Fashion for the Throne

Among the slew of strong aspects that have landed this show in the annals of television history, Game of Thrones has been most revered by fans of the series for its well-developed characters, intelligent plot and pacing, and incredible visual dynamism. However, a facet of the show that has perhaps been undeservedly overlooked by fans is the astounding costume design that Emmy-award winning Michele Clapton and her team have labored over nigh-on a decade. Critics, however, have praised this element, and have awarded the lead costume designer, Clapton, and her team, for their work on numerous occasions. Further, the work that goes into what each character has worn on the hit show is incredibly specific and lends a crucial narrative to the overall plot of the series.

Kit Harrington as Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
in Season 8. (Courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO)

One key agenda behind specific costume choices is to signify a certain character’s allegiance or newfound allegiance. The Lannisters, the richest family in the Seven Kingdoms, can afford rich textiles, elaborate embroideries, and fine jewelry. The North, and particularly House Stark, is much more modest in wealth and thus their presentation consists of muted colors, necessary furs, little jewelry, and long hair and beards to protect from the harsh climate. With regards to the shifting fealty of central characters exhibited through costume design, both Tyrion and Jaimie Lannister began the series as colorful, richly adorned, and clean-shaven individuals loyal to their family and to King’s Landing. Now, season eight finds these two as gruff, world-weary soldiers fighting in the North for the opposing side—adapting the muted grays, blues, blacks, and even beards inherent in the North to signify their shifted allegiance.

Cersei Lannister’s costume design is a prime example of a character’s evolution through their story arc. Starting Season 1 as queen and wife of Robert Baratheon in striking crimson dresses flowing with jewels and long golden hair, we see her shift towards somber tones and black clothing to reflect her mood after the death of her son, Joffrey. She eventually loses all of her children, her father, and even her hair over progressive seasons, leading us to the Season 8 Cersei that is a queen on the Iron Throne adorned in black, armor-like dresses with hard edges as though they were meant to protect her from the world. This is further exhibited by Sansa Stark. At the shows onset, Cersei and the lavish attire of the royal court was Sansa’s prime outfit inspiration—sewing herself fashionable clothes to mimic the court dress and even going so far as to resent the utilitarian clothing of the North and her family. Eventually, after the trials and tribulations she endures, Sansa readopted the dark and gritty style of the North and therefore realigned herself away from the Lannisters and back into the fold of her family.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Season 4. (Courtesy of HBO)
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Season 8. (Courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO)

Game of Thrones’ costume designers worked tirelessly to weave in these subtle indications of a character’s evolution and achieve an astounding visual accomplishment to boot—and as we bid farewell to the show, we highlight here its fashion in a most special light.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark on her wedding day in Season 3.
(Courtesy of HBO)
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Season 8. (Courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO)