The White Queen (2013) short review


Can we talk — about how bad the costumes and hair are? This is an adaptation of some of Philippa Gregory’s books, and I’m sure they are just the most historically accurate things out there (I got halfway through the first book and then, as usual, got irritated with Gregory’s writing and lack of historical knowledge).  And yes, it’s yet another “We’re not trying to be slavishly historically accurate!” in terms of design/costumes/whatnot.  Fine.  Yawn.

First, let’s look at a few images of some of our key female characters:


Elizabeth Woodville


Anne Neville

Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou

Now, let’s talk about the series costumes and hair: Many of the female characterswear elaborate braids that look like they’ve been slept in for three weeks. Sadly I can’t find a good picture — this is the closest — but they’re frizzy with hair sticking out everywhere. Huh?

2013 The White Queen

Anne Neville— also Elizabeth Woodville does this too.

Jacquetta (Elizabeth Woodville’s mom) has some pretty cool hair though!

2013 The White Queen


Some of the dresses are reasonably pretty and elegant, like this one on Elizabeth Woodville (who is a dead ringer for a young Trinny of the British “What Not to Wear”):

2013 The White Queen

Elizabeth Woodville aka Trinny

But then Elizabeth Woodville will spend multiple episodes in something really boring like this:

2013 The White Queen

Okay yes, you’re showing her in her relaxed clothes, but still — YAWN. Isabelle Neville’s wardrobe was clearly raided from some high school theater department, and Anne’s isn’t much better.

2013 The White Queen

Isabelle (left) and Anne (right)

Margaret Beaufort wears a lot of simple, high necked clothes — okay, makes sense for someone who is really pious. But they’re all suspiciously Star Trek in their cut. And one of the few times she wore something with a lower neck, I swear I saw a bra strap.

The White Queen (2013)

Maybe she’s Borg? | (C) Company Pictures & ALL3MEDIA – Photographer: Ed Miller

And I don’t know what Margaret of Anjou is wearing here, but I know I hate it.

The White Queen (2013)

Oh plastic pearls, how I hate thee.


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

2 Responses

  1. Aleko

    That still of Elizabeth Woodville in her coronation robes was the image that the BBC chose to promote the series, and it has been used for subsequent covers of the book as well. And I just can’t help cracking up every time I see it, because it’s perfectly plain to see that the redundant second “sceptre” she is holding in her left hand (although, as your contemporary images show, 15th-century English monarchs only had one), is a modern British field-marshal’s baton with the figure of St George and the Dragon snapped off. Not even sawn off: just whacked off and left with the broken end sticking up. The broken bit is easier to see on a slightly lighter version of the image:

    And you can see a whole baton here: