Since showing in October 2020, The Queen’s Gambit has become the biggest scripted limited series to date. The series follows orphan and chess protege Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) through the 50s and 60s, and has, to be frank, made chess sexy again. You don’t have to be a chess grandmaster to fall in love with this show, I really loved it and was inspired by the fashion and decor just as much as Beth overcoming sexism and adversity. Of course, I wanted to get a little bit of that Queens Gambit style – it’s so effortless and stylish all in one.
Costume designer Gabriele Binder drew inspiration from the classic chic of Audrey Hepburn and Edie Sedgwick, and you really can see that inspiration shine through with each and every outfit in this series. Thanks to the timeless appeal of her look, many of Beth’s outfits can translate easily today. Here’s how you can emulate the smart and stylish Beth Harmon.
Queens Gambit Style – Hair
As the series follows Beth from childhood through to young-adult, the hair styles change with her as well as through the decades. The show covers the fashion throughout the 1950s and this is reflected in her hair styles. At the start, she has a short bob with extreme fringe – this is the same haircut as all of the other orphans, and looks cute, but rather simple. I quite like this haircut, however, I feel this isn’t necessarily something she would have chosen herself – when she moves into adulthood, she styles her hair, and herself in a much more feminine and understated glamorous way.
When Beth first starts competing in chess, she has a short bob which she styles with a large wave to the front and soft curls underneath. She also has a side parting, enabling that lovely wave to drop demurely over her eyes. This would have been styled using rollers and setting lotions at the time the show is set, and I feel that using the same methods will get the style you’re looking for. Roll the top section of your head away from your face in a large stand up pin curls. For my head, I would usually do four, but you can do more depending on your hair texture. The curls underneath are alternating rows of pin curls – one row around the head will be clockwise, the other anti-clockwise. After the hair is dry, brush out and form the curls over your hand.
Essential Tips for Beth Harmon’s Hair
- Use a deep side part to get that “vintage swoop” at the front of your head. When swooping, push the hair back towards the part to create the curve, pin into place and mist with hairspray
- Use curlers and wet set your hair, or use heated rollers to get lovely, soft waves
- Use a headscarf for a chic and casual look – Beth frequently uses a scarf to tie around her head with the tails sitting under the nape of her neck.
- Curl the ends of the hair outwards using a round brush and hairdryer for Beth’s “swinging sixties” vibe
Queens Gambit style – Make up
As with the hair and fashion in The Queen’s Gambit, the make up style also spans over the 1950s and 1960s in terms of what Beth Harmon is wearing. Beth grows up with the show, and her style evolves with her as a young woman. Lipstick was used to show Beth’s age changes and signal shifting relationships and behavior. Daniel Parker, the show’s hair and make up designer said.
One lip colour was also reserved to reflect the special bond between Beth and her adopted mother, Alma Wheatley. The lip colours worn by Beth towards the end of the series get more similar to the ones worn by Alma as an ode to her. It’s such a clever way to tell the story – I didn’t even realise until I was researching this article.
Beth’s mental state is consistently reflected by her appearance, and the iconic graphic eyeliner shown below on the right is an indication of the chaos within. During one of her benders she attempts to channel Mariska Veres, the lead singer of Shocking Blue as she had been listening to “I’m your Venus” the night before. I really like this look, although I don’t think I would be able to pull this off!
In the final episode, Beth wears a classic cat eye liner and red lip. This is meant to signify her confidence and presence in a room full of domineering men. It’s one of my favourite looks for me to wear, and I am glad that it makes such an impact. Beth doesn’t dull her femininity and she’s no longer underestimated – she’s respected. She’s feared by opponents, admired by her fans and revered by her peers.
Essential Tips for Beth Harmon’s Make Up
- Create a strong red lip by using lip liner, a lip primer and a matte red lip – I love the Maybelline Liquid lipsticks ( they are snacking and mask proof!)
