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TV Show Costume Details That Were So Clever We Almost Missed Them

Rosemary Giles
Photo Credits: Yaut/ HBO/ MovieStillsDB/ Cropped, and Yaut/ Netflix/ MovieStillsDB/ Cropped

Television producers often sneak clever Easter eggs such as references to history or filming styles into their works. Audiences love trying to find and decipher these secret clues, which can even be hidden in characters’ clothing. Sometimes they’re so clever they go right over our heads! In each of the following TV shows, costume details were added that made watching the scenes even better.

‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon walking down the street with two men behind her, with red hair and a checked jacket.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit wearing one of her character’s signature checkered outfits. (Photo Credit: michaella92/ Flitcraft Ltd. and Wonderful Films/ MovieStillsDB)

The Queen’s Gambit follows fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon as she plays her way to the top of the chess world during the 1950s and ’60s. This is one show where the producers and costume designers didn’t shy away from using Harmon’s clothing to add extra details to the series. Beth is frequently seen wearing various types of checks on her clothing, including tights, dresses, and coats.

According to the show’s costume designer, “…checks are something that I thought would be immediately interesting to [Beth’s] character, as she would intuitively choose to wear pieces that connected to chess.” After she won the world championship, she no longer wore checks. Instead, she was dressed in a white coat, hat, and pants to make her look like the queen piece on a chess board.

‘Friends’

David Schwimmer as Ross Geller wearing a grey suit and waving at the camera.

David Schwimmer who played Ross Geller on Friends in a promotional shot for the show. (Photo Credit: Willka/ The WB Television Network/ MovieStillsDB)

Friends is a ’90s comedy that has retained its popularity over the years. Some fans of the show recently noticed a costume detail that seemingly no one had noticed before. In the episode called “The One with the Tea Leaves,” Ross wears a t-shirt featuring two hands with their index fingers linked together.

What looks at first just like an interesting design, or perhaps a brand logo, actually has a much deeper meaning. The hand gesture is actually how you say “friends” in sign language – a nod to the name of the show.

‘The Crown’

Claire Foy as the Queen in a blue frilly dress, and Jodi Balfour as Jackie Kennedy in an elegant blue gown.

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Jodi Balfour as Jackie Kennedy in The Crown. (Photo Credit: Yaut/ Netflix/ MovieStillsDB)

The popular royal period drama, The Crownuses intricately complex costumes throughout all of the seasons. These costumes are used as a way to express further details and feelings of the characters who wear them.

The second season shows the meeting of Queen Elizabeth II and the First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy. The costumes in the show are replicas of the real outfits that they wore, but they also represent more than that. The dresses symbolize the contrast between their public personas, with Kennedy in a sleek, modern gown and the queen in a more old-fashioned tulle dress.

‘That ’70s Show’

Debra Jo Rupp as Kitty Forman in the living room surrounded by many of the cast while wearing a read blouse and floral skirt.

Debra Jo Rupp as Kitty Forman in the series finale for That ’70s Show wearing the same outfit as in the series premiere. (Photo Credit: MoviePics1001/ The Carsey-Werner Company/ MovieStillsDB)

The iconic sitcom That ’70s Show is another that added some great costume details. It was Kitty Forman, mother of the main character Eric Forman, and all-around mother to the group, whose outfit in the series finale was embellished with a special detail.

In the series premiere, Kitty hosts a party wearing a red blouse and a floral skirt. Eight seasons later in the finale, she hosts a New Year’s Eve party and wears the exact same blouse and shirt, bringing the show around full circle.

‘Game of Thrones’

Side by side images of Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark sitting in a throne, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen wearing an all white fur jacket.

Sansa Stark after becoming Queen of the North, and Daenerys Targaryen wearing her all white fur jacket. (Photo Credit: michaella92/ HBO/ MovieStillsDB, and Yaut/ HBO/ MovieStillsDB)

Game of Thrones included many details in its costume selection that offered a bigger meaning for viewers, particularly in the final season. Daenerys Targaryen’s white coat is a perfect example of how much symbolism could be put into a single outfit. According to costume designer Michele Clapton, “…it’s almost [as if] she sees herself as his savior, this angel. And so when she arrives and descends on this dragon, she is this sort of angel of mercy.”

