‘Breaking Bad’: Walter White Wearing Beige Has More Meaning Than Fans Realize
There’s a classic scene in Breaking Bad when Skyler and Walter White show up to a party hosted by their billionaire friends, Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz. The couple wears what they consider “rich people party clothes” — Walt in a dark blue double-breasted suit and Skyler in a blue taffeta gown. To their horror, everyone else at the party is casually dressed in beige.
“Jesus, guess we didn’t get the ‘beige’ memo,” Skyler says to Walt. He deflects, saying they look fine. “It looks like I’m wearing a prom dress from 1985,” she retorts.
This small moment is more than just a funny interaction between Walt and the world he almost inhabited. Like most scenes on Breaking Bad, it conveys deeper meaning about the characters through the use of color. And this time, it’s beige.
Walter White always wears beige on ‘Breaking Bad’
He may have donned a fancy suit for Elliot’s party, but before the event and after Walt wears beige all the time. Show critics at Screen Crush have narrowed down that beige is the color of normalcy on the show. As Walt goes deeper and deeper into the drug world, he wears beige less and less, symbolizing the transition of his inner motivations in an external way.
At the party, Elliot wears a beige sweater over a white shirt, which helps to signify inner purity. Some fans think of the Schwartzes as being villains simply because they have a lot of money. But Elliot truly wants to help his friend Walt, which is why he offers him a job during season 1 episode 5 at the birthday party.
Unfortunately, Walt’s pride is too big to accept what he considers charity.
Beige outfits made Walt look boring on purpose
Showrunner Vince Gilligan wanted Walt to be a bland, beige character, which is why he gave him that name and wardrobe in the first season of Breaking Bad. As Gilligan famously said, he wanted to turn, “Mr. Chips into Scarface.”
One way he achieved that is by making Walt an everyman who could be anyone. The name Walter White was alliterative so it was memorable but also conveyed a boringness. “White is the color of vanilla, of blandness,” the series creator explained of the name choice.
And for Walter White’s boring wardrobe, he used that signature color of beige to express how humdrum Walt’s life was in the beginning. He told GQ, “For instance in the pilot, it was intentional that Walt start off very beige and khaki-ish, very milquetoast, and he would progress through that one hour of television to green and thus show his process of evolution as a character.”
Walt doesn’t fully lose his beige identity
Though Walt’s clothing choices become darker as he embraces his Heisenberg persona, there are flashes of beige to show he still retains some of his original blandness. For example, Walt and Skyler wear beige at the car wash after he decides to give up the meth business, indicating what could be if he quit forever.
Walt also wears beige when confronting Hank about putting a GPS tracker on his car, but he’s wearing it with brown and sky blue, indicating an inner conflict that manifests in multiple colors.