The Hidden Meanings Behind The Costumes In Chloe, BBC One’s New Psychological Thriller

Just as gripping as Killing Eve.

Erin Doherty as Becky

by Natalie Hammond |

For those who haven't seen Chloe, it's a wince-as-you-watch thriller about a young woman called Becky who falls down a rabbit hole of her own making thanks to social media. So it's rather appropriate that the show's costume designer, Matthew Price, whose work you've probably seen in action on Catastrophe, Unforgotten and Behind Her Eyes, began with Instagram.

'We looked at influencers as the starting point,' he says, noting places like Babington House, the members club and hotel in Somerset, and Soho Farmhouse, the famously 'grammable getaway in Chipping Norton, as particularly fruitful for research.

Erin Doherty as Chloe
Becky wearing the 'comfort blanket' varsity jacket ©Chloe

Becky - a temp worker living with her mum who develops (and swiftly acts upon) an obsession with Chloe, who passes away - is played with shape-shifting brilliance by Erin Doherty, last seen on the small screen as Princess Anne. She's a character who, rather like Killing Eve's Villanelle, is prone to trying on different identities, making the wardrobing process a pivotal part of the show's success. 'Becky’s journey is fuelled with guilt, obsession and personal acceptance,' says Price. 'She's this chameleon figure that quickly crosses from Helena, who we meet at the start, to her main alter-ego Sasha. Finding the right balance to convey her personality was a fascinating process.'

In the first episode - as she begins to infiltrate the network of friends around Chloe, finding an in-road with her best friend Livia - Becky steals a colleague's exuberantly patterned coat and cons her way into a private drinks party. She's spontaneous - seizes opportunities as they present themselves; absorbing information about her environment - and that's reflected in her wardrobe.

Try as she might, her efforts aren't always successful says Price. 'She would take bolder prints and colours from Livia, and more of the teals, greens and soft elegance from Chloe. That's how she starts to piece it together, but she doesn't always get it 100% right. She's not as seamless with her outfits and, the further we go down the rabbit hole, cracks start to appear.'

Erin Doherty in Chloe
Becky wearing the yellow dress from Rejina Pyo x & Other Stories ©Chloe

Price takes an almost 'method' approach to his costumes, thinking carefully about colours and creating a back history for certain garments. In one scene in the opening episode, Becky stands outside the funeral, furtively watching in a red varsity jacket, a vintage find that he'd had for a couple of years before this project came along. 'As soon as we fitted it on Erin, her posture changed and she started walking slightly more stooped,' he remembers. 'We knew in that moment that we had found one of the signature 'Becky' jackets.'

Price says that its red was supposed to represent blood. 'It's Becky’s comfort blanket; she’s worn it since she was a teenager.' When she first meets Livia, meanwhile, she wears a marigold-coloured dress from Rejina Pyo x & Other Stories. 'In the art gallery scene, she has one opportunity to leave a strong memory on Livia. The yellow acts as a punch of colour, but it's the colour of positivity and deception. [I] like the contrast on that meaning,' he says.

Erin Doherty and Pippa Bennett-Warner
Becky and Livia ©Chloe

When Becky engineers a second meeting with Livia, this time at a yoga class at a plush hotel spa, we see her tucking the tag back into her sports bra; another glimpse into the hectic nature of her deception. 'She’s working at such a fast pace and on a limited budget,' explains Price. 'Essentially, [she] wants to have the opportunity to return them so prefers to leave the labels on.'

If all this talk hasn't sent you straight to BBC iPlayer - where you can now stream the whole box set - we don't know what will.

Gallery

SEE: The Best TV Wardrobes Of All Time

Lovecraft Country
1 of 14

Sci-fi and fashion can be happy bedfellows (as evidenced by Stranger Things). Lovecraft Country, the brilliant new show from HBO, is set in '50s America - cue cat's eye sunglasses and hourglass-accentuating shorts - against the backdrop of segregation.

Emily In Paris
2 of 14

His last leading lady didn't fare so well in Paris, but maybe his next will do better. Darren Star's new show, Emily In Paris, stars Lily Collins. She's a wide-eyed marketing executive with a killer wardrobe because - go figure - Patricia Field, the famous costume designer of SATC, is also on board.

friends cast
3 of 14

The best six friends on earth gave us great clothes + comedy gold. Who could forget Joey wearing everything Chandler owned ('I better not do any lunges!'), Rachel's slip dress ('My boob popped out!) and Ross's leather pants ('My God, these pants, I'm burning up.')?

gossip girl cast
4 of 14

The preppy plaid skirts and velvet hairbands made Gossip Girl compulsive viewing to coming-of-age teens circa 2007. Both are back, FYI, so dig yours out. XOXO.

sex and the city cast
5 of 14

Now's the time to dive headfirst into the famous foursome's wardrobes and, if you've got time on your hands, do a Carrie-style clearout in your own.

next in fashion
6 of 14

Next In Fashion has drama, seriously impressive design and surprisingly heart-warming moments. If that doesn't have you hooked, stick around for Tan France and Alexa Chung's outfits. Our favourite? The latter's knitted bra and butter-wouldn't-melt cardigan. Delicious.

westworld
7 of 14

Tessa Thompson's character in Westworld, Charlotte Hale, is an Executive Director at Delos Destinations (aka, a total boss) and has a read the rulebook on power outfits cover to cover.

the good wife/the good fight
8 of 14

Diane Lockhart for President. Am I right? The lawyer's wardrobe of sharp-shouldered blazers is Oval Office stuff.

sex education
9 of 14

Her penchant for silk blouses predated Shiv's (remember The Fall?), and now Gillian Anderson is bringing her celebrated je ne sais quoi to Netflix's Sex Education. Jean Millburn = our shirt-dress-wearing hero.

the marvellous mrs mail
10 of 14

If you need cheering up - and fast - watch The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. It's set in 1950s New York, miles away from 2020's myriad worries, and features Rachael Brosnahan as Midge Maisel, a Jewish housewife who becomes a stand-up after her husband is unfaithful. Cue the most charming costumes - and comedy - of the century.

the crown
11 of 14

We still fantasise about the tiaras and ball gowns belonging to Princess Margaret. The Crown's fourth season is just around the corner and features a very stylish arrival in the form of Princess Diana. Mark your calendars for 15 November.

black-ish
12 of 14

Rainbow (Johnson) by name and rainbow by nature. Tracee Ellis Ross's character in Black-ish serves up feel-good fashion - and plenty of it.

killing eve
13 of 14

The many faces of Villanelle never ceases to shock, awe and, frankly, make us envious that an assassin's salary gets you garms from The Vampire's Wife, Rosie Assoulin and Molly Goddard. Hurry up, season three!

insecure
14 of 14

Issa, the loveable lead in Insecure, has a sunny-side-up wardrobe (that she occasionally buys and then returns, don't judge).

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us