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WORK IN PROGRESS

Clothing and fashion in Game of Thrones adds a major new layer to the narrative: the A Song of Ice and Fire novels could only give relatively brief descriptions of clothing styles, but in the visual medium of television, this element becomes much more prominent. Costume designer Michele Clapton was faced with the massive task of developing all of the unique clothing worn by characters across entire continents.

Costuming furthers the layers of the narrative in several major ways. First, it helps to establish a unique look for each of the Seven Kingdoms and other regions of the world, hopefully making it easier for viewers to distinguish between characters from the North, the Westerlands, or the Reach. Each of these unique fashions are also informed by the nature of each region, giving further visual detail about each of them, i.e. the North is cold but not very rich, so the Stark clothing style consists of heavy furs with little jewelry, while the Westerlands are very rich in precious metals, so the Lannister clothing style consists of more plate metal and jewelry.

As Clapton explained, the ruling noble families are the trend-setters in each of the regions they rule over. There is no unwritten rule that "all Westerlands characters dress like the Lannisters" as a conceit of the TV series, as if the writers imposed a uniform on them. Rather, it is an actual rule at work within the storyverse, that other Westerlands families self-consciously imitate the fashions set by the Lannisters, other noble families from the Reach try to imitate the fashions worn by the Tyrells, and so on.

Second, the costumes within the TV series are consciously intended to tell a narrative, and subtly reflect political allegiances. While the major ruling families of the Seven Kingdoms set the fashions that their own followers wear, the royal court at King's Landing is where rivalries are played out between political factions from the different kingdoms. Thus, characters who have great influence at the royal court will become popular trendsetters, resulting in minor lords, courtiers, and even handmaidens imitating their fashions. Conversely, as characters lose influence at the royal court, fewer courtiers will imitate their fashions (it's not that different from school rivalries between social cliques, with the most influential being the ones who ultimately set the fashions). The primary example of this in the TV series is that during Seasons 1 and 2, all of the courtiers in King's Landing imitated Queen Cersei Lannister's clothing styles. As a carefully planned development by Clapton, however, as Season 3 progressed more and more background courtiers started gradually switching to Margaery Tyrell's new fashions, to reflect her rising social and political influence at the expense of Cersei.

This article is therefore intended to be a convenient collection in one place of any statements that Michele Clapton and her costuming team have made about the decisions that went into designing the costumes seen in the TV series, both how they reflect in the in-story cultural details, and subtle hints they intended about characters which they conveyed through their clothing styles.

Westeros

The North

Cold and relatively not wealthy, Northmen wear heavy furs but few precious metals or jewelry. Soldiers cannot afford metal plate armor, generally relying on chainmail and boiled leather. Northern noblewomen cannot afford expensive jewelry, but still have dignity and make a concerted effort to wear attractive fashions, so they compensate for this lack of jewelry with elaborate embroidery.

Quotes

The Starks have less available to them and are in different circumstances as they live in cold, damp weather. Available to them is wool, leather, fur and some dyes. They have to think about warmth and wear the high padded embroidered collars as status rather than jewellery. The village people wear a simpler form of this look. They are not ostentatious and are a loving family who are not trying to prove anything. Only Sansa disagrees with this and we see this as she is influenced in her clothing, mainly by Cersei and as the plot develops, she moves away from this. http://onscreenfashion.com/2012/04/27/an-interview-with-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton/

Page 44 – “Costuming Winterfell”: “I used medieval Northern Europe as a starting point, but the skirts in the men’s costumes have a Japanese look to them. We were never bound by the rules of any particular time period. First, you have to think about what they need, the practicality of it, what materials they have readily available. We also decided we’d have no jewelry, so there’s a lot of embroidery and embellishment in the women’s clothing, as well as these lovely padded neck pieces. As for the men, most of the armor is leather with some metal inside, but rarely close to the skin due to the cold. The fur collars were meant to be wolf pelts for the adults, the children have rabbit, and the peasants have collars stuffed with sheep’s wool.

We have a lot of blues and grays, murkier colors that seemed right for the harsh northern climates. The Starks represent a warm family unit, so the blues of their costumes are rather warm. But within the family, the various personalities are reflected in what they wear. For example, Sansa is in a slightly cooler blue. And the design of the nobles’ clothes spirals outward; what they wear inspires the people around them, from the ladies-in-waiting to the household staff, on down to the peasants.

It’s important that the costumes reflect each character’s individual journey. I always like to tell a story through the clothes, and I think it helps the actors, too. Sansa is a perfect example of this. She leaves Winterfell for a life at court early in the first season and begins to take on more and more of Queen Cersei’s traits as season one goes on. By the end of the season, she’s really starting to look like her. But in season two, her dresses are destroyed in the first half of the season, and Sansa starts reverting back to her childhood. The colors start coming down, and she’s trying to alter things back to where she was. So at the end of it, she’s wearing something closer to her mother’s look. She’s come full circle.

By contrast, Ned was never seen adopting any of the clothing styles of King’s Landing. He had four different looks, a couple of which were slightly smarter, but Ned generally chose to keep things functional and practical. To that end, he’d often be seen in the padded linen skirts with the leather doublet, sometimes with a cape. Later in the season, as he began to sense trouble brewing, he started wearing his leather armor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_iFAjvYFo4 Clapton: “Ned Stark has an elegance to him, but he’s incredibly practical, I don’t want him to look like he ever thinks about what he’s wearing.” Sean Bean: “What he wears, you know, says something about who he is. So he’s not prepared to be flouncing about like the others in gowns and silks and stuff like that.

