Game of Threads: Stormborn

Daenerys and Melisandre

by Hogan McLaughlin

I was concerned that as the Game of Thrones season progressed, there might not be much to keep pulling from as the battles begin to rage. Game of Thrones has always used costuming tactically but gone are the days of Margaery Tyrell’s backless gowns and Cersei’s Lannister-red robes. As I mentioned last week, everyone is in battle-mode so they’ve found a look that effectively works for them and are sticking to it. However, while “Stormborn” doesn’t provide many new and exciting costumes, it does give us some insight into the minds of the characters and why their tactics are evident in their clothing.

We open the episode at Dragonstone and it is obvious that this is the same day that Daenerys & Co. arrived because they are all wearing the same garments from the previous episode.  Still, it is a happy coincidence that Dany is still wearing one of her more elaborately decorated outfits because she is asked for an audience right away.  Melisandre enters in her usual red travel robes.  Quickly it becomes obvious that Dany doesn’t need to prove anything to her, by way of heraldry and costume.

Cersei on the throne Stormborn

Cersei Qyburn Stormborn

Cersei, however, still feels the need to exact power over her courtly guests.  She addresses Randyll Tarly and the other Lords of the Reach in her same coronation outfit because they weren’t there to bear witness to it the first time, and also because she knows that Randyll won’t be wowed by the heavy embellishments of the neckpiece she received Euron in.  Euron likes ostentatious dress so he was no doubt taken with the theatrics.  Randyll is a military man, so Cersei dresses the part.  She’s in the same Tywin-inspired battle gown to exact her power, and tops it off with her military shoulder armor.  She looks the part of both royal queen and army commander.  Interestingly, the underdress is the same as the one she wore in the previous episode while speaking with Jaime, but she feels able to rid herself of the armor with him.  Partly because she loves and trusts him, partly because she knows he fears her regardless of what she’s wearing.  While in the dungeons with Qyburn, she removes her crown but keeps her shoulder armor, signaling that she still needs to keep her trusted advisors as arm’s length.

702 - Dragonstone - Daenerys, Tyrion, Yara, Ellaria 1

Daenerys 1

Dany, again, takes a subtler approach with her advisors.  During the war council, she wears the same silhouette of her “homecoming” dress, but the embroidery and beading are gone and replaced with a scale-like textile and a silver dragon pin.  These women have come to talk strategy.  They have already pledged their support to the Targaryen cause so formalities by way of clothing are unnecessary.


Olenna wears a very stripped-down version of her signature look.  She will be in mourning for however long she lives and is now beyond the pretense of wearing golden roses, exaggerated shoulders, and any color at all in her gowns.

Ellaria costume

Ellaria is wearing what is considered to be the masculine Dornish costume.  Her coat is the same shape as Oberyn’s in Season 4, as well as every male in court at Sunspear in Season 5, but her signature pointed shoulders are implemented.  She has entered the fold for vengeance for Oberyn so, in turn, she is dressing like him.  Interestingly, the dominant colors in the brocade are blues and mauves, which were the colors we mostly saw Prince Doran wearing when he was ruling.  Ellaria now has control over the region so she is also dressing like their prince.

Yara costume

Yara is wearing her same armored out-of-battle clothing that we’ve come to expect from her.

Euron Obara Stormborn

While the Dornish fleet sails home, the company is attacked by Euron.  No one has time to change into full armor so the Sand Snakes rush to put their breastplates over their coats that they are already wearing.  Like their mother, they had been taking the full masculine look in place of the embroidered organza gowns we saw them all (save for Obara) in before they murdered Doran.

Euron armorEuron’s armor is surprisingly restrained when compared to how he presented himself to Cersei in the last episode.  Perhaps it’s the way the scene was shot but the color registers as a much deeper black than any other character’s black costume.  Not surprising, as he is in full villain mode.

