Secret Style Icons: Ladies of the Board

They’re in games, and they have game. (We like wordplay, OK?) (That last pun was unintentional.) (But we are never sorry about PUNS.)

It was not an advantage to draw a woman’s face from the card deck while playing Guess Who?, the game where two people sit down, look at a board filled with fairly frightening faces, and attempt to discern which face their opponent has drawn from the deck by asking a series of appearance-based questions. The first question (unless you were playing with someone who was obsessed with asking about hats) was usually “Are you a girl?” If the answer was yes, your opponent knocked down, say, 96% of the game board, narrowing the field down rather quickly. It was a dumb game, and I loved it.

Although it pretty much sucked to draw her from the deck, my favorite character was Maria, who had a shout-out on the box that I played from, a box that also featured the boy in this commercial—I guess he was the official Guess Who? kid of that particular period:

(Remember, crew: “game cards do not actually talk.”)

Maria was my favorite because I was approximately seven years old when I played this game, and I was shallow and liked the “pretty lady” the best. She was a terrible draw not only because of her gender, but also because she wore a badass green beret (one of the few hats in the game) and earrings (few characters wore earrings). Picking Maria was basically like picking a giant bull’s-eye, but of all the characters in the game, she’s the only one I remember clearly, and I attribute that—at least partially—to her sense of style. To this day I still want to wear a Kelly green beret and a pair of dangly earrings.

Board games are supposed to do two things: keep you busy, and get you thinking. You’re entertained and, in some cases anyway, educated, at least a little bit, as you hop around and strategize and figure out how to win. But the best board games also leave you with a basic introduction to storytelling—creating worlds filled with vivid characters that are hard to shake, long after you’ve forgotten how to play.

In this regard, for me, there are two games that stand out: Candy Land and Clue.

Now listen: unless you are between the ages of three and eight, Candy Land is total snoretown. But the characters, and the very idea of a world made of candy, are inspirational forever. Observe:

All images via the Candy Land Wikia, except for Old Grandma Nutt, via Polyvore, and Old Princess Lolly, via La Vie en Rose Fashions.

Princess Lolly, Queen Frostine, and Grandma Nutt have had makeovers since the days I played, but—with the exception of Queen Frostine, who was downgraded to “Princess Frostine” and given the requisite Generic Pink Makeover, ugh, boo, hiss—they’ve all retained a pretty solid sense of style, incorporating candy elements into their everyday gear. It’s easy to be inspired by their fun theme: the creator of La Vie en Rose Fashions is even working on a Lolly-inspired dress, which is divine:

And look at Lolly’s crown! It’s like a flower crown MADE OF LOLLIPOPS. Queen Frostine carries a lollipop scepter! And Grandma Nutt is just keeping it too too real, always and ever. Look at her pockets! There are so many Mae West jokes to be made, it’s not even funny. And the peanuts embroidered onto her sleeves are on point. I love when people embrace the things they love, which is why I guess I love how absurd the Candy Land ladies are. They’re not afraid to take a concept and go all out. It’s a reminder to always incorporate parts of your personality into what you wear.

Candy Land is supposed to be a silly, dreamy, place—a place that, like candy, represents fun. The bright colors, the clever use of candy accessories, and the confidence shown by the ladies of the Land just makes everything even better (I was going to say “sweeter,” you guys, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it). The Candy Land ladies embrace their hometown and their obsessions, and they don’t hide what they love, which makes them all the more lovable.

The ladies of Clue, on the other hand, have plenty to hide, which makes them diabolically rad.

Clue 50th Anniversary Edition cards, via Board Game Geek

Is this a master class in bitchface or what? All three of these women are potential murderers with plenty of secrets, yet Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock don’t shy away from slinky gowns, fur stoles, and whatever the hell is on Mrs. Peacock’s face. They are dressed for fancy times, dahling. They’re high-class criminals who carry an air of mystery while waltzing around in their oh-so-very outfits. And Mrs. White? The 50th Anniversary card above may not be her most fashionable representation. For that we turn to the inimitable Madeline Kahn in the movie version of Clue, who delivers one of the greatest lines of all time:

Halloween is coming up, and if you’re stuck on a costume idea, it may serve you well to dig through the old board games sitting in the basement for inspiration. And for once in your life, when someone sees your green beret, your dangly earrings, and yells, “Are you Maria!?!?” you’ll be able to say yes and feel like a total winner. ♦


  • Ella W October 2nd, 2012 3:19 PM

    Brilliant! I haven’t heard of the sweets game, but I flippin. loved guess who and cluedo when I was a kid. My friends came over the other day, and we spent 2 hours playing cluedo!

