Clothes that tell a story: The Queen’s Gambit’s style moves

Netflix’s recent original series The Queen’s Gambit, has taken the world by storm, and not just because of the clever storytelling and phenomenal acting. The sense of style and ever-evolving wardrobe of our protagonist, Beth, is one of the most intriguing aspects of the show. 

We meet Beth as a small, confused girl: unsure of herself and her appearance. At her strict boarding school, she is given a blunt haircut identical to her peers and is stuck wearing the same utilitarian outfit every day – essentially a uniform. She wears this uniform for most of her young life as she attempts to find herself through her love of chess. 

The show does really well in accurately capturing the look and feel of fashion of its mid-century setting. But beyond this, fashion in the show is used to tell a wider story about money and class. When Beth is at school, in drab, discounted clothes, she is made fun of by the other girls in more ‘fashionable’ clothing, who claim they wouldn’t be seen dead shopping at the store her clothes were purchased from. It is at this point Beth is most lost, but it is also at this point that we see Beth decide to make a change for herself in terms of personal style.

As Beth grows as a young woman, so does her fashion sense. We see an evolution into bolder looks as she establishes a sense of independence. She experiments with make-up and ever more glamorous ensembles (one of my favourite beauty looks in the show is the ultra-60s bold, floating black eyeliner under her eyes) as she experiments with herself. 

Every detail related to the styling of Beth is so well executed throughout. Beth wears the same cut of hairstyle throughout, but as she gets older, she loses those blunt edges she has at the start of her journey, and her fringe and hair become longer, with loose curls. This happens as she unravels, but also as she relaxes into a newer version of herself. 

Viewers have also pointed out that the outfit Beth wears at the end of the series mirrors the appearance of the queen piece in chess. Beth symbolically empowers herself by appearing as arguably the most important piece in the game. This clever wardrobe choice brings the entire story together, tying in so beautifully with her journey from being timid and quiet, to being calm, polished, self-assured and confident. Beth ends up on top, and she echoes that through her clothing choices and new, glamorous personal style. 


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Leia Butler

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January 2022
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