Yara Theon Stormborn

In a final heartbreaking costuming choice, Theon and Yara are dressed almost identically to show unity, until Theon’s tragic past comes back to haunt him.

A Few Stray Thoughts

Dany Missandei


Missandei, Grey Worm, and Tyrion are all wearing outfits that directly echo Dany’s new silhouette.  Additionally, the Unsullied armor and Dany’s clothing are unified though the shoulder treatment.

Helen Sloan - HBO (Photo 6) (1)

It’s uncanny how much Arya is dressed to look like her father.

Dickon and Randyll Tarly

The difference between what the Tarlys wear to court and what their lords, the Tyrells, wore is like night and day.  Randyll sees zero need for finery.

Littlefinger Stormborn

With everyone around him wearing big, fur-trimmed cloaks for practical purposes, Littlefinger still insists on wearing his signature look, even if it is lined for the cold.

Hogan McLaughlin is an American fashion designer, artist, and dancer.  He began his professional career as a ballet dancer, performing with the internationally acclaimed Hubbard Street 2 and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.  In 2011, he met and collaborated with artist Daphne Guinness on his first garments, which ended up on display in the windows of Barneys New York Madison Avenue, and at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Later that year, McLaughlin launched his first collection under his name, and was subsequently profiled by The New York Times, WWD,, among other publications, and had the opportunity to create custom looks for a number of high profile clients including Lady Gaga.  As an illustrator, he has had the pleasure of creating promotional images for HBO’s Game of Thrones in multiple seasons of the DVD “Histories and Lore” features, as well as images for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, and History Channel’s Vikings.


  1. I can’t wait for Arya to get a new outfit. That ratty cloak she’s currently sporting makes her still look like a peasant… or a Frey, sardonically. 😛

  2. Wonderful to read! Thank you. Also, I think, after pledging himself to Dany, Varys has a new robe to. Lined with fur.

  3. With everyone around him wearing big, fur-trimmed cloaks for practical purposes, Littlefinger still insists on wearing his signature look, even if it is lined for the cold.

    Hadn’t noticed the sartorial metaphor for LF’s cold-blooded nature. Good catch (among several), Hogan.

  4. I like the insights you had into Elaria’s costume, even if I absolutely loooathe her. :p

  5. I like that Randyll Tarly was given more dimension than I expected.
    Tho I thought he would bring up the Sept of Baelor deal more explicitly and strongly than he did.
    In fact the crown only has like 2 or is it 3 bannermen?
    I am glad they got James Faulkner for this role , alas he does not get as much exposure at Charles Dance, he is good.

  6. The sea battle scene is too dark for me to tell, but can anyone comment on the differences between how the Yara Ironborn are dressed differently than the Euron Ironborn? Basically, how can they tell each other apart? Usually it is by uniform or clothing. Euron clearly stands out in his costume but how about the others? Is it leather vs cloth? Sorry, I’m rambling but that fight was so “close quarters” and dark how did they know who to fight?

  7. I love love love Ellaria’s coat/gown! Me want!

    All in all, I’ve liked Dornish fashions, apart from those awful gauzy Disney princess dresses from S5.

    I’m trying to think what Randyll Tarly was wearing in S6 in the fa,ily dinner scene… But I like it that his court costume is no-nonsense, very sparse and military. Contrast that with Mace’s famous feather plumes and brocades! lol!

    One of the most moving and emotional scenes of this episodes finished with NO COSTUMES at all. OK, the disrobing was an important part of that scene, especially Grey Worm’s hesitation when Missandei tried to go for the breeches. Oh, and it amazes me how easily they undid the lacing, lol!

    Oh, and Missandei’s day costume seems to me to have a lot of Unsullied echoes.

  8. onefromaway,

    Well, Yara etc. would probably know all her crew/fighters by sight… But yeah, I found following the fight quite confusing but that was probably intentional, to show us what a confusing mess such a close-quarters fight is. I’ve only watched the episode twice and didn’t notice much costume detail!