Clapton continues: “Catelyn, again, similar sort of tones, and very underplayed, quite simple clothing. Catelyn doesn’t think particularly about what she wears, she wears what she’s always worn, it’s a traditional way, and that’s her look.”

“It was quite nice putting [Sansa and Arya] initially in very similar costumes. You have these sort of tied, knotted tops, and of course Sansa's are knotted quite nicely with little embroidery bits on the end, and all very nice, and Arya's are just all messy and unknotted and falling apart, and she takes the sleeves off. It's quite nice to have the two of them very similar, then to split apart so far away from each other.”

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The Westerlands

In contrast to the North, the Westerlands are the wealthiest of the Seven Kingdoms, rich in precious metals. Soldiers from the Westerlands can afford full plate armor, with complex movable visors. Apparently to distinguish the Westerlands from the "classic" European-style armor seen in the Reach or the Vale, designs from the Westerlands have a strong Japanese influence. Cersei is paranoid and tries to armor herself against the threats she feels are around her, so her dresses are layered like armor, often including (symbolic) metal plating, in addition to expensive jewelry. To give this "layered" effect, Cersei's dresses wrap around her, like a Japanese kimono. Other Westerlands noblewomen imitate Cersei's styles. To correspond to the asymmetric look of Cersei's kimono-like dresses, Westerlands men wear leather tunics with asymmetric collars (seen on Jaime, Lancel, and Tywin).

Quotes

“Tywin is a little more opulent–I really like his look this season,” Clapton said. “There are a lot of really tough leather looks which were really detailed–they look rich. Some of the cut leather pieces are my favorite.” http://fashionista.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-costumer-designer-gives-us-the-dirt-on-season-3/7/

The Lannisters are very wealthy, competitive, they live in the capitol and power is important. It’s warm and on the coast which means there is trade and they don’t have to worry about keeping warm. They have a large staff with silks and jewels readily available to them. As Cersei influences the court and we notice her hatred for her husband, through season two we start to see her style begin to shift as her role changes. http://onscreenfashion.com/2012/04/27/an-interview-with-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_iFAjvYFo4 Cersei is all about fashion and styling. She tends to wear very soft wrapped silks which are embroidered. It's like a kimono style, but with a slightly medieval cut. And she has a lot of metal bits, because I like the idea that she's armored in a sense.

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The Reach

Nearly as wealthy as the Westerlands, the Reach was also the cultural heartland of the Andals in Westeros for centuries. The Faith of the Seven even used to be based in the largest city of the Reach, Oldtown. As a result, the Reach's knights generally wear "classic" Western European-style armor, and other Andal kingdoms were subsequently given variant designs to set them apart from this standard look (i.e. the Westerlands wear Japanese-inspired armor). As the heartland of chivalry, and relatively wealthy, knights from the Reach often have fairly ornate armor. Margaery Tyrell's fashion was designed to completely contrast with Cersei's, so viewers can readily distinguish when background courtiers switch from emulating Cersei to emulating Margaery. While Cersei wears layered, wrap-around, armor-like dresses, Margaery embraces her sexuality as a political tool, exposing a large amount of skin. Margaery's dresses are backless and with plunging necklines, frequently including cutouts exposing her sides. Cersei's fashions included billowing sleeves, as if to shield herself, while Margaery's dresses are completely sleeveless, exposing the skin of her arms. This also reflects that the Reach has a somewhat warmer climate than the Westerlands and Riverlands (though not as hot as the deserts of Dorne). Other noblewomen and handmaidens from the Reach emulate Margaery's style. Older noblewomen such as Margaery's grandmother Olenna, meanwhile, wear similar fashions but with another layer of clothing underneath, exposing less skin: Olenna also wears a crespine headdress to cover her hair, to maintain a further air of dignified age. Male clothing for non-martial occasions (seen on Loras and his father Mace) also tends to be the opposite of the Lannisters, with loose sleeves but a symmetric cut to the front of the tunic.

Quotes

Margaery’s funnel-neck dress: “Margaery’s funnel dress was obviously an homage to the wonderful Alexander McQueen’s costume for Bjork. It just felt right that this young ambitious girl would be experimenting with shapes, honing her style skills which we now see her employing to great effect. It was a risk and divided the audience.”

Margaery’s wedding dress: I’m pretty pleased with Margaery's dress...it took weeks...months even, with all the roses and embroidery, and the bias cut was hard to achieve with the cutaway elements that are essential for her style...I wanted it to be pretty, but on closer inspection, strong and to tell the story of her ambition...the crowns particularly tell this.

http://winteriscoming.net/2014/02/game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton-talks-westeros-fashion-margaerys-dress-with-vanity-fair/

The general rule with the Tyrells is that they actually don’t wear bold green most of the time, because this looks threatening. They tend more towards softer shades of green such as teal, because they want to exude gentleness instead of overtly threatening. But they do shift to darker green for war, i.e. Loras’s sparing costume.

