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’
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 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 popular royal period drama, The Crown, uses 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’
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’
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’
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 Baby, as that classic film has the main character wearing the same red dress with a lace collar.
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’
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.
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.
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.