  9. talvikorppi,

    You’re right, they probably did that intentionally to add to the feeling of intense chaos. Yet another way costume contributes. Thanks!

  10. I have near zero fashion sense so it could be just me? But the drape (I have no idea what the right term is) over Tarly’s shoulder instantly reminded me of the Dany pics. I think hers is actually the fastening of a cape (?) and his is probably something completely different (I haven’t gone back to pics or video to look), but still it stuck out to me. Probably just a common thing everywhere but coincidentally similar color in this case? This from someone who would never have consciously noted on my own that Ellaria’s costume is like the men of Dorne, Cersei’s look reminiscent of Tywin, etc (all obvious now that it’s pointed out)…so probably if I do see something it’s not there 😂
    Anyway thanks for this and many other articles here which make me notice and appreciate things – music, costumes, other aspects of production – in new ways.

  11. talvikorppi:
    I’m trying to think what Randyll Tarly was wearing in S6 in the fa,ily dinner scene… But I like it that his court costume is no-nonsense, very sparse and military. Contrast that with Mace’s famous feather plumes and brocades! lol!

    Randyll: Worn over a black long-sleeve shirt with a high neck, he had a thick brown leather vest adorned with a metal chest plate depicting House Tarly’s sigil…

    Mace was a human peacock! 😀

  12. Dead Dane Walking,

    Ah, thank you, Dead Dane. So quite military. Leather, metal, house sigil etc.

    Talking about house sigils… GRRM often goes into some detail to describe the embroidery on each and every lord’s, knight’s and even common man-at-arms’s surcotes (outer tunics).

    This would not work on a modern TV show. They’d all just look like stupid jocks wearing team jerseys. That’s why I think Michelle Clapton’s subtlety in incorporating house sigils or hints thereof, while keeping the costumes fairly “real”, is such genius.

  13. Of the old gods,

    Well, a drape over one shoulder, ginched at the waist by a belt seems to be ordinary Westerosi men’s fashion. Joffrey wore such S2 to S4.

    I think it’s notable that while the “father”, King Robert, wore basically hunting leathers jazzed up in brocade, his “son” Joffrey fully embraced high fashion. Who could ever forget the S3 scene when Cersei tries to manipulate him but he’s more interested in his sartorial elegance and putting mum into place. The tailor comes with new swatches and Joff, self-satisfied, looks into the mirror and nods, “Yes. Much better.”

    So never tell me costumes, costume changes aren’t important.

  14. The red woman was a welcome sight as she brings a little color among all the grey and black scheme.

  15. I agree, Littlefinger’s tailored and simple look (with fur lining) is a way he keeps his identity, but in such a cold climate not using the fur cloaks the Northerners use seems like another way he is setting himself apart from them as well as above them. Littlefinger, with his southern mentality and own arrogance, looks down on the Northerners and probably would not be caught dead in a big fur cloak, no matter how cold he was!

    I like the embroidery on Olenna’s hat/head piece. Elegant even in mourning.

    The pin Randyll Tarley is wearing on his shoulder to hold the sash, an archer ( I think), is that the Tarley sigil? Yea, the simplicity of his costume supports the toughness of James Faulkner’s portrayal of Randayll – all business and no fluff! Can you imagine Faulkner dressed in Mace’s costume?

    Good post, I look forward to these, thanks!

  16. LatrineDiggerBrian:

    I miss Mace.

    Haha 😀 I miss the Tyrells all together – Margaery’s cunning understanding of the game in particular, to counter that bitch Cersei in KL!!! I could do without Mace’s “stellar” singing talent though! 😉

  17. Just wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed this new feature of WotW; I just started a new job and have barely had time to check in and comment, but costuming is one of the many, many aspects of the show that fascinates me. Thank you so much for your insight!

    On that note… As much as I love to hate him (as do millions of other people!), I do love Littlefinger’s fashion sense. 🙂

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