Madeline Brewer, Elisabeth Moss
Source: Hulu

Madeline Brewer as Janine, Elisabeth Moss as June

Here's What the Color Red Represents in Hulu's 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Pretty Honore - Author
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Nov. 2 2022, Published 7:05 p.m. ET

It seems like only yesterday when we were introduced to The Handmaid’s Tale's June Osbourne (Elisabeth Moss) and the band of badass women who’ve stood by her on her quest for freedom throughout the Hulu series.

After the United States was overrun by a gang of religious terrorists, June and her daughter, Hannah, were taken to the Republic of Gilead and forced to assimilate. With her newfound life also came a brand-new wardrobe.

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Upon her arrival in the dystopian country, June was forced to don an old-school fit — complete with a bonnet and ankle-length dress to match. But why do the handmaids have to wear red? Read on to find out!

Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel in Handmaid's Tale
Source: Hulu

Elisabeth Moss as June and Alexis Bledel as Emily

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Why do the handmaids wear red on 'The Handmaid's Tale'?

On Wednesdays, handmaids wear red. Well, actually … that’s every day, because they were forced into captivity by a bunch of power-hungry men. Their color-coded wardrobe is designed to put the women in Gilead in their place, both literally and figuratively.

Having the handmaids in red, wives in blue, aunties in brown, and Marthas rocking off-gray only makes it that much easier for the patriarchy to push its agenda.

In a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood shared the significance of the colors used throughout the series.

She said: “Traditional Renaissance color scheme: blue = Virgin Mary. Red = Mary Magdalene + blood + also - used for prisoners of war in WW II Canada as red shows up well against snow! Econowives = stripes (obvious): they have to do all functions. The TV series uses vaguely Nazi brown for the Aunts.”

The handmaids aren’t donning in any old red, though. That’s where costume designer Ane Crabtree comes in.

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Elisabeth Moss, Madeline Brewer
Source: Hulu

Elisabeth Moss as June, Madeline Brewer as Janine

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ costume designer Ane Crabtree said “the color red was of the utmost importance.”

Using the context given by Margaret, Ane conceptualized the iconic fit worn by hundreds of imprisoned women in Gilead.

She told Vanity Fair, “For The Handmaid’s Tale, the color red was of the utmost importance, so we started there.” Their goal, Ane said, was to “find the perfect shade that would emotionally exemplify a kind of visual lifeblood.”

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Elisabeth Moss
Source: Hulu

Elisabeth Moss as June Osbourne

The designer added, “We wanted the handmaids, as they are the fertile women’s tribe of the story, to flow down the streets of Gilead, leaving a long line of red in the midst of the gray of Gilead.”

“Beyond this, the red is the color of a womb, of a wanton woman, a scarlet kind of mark upon a pious world of dark tones in the visual landscape, and also in a tiny intimate space.”

The Handmaid’s Tale airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Hulu.

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