- Beth has a strong cupid’s bow so the v shape on her upper lip is very defined. Create this emphasis on your cupid’s bow by drawing a v shape in red liner
- Keep the eye shadows neutral – if you add colour to your eyes it will look overdone. You want Beth’s understated cool for this one. Use beige, taupe and soft brown shadows to lightly define your eyes
- Create a dramatic cat-eye with black liner and don’t forget your lashes. Use a defining mascara rather than false lashes. If you need help with eyeliner, my tutorial for a flirty cat eye will help.
Queens Gambit Style – Clothing
Beth’s wardrobe has a very distinctive colour palette wearing black and white (to reflect the chessboard), along with jewel tones, pastels and checkered print with a pop of primary colours like red or yellow every so often. A-line silhouettes are her stylish choice and are often paired with Peter Pan collars, boatnecks and sweetheart necklines which are often detailed with bows and buttons. Beth is often seen in dresses and high-waisted mini or midi skirts (depending on which decade the episode is in) and also wears chino cigarette pants with an oversized knit during the colder periods in the show. For winter, her signature outwear is a button-front woolen overcoat with matching beret and gloves.
In terms of footwear, the choice was to show her development from a awkward child to more feminine and elegant young woman. Beth wears chunky creepers as a child in the orphanage, sleek ballet flats during her college years and chic, low to mid heeled shoes while travelling abroad in Paris and Moscow.
Picture guide to Queens Gambit style
Chevron print will add vintage vibes to your look. In this outfit a dark-blue, high-waisted pleated mini skirt is paired with a chevron print blouse. . This is a perfect example of how to be chic and casual. A top in chevron print looks even better with a deep v neckline and flounced sleeves.
Beth wears a few outfits that are similar to this one. She often pairs a boxy button-down graphic print blouse with a mini skirt. This is teamed with a fun headscarf and some cool sunnies.
Outerwear and Monochrome Accessories
The pinacle look for Beth in terms of style and her career in chess is the final look we see. The white wool button-front coat, paired with gloves and beret shows us in no uncertain terms that she truly is a Queen in the chess world. The bold monocromatic look, in her traditional black and white is a stunning way to walk through winter.
This isn’t the only monochrome outfit we see – it’s a technique that Beth employs often – usually in black. This is one of my favourite trends to try – an entire outfit in one colour. I think it looks so effortlessly chic – just like another starlet who did this – Audrey Hepburn.
Turtlenecks and knitwear
Knitwear is one of my favourite things to wear, especially as I tend to get cold even in the heat of summer. Again Beth chooses knitwear in block colours and depending on her mood it can be darker, jewel tones or pastels.
Beth uses her clothing to reflect her mood as usual, and this is no exception. For example, when she is in Paris, her turtleneck is black which shows she is unapproachable and protected.
Boatneck and Peter Pan collars
Although it’s not the most common silhouette you’ll find on the market, a 1960s inspired Peter Pan collar dress remains stylish, timeless and elegant. I love this neckline personally, it’s unapologetically feminine and shows the strength of character that Beth has. She doesn’t try to blend in with the boys, she stands apart from them. Much like her character in general – she is one of those interesting types of people who never quite fit in.
Loungewear & Cosy Knits
This is hands-down one of my favourite looks on the entire show! Yes, that does include that final outfit. The reason I love this is because it’s simply sensual. It looks so cosy and yet there really is something about it. I think the contrast between the knitwear and her cute vest and pants is simply wonderful.
The oversized pastel pink cardigan and pastel blue camisole set is cute, feminine is effortless.
I hope this gave you some ideas on how to get Queens Gambit style into your life – I will share a more indepth tutorial of her hair and make up looks shortly.
I loved The Queen’s Gambit, and plan to share some more in-depth tutorials when it comes to her hair and make-up. This set actually encouraged us to buy a sweet little chess set, and I must say, some of what I learned in Chess Club (!) at primary school did come flooding back. I don’t think I will ever be a grandmaster, but still I can emulate Beth Harmon at least…