Page 105 – Margaery Tyrell sweeps into King’s Landing and takes it by storm. As such, her wardrobe is very unique and very much at odds with everything else in King’s Landing. It’s a very structured look – the new style coming in after the war. For the first time in a long time, Cersei won’t be the trendsetter in the capital. It’s a fun way to reflect their future rivalry.”

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King's Landing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_iFAjvYFo4 "They're near the sea, they can trade, they have silks, they have colors. We decided really, through the buildings, through the architecture, and through the climate, to make it much more "Persian" I guess in feel. King Robert, although he's living in King's Landing, I wanted to make it that actually at least he and Ned weren't so far apart. Mark Addy: "He'd rather be in the boiled leather armor, getting his hands dirty with the guys, that's where he's the most comfortable." Clapton: "So though he's slightly grander, and you know, the fabrics are slightly better, it's not going to be lots of pomp and ceremony about him, I don't think that's what he's about. He's a soldier that's become a king."

How do you dress a medieval fantasy prostitute? Same way as you dress everyone else, but with a slight twist. In King’s Landing, for example, they wear similar costumes to the hand maidens–the difference is that they come off much more strategically. “[Just like] you see with contemporary prostitutes,” Clapton said. “They wear something similar to someone going out for the night–it’s just what they do with it and how they wear it.” http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/8/

Cersei in Season 3 inexplicably starts wearing plunging funnel neck dresses like Margaery used to wear in Renly’s camp (before she came to King’s Landing). What’s the in-universe explanation? http://fashionista.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-costumer-designer-gives-us-the-dirt-on-season-3/4/

Even on-screen, they point out that Sansa subtly dresses more like Margaery in Season 3, because she’s still young and impressionable and emulates people she wants to befriend.

Joffrey’s looks just get increasingly more opulent because he’s an arrogant fool http://fashionista.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-costumer-designer-gives-us-the-dirt-on-season-3/9/ (contrast with that Robert wore expensive and high quality materials, but generally his clothes were mostly functional, as he was at heart a soldier who won his throne on the battlefield). http://fashionista.com/2013/04/game-of-thrones-fashion-recap-who-are-you-calling-a-harlot/3/

The best costumes are complementary, reflecting the personality of the person wearing the garb. There's no better example in Game of Thrones than Margaery Tyrell, a young and beautiful queen-to-be who uses daring fashion to gain more power. "From the very beginning she is brave and experimental in her look, which I wanted. She was a young girl who wanted to be the queen," Clapton explained. Margaery is often spotted in revealing or outré outfits. One episode she wore a funnel dress that Clapton told Vogue was an homage to an Alexander McQueen dress made for Bjork. "It was ridiculous. She's a teenage girl trying things out." But over the seasons she has refined her look as she has learned how to wield her body to her benefit, explains Clapton. "She honed this look that was girlishly sexy because she could see that it was exactly what Cersei couldn't do. The more armor and more regal Cersei got, the more girlish and simple Margaery became--very knowing." http://www.fastcompany.com/3028226/most-creative-people/deciphering-the-hidden-messages-in-game-of-thrones-costumes

Sansa Stark has a strong dragonfly motif; she’s worn dragonfly necklaces even *before* she came to King’s Landing, so it isn’t something from Cersei’s look that she is imitating. It *may* be a subtle reference to Duncan Targaryen, “The Prince of Dragonflies”. Duncan was betrothed in a political marriage, but fell in love with Jenny of Oldstones (apparently a lowborn girl); despite being the oldest son and heir, he abdicated to marry Jenny for love. He later died in the Tragedy of Summerhall, alongside his father Aegon V, so his younger brother succeeded Aegon V afterwards. Why not Jonquil and Florian? Florian was a knight but he wasn’t rich, and if anything Jonquil may have been the fair maiden he won. Moreover they’re a legend, while the Prince of Dragonflies lived only forty years before (i.e. Barristan Selmy and Brynden Tully actually lived through this, fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings right after Duncan’s younger brother succeeded). So Sansa fantasizes that she will be the next Jenny of Oldstones, whisked off by her handsome prince. When Sansa Stark, an aspiring queen, arrives at King's Landing from her more humble origins, for example, she attempts to dress like Cersei Lannister, the Queen Regent of the entire empire, whom she idolized at the time. Cersei embodied everything Sansa thought she wanted in life, so she attempted to copy her in the way she knew how, through clothing. But she didn't quite get it right, and looks like she's playing a child's game of dress-up, drowning in an ill-fitting gown. "A lot of people said her costume doesn't fit. Well, of course it doesn't! She's a young girl trying to copy someone," explained Clapton. "Not everyone wears things brilliantly or beautifully, or has the access to do that. I think it's really important that some things don't fit. Some things are slightly odd." http://www.fastcompany.com/3028226/most-creative-people/deciphering-the-hidden-messages-in-game-of-thrones-costumes

Where a character comes from is indicated through the color and cut of the costume. When we first see Sansa [Sophie Turner], she wears things in a Stark way — very well, but they are slightly clumsy and the cloth is rather homespun. As she comes to King’s Landing, her progression is influenced by Cersei [Lena Headey] and her costumes shift. After Cersei does the awful thing of sanctioning the death of Ned Stark [Sansa’s father], Sansa is stuck — you can see her frozen in time. She’s looking like someone who has just killed her father. And then we will see her progression as she slowly withdraws from the look. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2012/03/creative-minds-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton.html

It’s also interesting to look at Littlefinger’s [Aidan Gillen] journey — he started off very much as a courtier, he was always very organized with his little chain and his notebook, and then suddenly he actually stopped wearing the mantle. He had just little glimpses of turquoise beneath his costume and the slit was cut slightly higher. ... Slowly you realize he ran brothels. His costumes, just slowly, became a little richer. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2012/03/creative-minds-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton.html

The genius of Jaime Lannister's golden hand next season, which we also get a sneak peak of in the video above, snuck up on Clapton, for example. His sister, Cersei, gifts it to him as a replacement for the one that got chopped off last season. In that vein, Clapton designed it as something Cersei would choose to disguise a deformity that she fears. It's beautiful, ornate, and feminine.

But, the prop actually turned out to embody Jaime's personality in a way Clapton didn't expect. "It became the right thing for Jaime. He's not just this sort of a brutal, sarcastic, callous man. He actually has a really sensitive, quite interesting side." In this case, the character became more like the costume Clapton designed for him. "It was really beautiful in a way," she added. http://www.fastcompany.com/3028226/most-creative-people/deciphering-the-hidden-messages-in-game-of-thrones-costumes

On creating the details on Sansa's wedding gown: "Wedding days should be a joyous event for the bride, but, unfortunately, Sansa's being forced into a marriage that she doesn't want, into the Lannister family. For this dress, Michelle wanted it to be a confined, restricted bodice shape with bare, vulnerable arms. She wanted an embroidered band that would wrap around the bodice and tell Sansa's life story. "Obviously we imagined that the wedding dress has been commissioned by Cersei and the Lannisters for Sansa, and so the embroidery would have come from Cersei's mind. We guessed that it wouldn't be romantic or lovely and girly and pretty with dainty flowers, but a real strong message of dominance, saying that we own you now, Sansa. Michele Carragher on embroidery: "For the wedding band, I started at the back of the waist with some Stark direwolves and Tully fish entwined that represent Sansa's parentage. Then, as we move to the side, the Lannister lion is tangling with the direwolf and emerging on top, representing Sansa being seduced and then controlled by members of the house of Lannister. As it moves up the center, there's a central ascending lion that's got a Baratheon-like crown, a nod to Joffrey's parentage. At the back neck, the Lannister lion is stamped onto it, representing how the Lannisters now have total ownership over this girl who was once a Stark." http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2014/04/04/36776/game-of-thrones-the-woman-behind-the-costumes-intr/

Page 70 – “Costuming King’s Landing” – “One of the mandates early on was to make King’s Landing very distinct from the traditional medieval courts and cities one usually finds in these types of stories. It’s warm and sunny; the climate is somewhat Mediterranean. It’s a lot of fun to do because King’s Landing is a port city, so we have access to color, silks, much more variety. And the Lannisters are a huge presence, so there’s a lot of red, but also pale greens and saffron yellows, and you can use jewelry. There are a lot of choices. As with Winterfell and other regions, I started with the most prominent characters because, in theory, the people are influenced by the head of the society. So Cersei has these kimono-style, wrap-around dresses that influence the other ladies at court and in the city. Even the prostitutes in Littlefinger’s brothel wear a similar-style dress, albeit in a different way. Then there’s Jaime, with his asymmetrical coat, whose influence trickles down to the male characters.” Page 70 “This was a challenge, as I’ve never designed armor before. We started with the Kingsguard, which are totally white in the books. But we felt that wouldn’t translate well on-screen, so we worked gold into the design, while still keeping the signature white cloak. Page 70 Simon Brindle, costume armor supervisor: “The Lannister armor is more militaristic, intimidating, sinister – with a Japanese influence that’s quite disarming. With the Gold Cloaks, there’s a Persian influence in keeping with the Medeterranean look of the city.” Brindle: “I loved the opportunity to work on this series, as you’re not tied down to any one period. This was so freeing. I was intrigued by Michele’s initial designs for the Kingsguard and the Lannister guard. She was looking at eastern influences, Asian, Indian – unusual references for this sort of thing –w hich she mixed with recognizable touchstones from western medieval European armor.”

Page 81 – “Costuming Cersei” – “When we first meet Cersei, she’s in a deeply unhappy marriage but is set in her ways and her style. Then Robert dies and Joffrey takes power, and slowly she gets harder. The bird embroidered on her clothes gives way to more and more lions. I wanted to increase her shell, I guess. Everything’s more ornate, grander, until we finally see her in Episode 209 in a sort of armored corset. I don’t know how strong she really is, but she wants to project that image. I’ve always wanted to do this with her costume, from the start, back when we were doing the pilot.”

Page 161 – “Regarding the family sigils, we generally wanted to avoid having characters wearing them on their chests, like Superman or something, but Viserys is the one character who sports this huge [dragon] sigil doublet. He wears it the whole time, as if to scream, “I’m a Targaryen!” And it gets more battered and dirties as the season goes on and he gets further and further waway from what he wants. It’s a lovely way to reflect this blind hope; the costume fades with him.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_iFAjvYFo4 Viserys, there's a sort of link to King's Landing, I mean he remembers, he's older, he remembers the styles that were worn then. The cut is actually quite similar, very sort of clean lined, with very much a dragon emblem, and ready to go back and claim his throne.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ottevaCcAw Joffrey's wedding costume was supposed to be ostentatious, opulent and almost distasteful. Joffrey's wedding crown has Baratheon antlers but subtley, creeping roses and vines within it, and Margaery's crown is all rose fines, implying that Margaery is wrapping her control around him.

