Style of Thrones: the secrets behind the costumes and hair on fantasy’s biggest hit
Game of Thrones is often praised for its intricate world-building, and one of the greatest contributors to the success of the show has been that of the unbelievable costume and hair departments. Thanks to the efforts of the behind-the-scenes team, the fantasy series has been nominated for best Outstanding Hairstyling at the Emmys every single season it has aired and has won Best Costume Design twice.
Game of Thrones has embedded itself so deeply into popular culture that it has inspired several fashion trends, with the show’s elaborate styles influencing some of the world’s most well-known fashion designers. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look back on some of the characters’ most memorable styles and uncover the secrets behind their costumes.
We’ll start with Queen of Dragons, Meereen and our fashion-forward hearts Daenerys Targaryen, who has varied up her look a lot across the seasons as she went from abused victim to commanding conqueror and from Essos to Meereen and back again.
Every season Dany’s appearance has changed. Prior to lass season Dany had been wearing a lot of blue. According to GoT costume designer Michele Clapton, her choice of blue is to honour her fallen husband Khal Drogo (blue being a Dothraki colour). The change to whites and greys in season five was to demonstrate her newfound power base. Speaking to Fashionista, Clapton said: “I wanted to give this rather untouchable [quality] to her. The idea behind the white and pale grey is the sense of removal, a removal from reality.”
The uniquely Daenerys neckline she often sports – split into a v-shape and tied together at the top – also has reasoning behind it. Clapton says: “It’s almost like it’s revealing, but at the last minute it’s not. It’s held together. She wants to be attractive and appealing, but at the same time she wants to be in control.”
Season six has seen a return to basics for the former Khaleesi, as Daenerys found herself once again amongst the Dothraki peoples. Dothraki fashion is inspired by the clothing of the Bedouins, an Arabian seminomadic group who historically roamed the Arabian and Syrian deserts.
As for the hair, Danaerys often sports braids as a homage to the Dothraki peoples – with whom she first began to wear them. GoT hair designer Kevin Alexander has stated that Emilia Clarke’s wigs are made from real human hair and it take around two hours to style appropriately on Clarke. The beautiful blonde-white colour we love so much is apparently very hard to care for, especially since Dany has a habit of standing very close to fire and smoke – which can turn her hair grey.
We hear so much about Kit Harington’s hair in the news (the fact it remained long after season five despite Harington’s adamancy he hated the style led many to suspect Snow was not as dead as he appeared), but how does he achieve those swoonworthy hero curls? Alexander says that he dyes Harington’s hair darker and dampens it before using a mixture of hair wax and putty to achieve that signature Jon Snow look.
The clothes at the wall and beyond are built to reflect the extreme cold that the North is supposed to represent. The Wildling costumes, one of which Jon sported during his adventures beyond the wall, are based on the fur clothing of the Inuit tribes, who wear their furs with the skin facing the outside and fur warming the body beneath.
After deciding to leave the Night’s Watch and Castle Black in season six, Sansa makes good use of her sewing skills and fashions herself and her half-brother similar clothing to what the Starks are known for – with Jon sharing a more-than-passing resemblance to his late father Ned. Jon also begins wearing his hair pulled away from his face in a half ponytail like Ned Stark. While we don’t have any word from the designers on their reasoning for this development, it seems to reflect Jon and Sansa’s returns to their Stark roots and even foreshadow a return to leadership for the beleaguered Stark family.
Never one to care about being ladylike, Arya’s witnessed quite a transformation in her styles throughout the series nevertheless. Since seasons five and six, she’s been demonstrating how an ordinary Braavosi might dress, in an outfit inspired by Russian costuming with fabric made to look like filigreed copper.
Arya’s costume choices are more practical than some of the other female characters, claims Clapton. “Arya just adopts costumes to the situation or place that she’s in. It’s not about Arya, it’s about the person she’s playing.”
While Arya will hopefully be able to escape Braavos very soon, we equally hope she won’t go back to her former Westerosi gear.
Recent imprisonment and conversion to the Faith aside, Margaery has absolutely rocked King’s landing fashion over the last few seasons since she arrived on the scene. Her early costumes demonstrate the very thing that Cersei is afraid of – the beauty of her youth. More so than any other female noble, Margaery flashes more skin, perfect for her role as the clever seductress who even manages to wrap the sadistic Joffrey around her little finger.
Margaery’s hair highlights the wide expanse of skin even more so, with it being pulled up higher than either Cersei or Sansa’s long medieval locks.
However, after marrying Tommen last season and finally being able to call herself Queen, Margaery adopts a less flashy look and one more reminiscent of Queen Cersei. More of her hair is loose, and her clothing choices are more chaste. She has got what she wanted. Clapton said: “It’s funny, I wanted her to be a bit more like Cersei, with the metal armor look. Margaery doesn’t need to play the, ‘Oh, I’ve hardly got anything on and I’m so young!’ game. She can actually say, ‘I’m queen now.'”
She has spent the majority of season six in a sack as she prepared for an atonement that never came, but since her apparent conversion to the faith in season six Margaery has again chosen chaste gowns and worn more of her hair down than ever before – in what we believe is a trick to fool the High Sparrow that she really is no longer anything like that cunning minx she was in season three.