  • Marguerite October 2nd, 2012 3:21 PM

    Anne and Anita were my favorites, I thought that they were twins with their matching hair styles and similar names :)

  • Susann October 2nd, 2012 3:22 PM

    Maria from “Guess Who?” – how could I have forgotten about her? She had the most amazing style!

    Fashion in Pepperland

  • Abby October 2nd, 2012 3:52 PM

    OMFG I LOVE CLUE AND CANDY LAND SOOOOO MUCH. I saw Princess Lolly on the picture before it was posted, and I literally yelled out, “YESSS CANDY LAND”, prompting my roommate to bitchface and say “Um…. okay…..” I was just like, “Candy Land is Literally the Best Thing Ever.” And she just looked at me funny :(.

  • ravenflamingo October 2nd, 2012 3:56 PM

    THIS IS AMAZING THANK YOU!!!!!!! I always loved the female board game characters for their style when I was little especially Miss Scarlet and Princess Lolly and ugh this is perfect

  • Stacey October 2nd, 2012 3:59 PM

    Candy Land was may favorite game until I was like twelve! Princess Lolly was always my favorite and my sister and I used to pretend to be the characters in Candy Land. I was always Princess Lolly, and my sister was always Queen Frostine, and we always got whoever we had playing with us to be the other “not as cute” characters! Loved this!

  • Resh October 2nd, 2012 4:11 PM

    Worlds full of candy… hmm… Yup, I guess the latest representation of it that I saw was in California Gurls by Katy Perry. Clearly even candy worlds have lost their complete innocence these days. Sad, right?

  • angst October 2nd, 2012 4:19 PM

    game cards do not actually talk. lol
    guess who was my second grade free time life.

  • Indigoblue October 2nd, 2012 4:23 PM

    love this idea! Would have never thought of looking at board games for fashion inspiration though have always had a girl crush on miss scarlet…. ;-)

  • Naomi Morris October 2nd, 2012 4:24 PM

    this is so amazing, i can’t compute

  • moonchild October 2nd, 2012 4:28 PM

    I always thought Queen Frosteen was the prettiest person alive. Although I had no idea what candy she represented.

  • JillianYvette October 2nd, 2012 4:50 PM

    Clue is my favorite game of all time. OF ALL TIME.

  • kendallkh October 2nd, 2012 5:06 PM

    I love Princess Lolly’s hair! It reminds me of Marina’s ( I want pink curls.

  • Blythe October 2nd, 2012 5:32 PM

    I ALWAYS play as Miss Scarlet because a) she is the only “Miss” and b) she is super cool and sexy. Haven’t seen the movie though.

  • Sophii October 2nd, 2012 5:59 PM

    I love Guess Who and Cluedo. Maria and Miss Scarlett are my favourite characters x

  • carogenous October 2nd, 2012 6:03 PM

    Queen Frostine is the best name ever

  • Quistiadess October 2nd, 2012 6:04 PM

    awesome writing, killer last line- way to tie it all together! very funny :)

  • whatnaomiloves October 2nd, 2012 6:31 PM

    Guess Who! I’d forgotten about that game! Oh man, definitely one of my favorites. I think I liked Maria as well – for the same reason of her being the prettiest and most stylish.

    Also, yes, I played Candy Land this summer and it was not fun (I’m 20), but I loved the characters. Such a pretty board.

  • ToriLynne October 2nd, 2012 6:46 PM

    Eeee! I love this! When I was a kid I always wanted to be Princess Lolly! I still want to be Princess Lolly! Candyland is definitely my favorite board game. Love!
    xo, Tori

  • poison ivy October 2nd, 2012 7:07 PM

    yuck! grandma nutt freaks me out. i love miss scarlett though! probs cuz shes pretty, and i always want to be the pretty character…but still…

  • Harley October 2nd, 2012 7:22 PM

    Oh my cosh I love Rookie for having Batman as a background today!
    I also like this fashion too, super cool.

  • ickyteenagegirl October 2nd, 2012 7:28 PM

    These are my favorite board games!
    I would have more to say if this post didn’t already say exactly what I was thinking!

    Also, I’m stuck on what to be for halloween so i think I’m definitely going to have to look back on all of the super amazing ladies from my favorite childhood board games.

    (The video clips were amazing and got me cracking up too)

    AHHH! This post just rules so much!

  • book_kitty October 2nd, 2012 8:28 PM

    Love the writin and last line especially!

    I was a counsellor at a camp during the summer where every day there was a giant Clue game and you figured out the stuff by meeting the characters at different activities and looking for weapons and location cards. Super fun!!

  • sherbert October 2nd, 2012 8:39 PM

    give it up for the ORIGINAL candy land!!!

  • Jen L. October 2nd, 2012 8:43 PM

    The “Guess Who” theme song will likely be stuck in my head for the rest of eternity. Thanks for that, Pixie. Haha

  • sweeteelou October 2nd, 2012 8:59 PM

    I loved Candyland and Guess Who as a kid! I still play them actually…

  • luluella October 2nd, 2012 9:12 PM

    I didn’t remember how bad the gender inequality was in guess who until I played it again recently. It really bothered me. They’ve tried to show some kind of racial variety, age variety etc (admittedly not done very well on that front either), and it upsets me that this includes throwing some females in there. Um, the world is half female, shouldn’t there be 50% woman on that board? Terrible.

    On a completely different note, a really fun way to play guess who is to do it subjectively:

    “Are you somebody who takes risks?”

    And then you have to work out who you think does and who doesn’t, and then see if you get the right person in the end. It’s amazing how strong the prejudices we have towards appearance are. A friend and I, brought up in the same culture, got it right almost every time, even though they were subjective questions.

    It would be an interesting study.

  • fatale October 2nd, 2012 9:38 PM

    queen frostine!! the greatest. all 3 of these games were among my very most favorites so this was a lot of fun to read. :’)

  • Juli October 2nd, 2012 10:43 PM

    I remember when I was little, I always admired the Clue women for being so glamorous. I just thought they were so smug and cool and kind of hoped one of them was the murderer because it would make them seem smarter than that obnoxious Colonel Mustard.

  • Cactus Woman October 3rd, 2012 12:29 AM

    “Candy Land” is my high school’s homecoming theme!!! I hope it’s as fun as it sounds…
    Thanks for the Princess Lolly dress inspiration! I will definitely keep this in mind. :)

  • AriDumbledore October 3rd, 2012 12:34 AM

    I had a Candy Land computer game and I LOVED it so much. My favourite character was Queen Frostine, mostly because she was just sooo pretty (and I was obsessed with Disney/princesses, so that probably contributed to it).
    I remember I would spend so much time playing the computer game, and played the board game with my grandma all of the time. Ahh, childhood :)

    I have yet to play Clue though…

  • Mary the freak October 3rd, 2012 9:57 AM

    Guess who! Wow so many cute memories! long time ago… Excuse me now, I will get a few lollies to make a lollyflower crown.

  • HollinsCollins October 3rd, 2012 10:43 AM


  • lilmissleeloo October 3rd, 2012 10:47 AM

    Please check out the amazing Clue circa 1972. Its totally amazing and the best game ever. Also I’m old enough to remember the Clue movie coming out in theaters and the best part was the three different endings. You never knew what ending you’d get. Now Netflix and other rentals show all three.

  • heatherlou October 3rd, 2012 12:46 PM

    You should play existential Guess Who. It’s amazing and my friends and I play all the time. Instead of asking “Does this person wear a hat?” or “Does this person have freckles?” you ask “Does this person enjoy health food?” or “Has this person killed a man?” Strangely, it is totally possible to win using this method. Highly suggested.

  • laughinguacamole October 3rd, 2012 2:02 PM

    Oh clue. How I loved thee. It does seem a rather dark game for an eight year old to be playing, but… oh well. I always did love Ms. Scarlet.

  • CookyKurls October 3rd, 2012 4:49 PM

    Oh my gosh, I’d forgotten all about Guess Who! My sister and I were obsessed with it and as the all powerful older sister I’d always make sure I got the cool ones like Maria. Haha. Although she’d always kick my ass at Operation.

  • selinau October 4th, 2012 11:52 AM

    Guess who and clue are like the best games of all time. And yes Maria was my favorite too. And then the guy with the red beard, Herman I think?

  • vintagewhimsy October 5th, 2012 8:34 PM

    Candy Land is the best!! It was my favorite game when I was younger.. Probably because I love candy, but it could’ve been because of the clothing!