Margaery's wedding dress: "I wanted it to be sort of quite traditional dress in a funny way. But then again roses can be so pretty, and I didn't want her to be pretty, I wanted her to be slightly dangerous, because I think she is. And it just literally grew from there." - hence the metal rose vines running along her dress, which subtley are spiked with metal thorns if you look closely, showing her danger underneath.

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The Riverlands

The Riverlands were never entirely unified, but were a border region fought over by the surrounding kingdoms. As a result the local Houses of the Riverlands are very diverse, instead of there being one set "Riverlands style".

So far, the TV series has developed two unique fashions for the Tullys and for the Freys.

House Tully

Catelyn Stark’s collar during her father’s funeral actually features a repeated fish design. Tully armor is covered in metal scales, visually evoking fish scales, like the trout used in their heraldry.

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House Frey

The Freys *are not* a poor family, but they have a very grubby look; the idea being that Lord Walder is too cheap to buy nice things (he got new-rich by money-grubbing). But if you think about it, the North isn’t wealthy either, but they still make an attempt to look nice or at least well-maintained; they don’t have jewelry but they at least try to supplement with embroidery. Walder Frey is shameless and doesn’t care about his appearance (even to attempt to project an image of wealth; people know he has wealth) so he has no problem with letting his family be seen wearing grubby, worn-out clothing.

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The Stormlands

They are not as wealthy as the Lannisters but also not as poor as the North, so their armor has a bit more of a shape to it. Better than the bucket helmets of the Northern footmen, though not the intricate movable visors of the Lannisters.

Renly Baratheon knows how to dress well

Brienne of Tarth Putting Brienne in a dress in Season 3 to show her discomfort http://fashionista.com/2013/05/game-of-thrones-fashion-recap-many-betrothals-and-one-pink-dress/2/

With Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), for instance, she is a woman but we want to mistake her for a man; however, no matter what you do, women have hips. We just started making the lines on the armor go away from her waist and slowly she began to look more masculine — at the same time, the armor also had to be functional. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2012/03/creative-minds-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ottevaCcAw "Brienne's new armor: Jaime I don't think has a great deal of imagination, so we didn't think he would come up with anything particularly fanciful. It's based on the shape of her original armor, but it's just made by better armorers, being King's Landing." Brienne's original armor was from mismatched sets because they weren't made for a woman's body shape, while the new one she gets is a complete suit intended for her female proportions (wider hips).

Stannis Baratheon: darker, dour colors because Stannis is the opposite of Renly. He doesn’t stand on ceremony. Sort of like with Robert (in his clothing, at least) Stannis’s clothing is well-made but practical.

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The Vale

Looks ornate but faded and old: the Vale has a proud, arrogant aristocracy, who place a greater value on ancient blood (mostly Andal but also First Men) than any other region (even the Lannisters aren't very obsessed about that kind of thing, having intermingled from the start). The problem is that they’re an impoverished aristocracy; the isolation of their mountains has allowed them to sit out major wars, maintain their blood purity, but their mountains are not rich the way the mountains of the Westerlands are. That's sort of their “hat” – impoverished aristocracy who like to their their bloodlines make them better than everyone else because it’s really all they have going for them.

Men tend to wear plain white surcoats over bright steel armor. They can’t afford the elaborate embellishments of Lannister or Tyrell knights.

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Iron Islands

The Iron Islands are cold, wind-swept rocks, and the ironborn spend much of their time on the windy decks of ships at sea. Thus their clothing focuses on protection from the wind, including not capes but full ponchos, oiled with grease to keep out the elements. The Iron Islands are also quite poor, so their common warriors cannot afford metal plate (though ironborn nobles that can afford armor plate wear it on their ships, unafraid of drowning at sea).

Yara Greyjoy dresses in the style of ironborn men, though her armor has been customized slightly to fit a woman's physique. Yara is very unique in ironborn culture, which usually frowns on female warriors, but she is the only ironborn noblewoman to prominently appear in the TV series. Thus the TV series has not really established a fashion style for "civilian" ironborn noblewomen, at their castles outside of military action.

Quotes

“After his baptism, he takes on the style of the Greyjoys, which look like the rocks of the island they live on. Padded, studded jackets, oiled with grease, heavy coat pieces, which they can wrap in and protect themselves from the elements.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov9RoXxtwU0 Game Of Thrones Season 2: Anatomy Of A Scene - Theon Being Baptized

If they live on a windy, rocky island, like the Greyjoys do, then they dress accordingly: They have costumes made of heavy, densely woven cloth that are waxed and painted with fish oil to help keep out the wind. Everything has a reason for being there.

