Bridgerton’s Secret Costume Color Meanings Explained

Bridgerton is a show chock-full of beautiful and elaborate costumes with colors and designs that often tell stories of their own. Though the elegantly steamy period drama demands a level of attention and a sheer number of pieces to rival many of Netflix’s offerings, the series’ creators really pull out all of the stops to create some truly stunning wardrobe.

In an interview with Town & Country, costumer designer Ellen Mirojnick said of her unenviable task, “It’s the largest show I’ve ever done in my entire career, and the most fabulous show I’ve ever done in my entire career.” Yet, despite the challenges that came with fitting Bridgerton’s season 1 cast and a small army of extras, Mirojnick and her team excel, creating pieces that manage to provide a glimpse at the characters’ inner life and social position. In essence, the symbolism provided by costume color serves as a nifty shorthand for a show exploring (and, in some cases, reimagining) Britain’s Regency Era, a time in which tradition and social norms so often kept people from verbally expressing themselves. As if that wasn’t enough, Bridgerton (set in the year 1813) manages to inject elements of more contemporary storytelling, bolstered in large part by mixing traditional and modern aesthetics, designs, and – of course – color palates.

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Related: Bridgerton Season 1 Ending Explained (In Detail)

Bridgerton’s use of color is incredibly important to the overall storytelling, allowing for already visually stunning sequences to crackle with additional resonance. It’s one small way in which Netflix’s adaptation of Julia Quinn’s beloved romance novels is enhanced by a smart, deliberate, and well-conceived preproduction process.  Here’s an explanation of what colors signify in Bridgerton season 1.

Why Penelope Wears Yellow

Bridgerton Nicola Coughlan Penelope Featherington Yellow Dress

For nearly all of her Bridgerton appearances, Penelope wears yellow, a color that at first glance seems to reflect the character’s brightness and cheery nature. Although poor Pen humorously mentions her dislike of the color, in truth, yellow was an incredibly fashionable color of the Regency Era, often considered the most popular of those worn by marriage-seeking young women. The fact that Penelope remains fashionable despite her protestations could symbolize her true beauty and worth, even when she can’t see it herself.

Yellow also reflects deceit, and envy, both of which relate to Penelope’s alter ego, Lady Whistledown. The youngest Featherington uses her considerable wit to obscure her identity, fooling her family, her truth-seeking best friend, and even the Queen’s investigators. A color signifying enlightenment, yellow also speaks to Pen’s unexpected worldliness and great ability to read others – a valuable skill she uses to great effect as Lady Whistledown.

Why The Featheringtons Wear So Many Colors

The Featherington’s love of bracingly bright colors is played for laughs throughout the series, but the implications of their gaudy wardrobe go far beyond their questionable style. The family’s color palate is at odds with the other members of high society, serving as a visual indicator for their outsider status within their upper-class community. The Featherington’s social awkwardness is highlighted throughout Bridgerton season 1, when the family’s three girls struggle to find matches and the ostracized family is embarrassingly forced to leave the Queen’s luncheon after finding themselves at the center of a scandal.

Related: Bridgerton: Why [SPOILER] Became Lady Whistledown

The Feathering’s disparate style may also reflect the peacocking of its patriarch, whom the audience learns is overwhelmed by insurmountable debt despite his attempts to show the world otherwise. Ultimately, the bright colors distract from the family’s bleaker reality, one that includes relatively little opportunity for their dowery-less daughters. Later in the season, there are several moments in which Lady Featherington bemoans her inability to acquire new dresses for her girls, perhaps a metaphor for her desperation to hide the truth behind a colorful facade.

Why Daphne Always Wears White

Throughout all of Bridgerton season 1, Daphne is often seen wearing white (or other light colors, like baby blue or beige). The future duchess and is often shown in close proximity to white roses, as well, further linking her to the color. Regency color tastes always considered white to be a perennial favorite, therefore it is fitting that the noted “incomparable” would be dressed to the height of fashion. Additionally, white could be a somewhat on-the-nose reference to Daphne’s deeply-rooted desire for marriage and idyllic family life.

Of course, white may also reflect Daphne’s purity and innocence. With each passing episode, it becomes increasingly clear as to just how little the eldest Bridgerton girl has been informed in the matters of sex, forcing her to make some rather shocking discoveries on her own. Though extraordinarily bold and determined to use her voice in a world that often fails to listen to her, the general color palette – subdued, calming, and traditional – tells the audience that Daphne is unquestioningly good and a heroine worth rooting for.

Why Simon Starts Wearing Colors

Bridgerton Simon Daphne

In episode 2 “Shock and Delight,” Lady Danbury scoffs at Simon’s drab attire in one of Bridgerton‘s driest line-readings, saying, “Would it pain you to wear some color, your Grace? The London season is already terribly monotonous as it is.” Indeed, the Duke’s first appearances show him in outfits consisting largely of black, symbolic of his dark and troubled past. Considering Simon’s history with his emotionally abusive and neglectful father, his choice of drearier and understated wardrobe is certainly understandable.

Related: Bridgerton: [Spoiler] Learned They Were Lady Whistledown From Online Fan Forums

However, Simon’s wardrobe subtly begins to evolve as the season progresses, primarily by incorporating the color red. Symbolic for passion and love, red is apt choice for the duke – especially as his bond with Daphne strengthens. The Bridgerton costumers use the color to help symbolize Simon’s gradual softening at key moments in his development. On the night in which the duke and Daphne first kiss in the garden, he is wearing an uncharacteristically flashy crimson jacket (he adorns it at other moments of happiness and marital bliss, as well). Also notably, a red ascot is worn when Simon finally articulates his feelings for Daphne when appealing to the queen and again on the couple’s wedding night.

Why Lady Featherington Doesn’t Wear Black At The End

Lady Featherington may subdue her look slightly in the wake of her husband’s death, but her unwillingness to wear black – as decorum would suggest – is actually rather fitting for her character. In truth, Lady Featherington, who told Marina that her marriage was a loveless one, didn’t truly mourn her husband. In addition to their relationship not being a “love match,” Featherington’s gambling and deception placed a real strain on both their marriage and their family’s position in society. It is likely that Lady Featherington’s final olive green dress (and accompanying pink-jeweled necklace) is a sort of sartorial defiance in response to her husband’s ultimate failures.

The incredibly diverse clothing styles of Bridgerton’s cast are both intentional and gorgeously executed (even some of the more gaudy examples manage to hint at crucial character traits and development). For a story as laced in melodrama and romanticism as this one, there isn’t a stitch of bold costuming out of place.

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Updated: January 8, 2021 — 1:44 am

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