Another detailed costume is what Sansa Stark wears when she becomes Queen of the North in the series finale. Although it appears to be a blackish-grey dress and cloak, the ensemble so much more than that. Each of the details is a nod to someone in her family: the cloak is for Arya, the weirwood leaves are for Bran, black fur for Rickon, grey gown for Ned, and a crown for Robb.

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

Adeline Rudolph, Tati Gabrielle, Kiernan Shipka, and Abigail Cowen making silly faces while wearing dresses with lace collars.

Adeline Rudolph, Tati Gabrielle, Kiernan Shipka, and Abigail Cowen making silly faces while wearing dresses with lace collars for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. (Photo Credit: Patchy12345/ Berlanti Productions, Archie Comics, and Warner Bros. Television/ MovieStillsDB)

The Netflix show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows the experiences of young witch Sabrina Spellman. The show makes many references to different horror movies, including in the cast’s costumes. One of these appears during the second episode of the show, “The Dark Baptism.”

Spellman can be seen wearing a long-sleeved dress with a lace collar. She and her fellow witches each wear a different colored dress, but Spellman’s is red. This is a nod to the horror movie Rosemary’s Babyas that classic film has the main character wearing the same red dress with a lace collar.

‘The Office’

Steve Carell as Michael Scott standing by the reception desk in the office holding a pair of red mittens.

Steve Carell as Michael Scott in The Office, standing by the reception desk holding the pair of red mittens that Phylis gave him as a gift. (Photo Credit: jeffw616/ Deedle-Dee Productions/ MovieStillsDB)

The Office, a fan-favorite sitcom that follows the employees of an American office job as if they’re part of a documentary, also includes a few different costume details. When long-term employee Dwight is finally made manager after many years, he doesn’t change his outfits from his typical short sleeves. Instead, it is Andy Bernard, who has previously made it clear that he uses “personality mirroring” on his bosses, who starts wearing matching short sleeve shirts.

In another episode, when Michael Scott decides to finally leave the company, he is given a pair of knitted red mittens from Phyllis as his goodbye present. He tells her how much he loves the mittens and takes them with him. As he’s walking away through the airport to catch his flight, they show a red string hanging out of his coat pocket; he had really kept the mittens with him the whole time.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Elisabeth Moss, right, as June Osborne in her red robes (Photo Credit: michaella92 / Hulu / MovieStillsDB)

Based on Margaret Atwood’s hit novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a totalitarian society called Gilead. In this society, women are treated as property and are not allowed to work, have money, own anything, or even read. One of the Handmaids, June Osborne, is sometimes seen out of the distinctive red robes she’s required to wear and in a comfy-looking red sweatshirt instead. It might seem out of place, but the piece of clothing is a nod to June’s previous life, since the handmaids could keep one item of red clothing before entering their service.

The character’s choice of a red sweatshirt went unnoticed by many viewers but surely brings June some comfort in Gilead amid the loss of her individuality and independence. Most viewers did probably pick up on the fact that the color red symbolizes menstrual blood, which shows the women are fertile.

‘Riverdale’

Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper leaning against a sink in the girls bathroom surrounded by other girls, wearing a leather jacket and fingerless gloves.

Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper leaning against a sink in the bathroom surrounded by other girls, wearing a leather jacket and fingerless gloves. (Photo Credit: lucy20/ Berlanti Productions / Archie Comics / CBS Studios / Warner Bros. Television Studios / MovieStillsDB)

In the third season of Riverdale, the gang appears in a flashback episode. Instead of playing their normal characters, each of the actors plays the role of their character’s mother or father. The directors were paying homage to The Breakfast Club in the episode – through the plot, promotional photo, and of course, the costume choices.

More from us: Lisa Kudrow Admits It Was ‘Jarring’ to See Herself Next to ‘Friends’ Co-Stars

One character in particular, Alice Cooper, clearly emulated Bender from the film, even wearing the same style of fingerless gloves that were a big part of his look.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.

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