I loved dressing the Greyjoys [in Season 2]. Those costumes were so organic and so crunchy. We wanted them to look like the rocks on the island — they have no ambition for anything, everything is completely practical. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2012/03/creative-minds-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton.html

Page 122-123 – “I think the look for the Iron Islands is my favorite. As we do whenever we’re designing a new look for a specific region, we examined their surroundings. In the case of the Iron Islands, it’s damp and drafty, rocky, surrounded by sea. So the costumes are wind resistant as opposed to warm – thin, padded linen pieces. We have a lot of armor on this show, so it was important to make each look distinct, so you can identify it immediately when you see it. Rather than using metal armor, we used riveting and studding, which we would assume is padded behind and therefore pretty resistant to arrows or blades. Then there’s a metal breastplate, covered in leather, with the kraken sigil branded on it. Instead of a cape – we’ve done so many capes – it’s a piece that can be sculpted around the actor, so it becomes windproof; stiff but fluid, too. And Alfie [Allen], in particular, looks great in it – it makes him move in a different way. I didn’t want them to have too much ephemeral stuff. Very simple, not particularly cheerful. As for the color, it’s the color of the rocks – grey, with some yellowy patches. It works well – and feels very much of the world.”

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Dorne

Drastically different: Dorne is a hot desert environment, or at best in Sunspear a very arid Mediterranean climate, so their clothing is simply more open so they can cool more easily – women have exposed arms or slit sleeves, not the billowing cape-like sleeves of Cersei Lannister (they’re a bit like the Tyrells in this respect, but Dorne is even hotter). Low necklines on both men and women. Closer ties with the Free Cities plus unique local dyes means they are more brightly colored. In many ways the opposite of the North: in the North, the designs are meant to retain heat, in Dorne they’re meant to shed heat; north has dull blues to emphasize that they can’t afford foreign dyes, while Dorne has easy access to bright color dyes.

Quotes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ottevaCcAw Oberyn Martell: "It's actually quite a feminine look, but he wears it in a really masculine way." The big point with Dornish armor is that it values mobility, so (as in the books) it is lighter.

Oberyn's battle armor is snakeskin. The tassel of his spear is python-skin. http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/2014/6/4/see-a-showcase-of-on-screen-items-from-the-mountain-and-the-viper

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Night's Watch

Members of the Night's Watch wear all-black clothing, the rejection of Heraldry and all prior allegiances. Due to the decline of the Watch, they cannot afford standardized gear, so new recruits have to simply dye what clothes they brought with them black. Some like Jon Snow or Samwell Tarly came from noble families and thus brought fairly high-quality winter clothing with them. Most new recruits, however, were taken from the prisons of the Seven Kingdoms, and simply came to the Wall with the clothes on their backs - which often were not intended to protect against cold weather.

Quotes

Page 27 – “Costuming the Night’s Watch”: “These men couldn’t all wear the same color, the same shade of black. The Night’s Watch is deteriorating, their numbers are dwindling, they have no money, so the clothes needed to reflect those circumstances. We worked with the idea that they’ve dyed their clothes black, which gives you different shades. And, of course, they have furs to keep warm, but everything always has to be drawn from what they can get nearby. It’s all very dirty, very raw. We also decided we’d keep the recruits in their own clothing, aside from crude standard-issue sparring armor. They don’t don their black garb until they’ve passed muster and taken their Night’s Watch vows. Many of the new recruits are plucked from prisons, so they don’t have a cape or cloak. So within the recruits, there’s a mixture of colors and fabrics, depending on where they came from. Sam, for instance, coming from a noble background, has a much higher standard of clothing. Jon Snow’s look initially came from Winterfell, but because he’s the bastard, his clothes aren’t quite of the same quality as his brothers and sisters. When he goes to the Wall, he keeps the same costume but introduces some new dark elements. Then of course, he goes fully black once he takes his vows. He retains his original black cape throughout the series; it’s a piece of home, which makes sense for his character, I think.

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Wildlings

The wildlings have a very hardscrabble existence, so their clothing is made from heavy furs and skins from animals, to protect against the cold and snow. Female wildlings sometimes wear skirts, but spearwives (female warriors) such as Ygritte do not.

The wildlings are not sophisticated enough to forge iron, so as a rule, their costumes do not contain any metal - save for weapons which they have scavenged from dead Night's Watch rangers. Occasionally, some wildlings also trade with smugglers along the coasts, exchanging furs and other resources for iron weapons. Otherwise, most wildlings wield weapons made of wood or animal bone, or decorate their clothing with wood and bone.

The Thenn people are a major exception to this, because while they are not sophisticated enough to forge iron, they are capable of forging copper. Then warriors thus wear basic copper armor shirts, not actual plate, but discs of copper strung together as a vest. While this is not as effective as steel plate produced in King's Landing, it is much better protection than most other wildlings possess.

Giants simply swaddle themselves with whatever skins or pieces of cloth they can find, giving them an almost mummified appearance.

Quotes

We’ve all read the books and we look at it to a point, but sometimes a written description of a costume doesn’t necessarily translate well to the screen. Since it’s such a complicated story, the looks had to enable the viewer to know where they are, who these people are and who they represent. We made all the costumes for [characters from] the North from skins. For research, we looked at the Inuits and at Tibetan tribes — we try and look at peoples in different times in history to see how they would have dressed in that environment. ... I also looked at Lascaux cave paintings in France — they have these wonderful animal paintings. We decided that every time they killed an animal, the hunters would have to paint an animal onto their costume. The better the hunter, the more covered in these drawings he would be, which I think visually is really strong. We’re always looking for ways to show who the leader is. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2012/03/creative-minds-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton.html

We have weavers, embroiderers and printers so a lot of costumes are created from scratch. Craster’s wives costumes for instance, were woven from raffia, rabbit skin and feathers which were then aged in our breakdown rooms. http://onscreenfashion.com/2012/04/27/an-interview-with-game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton/

http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/2/ Game of Thrones‘ Hair and Wardrobe Secrets Revealed

Clapton said that besides medieval England and Europe, she looked at all different tribes and cultures. The Bedouins inspired the look of the Dothraki, the desert oasis of Qarth owes a nod to Persia and the Middle East, and the wildlings north of the Wall wear their fur the same way as the Inuit tribes (that would be fur side in, skin side out). She was also inspired by Japanese and Persian armor, but you won’t find literal translations in the series.

