyn Museum: "One of the most chic looks that Beth wears in The Queen's Gambit. This dress, inspired by French designer Pierre Cardin, was purchased and worn by Beth while in Paris for her first European chess tournament. At this point in the series, Beth is seen purchasing high fashion outfits in Paris, signalling a preference for elegant mid-60s French design." Image: Phil Bray/Netflix.
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