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Essos

Free Cities

Costumes of the Free Cities have not been extensively developed in the TV series yet. What little was seen of Pentos in the first episode of Season 1 is shown to be adapted for a relatively warm, Mediterranean climate.

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Dothraki

The Dothraki primarily wear clothing artfully woven from the plentiful tallgrass of the Dothraki Sea. All Dothraki warriors must wear riding chaps made from horse leather.

Quotes

Khal Drogo, he's very practical, with the leather trousers, very basic, a simple amount of lacing on. (What jewelry he might have such as his golden belt is probably a gift from the Free Cities). Page 151 – “The look for the Dothraki changed a bit between the original pilot and the filming of the series, and it was a tricky one to get. There was danger of going too far in one direction, too far into strictly African or Native American. Originally, their look was a bit more theatrical, but we brought it down by taking it straight back to their environment. What do they have access to? Well, there’s grass from the grasslands; the women weave. And there are skins from small animals. All the colors were quite natural and one with the land, but we wanted to give it something else. So we developed this blue paint, this pigment, that maybe they developed by crushing stones, and that they used relatively sparingly for celebrations – like the wedding in Episode 101. Visually it became much more exciting, this blue within this very barren landscape. We also looked at a lot of images of Afghani horsemen, which inspired the Dothraki riding boots. We imagined their footwear would be designed to accommodate riding first and foremost, since they’re a horse culture. So they have these heels that keep their feet in the stirrups. And, if you’re riding, you need trousers – leather trousers – even Daenerys had them under her skirts, as do some of the other Dothraki women. But we didn’t want to be frivolous about it – the weaving was practical and gave it a nice texture.”

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Qarth

Qarth is a rich city far to the east of Westeros, so its fashions are very exotic and opulent. Qartheen men wear vests which are covered in extravagant gold tracing and jewelry on the front, but they are most concerned about appearances: the back side of the costume is plain and unadorned. Men and women embellish their clothing with large gold pieces made in the shape of insects, encrusted with jewels.

Clapton actually went so far as to design the very revealing Qartheen dress described in the books, but the producers told her they intended to include that in the adaptation.

Quotes

I agree that books allow the reader to create images in their head, and I do the same but have to share them! But actually it's more complicated than that. Sometimes there will be something that I think is really important to show in a character. For instance, Mance Rayder’s cloak with the patches of color which represent his reason for joining the Wildlings — this was discussed and on this occasion it didn't happen. We don't always agree, but then I'm only looking from the costume viewpoint. Another issue is [the] principal [actor's] hat-wearing north of the wall. Of course they should wear them but, as it is explained to me often, we would not see who was who. So we work as a team, as we should. I have spoken with George but only really on the pilot; he does not visit set very often. I'm sure it isn't what he had in his mind but then some of the descriptions of the costumes in the book would be hard to translate to screen and would really dominate characters. It would be a very different show.

Is there a certain emphasis on sexy that you need to keep in mind? In some cases the sex is even toned down — for example, the Quartheen gowns in the book that Daenerys wear expose one breast. I had actually designed the dresses to reveal one breast and was surprised when they didn't want to go in that direction. But actually, we filmed that in Morocco and it would have been very difficult to find the number of women required to do it. Even to just film it would have been hard. http://www.spin.com/articles/game-of-thrones-costume-designer-michele-clapton-interview-hbo/

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Asshai

Characters from Asshai, such as Melisandre and Quaithe, wear fashions with a distinctive motif of elongated hexagons.

Quaithe's mask was designed to display a stylistic link to Melisandre, because both of them are from the region of Asshai. Melisandre wears an ornate neck piece featuring a repeated design motif of elongated hexagons. Quaithe's mask was constructed using the same hexagonal shapes as links, though filled in with metal. Further, the dresses of both Melisandre and Quaithe have the same hexagonal design motif (elongated so they are taller than they are wide). Melisandre has different dresses, and she usually wears an all-red one, but the one with hexagons which match her neck piece appears prominently in "The Night Lands" when she has sex with Stannis.[1]

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Slaver's Bay

The slave-masters of Slaver's Bay wear a clothing style with a repeated motif of rings which the fabric of their clothing is interwoven with, visually evoking slave chains.

Quotes

The uniform of the unsullied, an army of elite warrior eunuchs, which was inspired by beetles, can fit many different body types, but not at the expense of a metaphor. "The final piece that really made it come together was the idea of obscuring the face," explained Clapton. "This really removed all personality, it sort of felt that it was the perfect ethos to be unsullied--all personality removed." http://www.fastcompany.com/3028226/most-creative-people/deciphering-the-hidden-messages-in-game-of-thrones-costumes

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Daenerys Targaryen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_iFAjvYFo4 Daenerys starts as this very innocent, beautiful young girl, and I just wanted a real elegance of cut, and a simplicity. Certainly not medieval, it's almost slightly Grecian, but it's her own particular style. I think it's from when she takes the initiative with Drogo, she then becomes Dothraki. “For the first time she’s her own person, so she begins to develop her own style, with some reference to what we’ve seen before,” Clapton told us. “She has control of herself and control of her look. It’s very different, quite a strong look. [There are] references to dragons in the texture [of some of the looks].” And if you think you’ve noticed that Daenerys favors blue, it’s not your imagination. “I like to put blues on her because they’re a reference back to Khal Drogo [her dead husband] and the Dothraki, because blue was their special color. We decided [in season one] that it was a rare natural pigment available to them in their region, so it’s sort of her weird tribute to him,” Clapton said. “So yes, blue is a very important color for her, and I think she’ll carry that through for a while.” http://fashionista.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-costumer-designer-gives-us-the-dirt-on-season-3/2/

One piece is even made out of fish skin that Clapton thought looked like dragon scales. After the journey across the desert to Qarth, out of courtesy Daenerys accepts some Qarth-style dresses. As she gets stronger and more sure of herself, she adopts the men’s Qarthian coat style over a gold corset and her Dothraki leather pants, completing her style evolution. “She needs to have a strength to her but also vulnerability,” Clapton said. “We’ll take her [look] even further as she finds herself.” http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/4/

Clapton said of the look, “The trousers are practical. The Dothraki are nomadic so they ride every day. The dress is based on the Quarth shape–it’s the only other shape of dress she has seen so she has interpreted into her individual look.” http://fashionista.com/2013/04/game-of-thrones-fashion-recap-we-are-not-men/4/


Daenerys’s slave-style simple gown was actually a Vionnet gown with a few neckline alterations: they didn’t have time to invent a new dress from scratch, but Clapton saw it in a store window and Dubrovnik and loved it; it was very similar to some concepts they’d been discussing, and feels it was “meant to be”, to find it at the last minute. http://fashionista.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-costumer-designer-gives-us-the-dirt-on-season-3/5/


Michele Carragher on embroidery: On creating the dragon-scale pattern for Daenerys: "I started to be involved in embellishing her costumes in season three. The decoration on her costume develops from a subtle texture, and as she increases in power and strength, this texture becomes more defined to map out her journey in the story. ... As Dany grows in strength with her dragons, the texture becomes more embellished and grows down the costume." http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2014/04/04/36776/game-of-thrones-the-woman-behind-the-costumes-intr/ Page 158 – “Costuming Daenerys” – At the start of the series, Dany has lived most of her life being told how to dress, initially by her brother. She has two key dresses in the first episode: her “viewing” dress and her wedding dress. The “viewing” dress is essentially designed to make her look naked, as Drogo’s come to see the goods, basically. It’s accented by these dragon-head brooches, which also hold it up. As for the wedding dress, it was meant to unwrap, as if Drogo is opening a present. And, of course, at the end of the first season, she burns in it, which is rather poignant – the end of her story with Drogo. Dany steps into Dothraki society and grows within it. Her costume throughout the season reflects that. She starts off with a basic Dothraki outfit, but as she evolves, she ends up having a bit more ornamentation. When she goes to the market in Vaes Dothrak, she buys what looks like a dragon-skin top and starts to create her own look, within the Dothraki style. Dany takes what’s presented to her, adapts it, and evolves with it. In season two, she arrives in Qarth, completely broken, and she is initially won over by the Qartheen style – this beautiful, revealing, turquoise dress…but then realizes it’s not quite right. It’s not her. So she starts wearing this gold corset over her Dothraki costume, then eventually a leather corset over a Qartheen man’s top, blending the two cultures and creating her own style.

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Hair

http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/3/ http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/5/ http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/9/

http://fashionista.com/2013/06/game-of-thrones-hair-designer-answers-all-our-pressing-questions/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d91UPMvYZU Northern women are focused on practicality, and thus wear their hair long to retain heat. They wouldn’t have an upswept hairdo the way Margaery Tyrell of the Reach does, their ears would get cold. Cersei is all about appearances: on formal public occasions she makes it a point to have her hair elaborately styled, but in “private” she wears her hair down, because she doesn’t really care – in contrast, Margaery always has her hair maintained to a certain degree – not as formal, but she still cares. Basically, Cersei will have her hair styled for a ceremony in the throneroom but has reached the point where she doesn’t care how the Small Council or Sansa Stark see her hair. In contrast, Margaery has her hair braided a little even when she’s just in the gardens – not to a hyper-formal degree. Points out that Cersei’s public face and private face are polar opposites; the Tyrells not as much.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d91UPMvYZU Daenerys starts out with her hair simple and down, but she gradually picks up braiding from the Dothraki, and retains these elaborate braids in Season 2 and beyond.

A distinct lack of helmets: http://fashionista.com/2012/06/game-of-thrones-hair-and-wardrobe-secrets-revealed/10/ Logically, shouldn’t Night’s Watch characters be wearing hats in sub-arctic temperatures?! They at least try to put them on the background extras, apparently using the token excuse that the commanders need to see what’s around them.

References

  1. "A Man Without Honor" HBO featurette

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