A Game of Clothes

A sartorial examination of the differences between the first season of Game of Thrones, and the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series

Confession that will shock absolutely nobody that knows me: I am a huge fantasy nerd. When I heard four and a half years ago that HBO was adapting George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, I became so excited about the idea of a weekly cable fantasy show, despite never having actually read the books. I tracked down the first four titles in the series, finishing them in record time to become well-versed enough in this fictional universe by the time the pilot episode of Game of Thrones premiered.

When turning x-thousand pages of text into a TV show, there are going to be some changes. Having had these books occupy my headspace before the show aired, I had very clear ideas of how things should look—specifically, the clothes. Martin describes a lot of elaborate doublets and gowns covered in jewels, which brought to my mind Elizabethan fashions. The show’s costume designer Michele Clapton made a conscious decision to mix influences and silhouettes in way that didn’t exist in the books. The showrunners wanted to make a world that was rooted in reality, so different eras were combined in such a way as to create something completely unique. But it wasn’t enough for me to just watch these costumes on the screen—oh, no. As an obsessed fan that loves overanalyzing clothes, I had to pull out my books and figure out what a few differences in costume choices can mean for these characters.


“They dressed [Danaerys] in the wisps that Magister Ilyrio had brought up, and then the gown, a deep plum silk to bring out the violet in her eyes. The girls slid the gilded sandals onto her feet, while the old woman fixed a tiara in her hair, and slid golden bracelets encrusted with amethysts on her wrists. Last of all came the collar, a heavy golden torc emblazoned with ancient Vallyrian glyphs.”

Martin’s costume descriptions are typically pretty brief, so an outsider to the fandom would be forgiven for assuming he isn’t a stickler to detail. (They would be proven wrong by his extensive depictions of meals alone—squirrel stew, anyone?). One thing he does manage to include, however, is references to jewels. Most of these are absent in the TV version, probably because the show spent all their budget on weapons and fake bloods, leaving little for realistic looking baubles. (Seriously, whoever had stock in Fake Blood Enterprises Inc. would be loaded off this show alone.) With little to go on regarding the silhouette, Clapton went with a style she called “Grecian,” evident by the cut and draping. I’m mostly impressed that she was able to find a way to make a dress out of wisps. While plum it ain’t, Danaerys looks like she could float away in a fog.


“Sansa was dressed beautifully that day, in a green gown that brought out the auburn of her hair, and she knew they were looking at her and smiling.”

Sansa wears this dress for most of the show’s first season. The coarseness of the fabric and details on the neck tend to be typical dress of the North of the Westeros (where she is from) compared to the South (the new home to which she is trying to adapt). Her season one wardrobe is, to me, a huge missed opportunity—Sansa is one of the few characters who cares about her clothes a lot, so her lack of costume changes, especially during major events, probably wouldn’t fly with the character. A High Lord’s daughter would absolutely have the money to get a few new fancy duds. In other words: way to cheat us out of some costume porn, TV show.

You’ll notice that Sansa’s sister Arya is also wearing her casual dress, pretty much the only dress she ever wears in the show beyond the pilot. Arya’s clothing is rarely described in the first book, as she’s usually dirty and dressed like a boy. Yet in this dress, her neck detailing is messier and more haphazard than her sister’s, and she has cut off her dress’s elaborate dagged sleeves, making it easier to run around and wield a sword. The girl’s priorities are clear.


“[Ser Loras’s] plate was intricately fashioned and enameled as a bouquet of a thousand different flowers, and his snow-white stallion was draped in a blanket of red and white roses. After each victory, Ser Loras would remove his helm and ride slowly around the fence, and finally pluck a single white rose from his blanket and toss it to some fair maid in the crowd.”

This interpretation was not what I was expecting, though I say that not as a criticism. The flower motifs are still there, but they’re way more elaborate than I had imagined, especially that helmet. When I watched this episode, I had to know: did real knights wear armour this elaborate and crazy for tournaments? Research tells me that yep, they absolutely did.

“The queen wore a high collared black silk gown, with a hundred red rubies sewn into her bodice, covering her from neck to bosom. They were cut in the shape of teardrops, as if the queen were weeping blood.”

The show made a conscious decision not to have black be the colour of mourning in Westeros, despite it being so in the books. My theory is that they didn’t want to confuse viewers with the Night’s Watch, a military order that are only allowed to wear black. Sadly, the viewer got cheated out of seeing bloody teardrop rubies (which, not to be morbid, but DREAM FUNERAL ATTIRE).

Clapton has described Cersei’s gowns as kimono-inspired, with a medieval cut, creating a sartorial fusion unique to this character. She is usually the only one who has her sleeves slashed in a way so that her arms are visible. The necklace here is interesting, because it’s almost a Jazz Age-inspired piece, and wouldn’t look out of place on a flapper.


“By the time he was dressed, his squire had laid out his armour, such that it was. Tyrion owned a fine suit of heavy plate, expertly crafted to fit his misshapen body. Alas, it was safe at Casterly Rock, and he was not. He had to make do with some oddments from Lord Lefford’s wagons: mail hauberk and coif, a dead knight’s gorget, lobstered greaves and gauntlets and pointed steel boots. Some of it was ornate, some plain; not a bit of it matched, or fit as it should. His breastplate was meant for a bigger man; for his oversize head, they found a huge bucket-shaped greathelm topped with a foot long triangular spike.”

It doesn’t really make sense that Tywin Lannister would have had Tyrion’s suit of armour with him on the battlefield, since he had no way to know that Tyrion was going to meet him there, and that Tyrion would actually be forced to fight in any battles, but I’m willing to suspend my belief a little bit there. (Even though come on. Am I the only one paying attention?) My guess is that they couldn’t find a way to make realistic, obviously mismatching armour work in a way that wouldn’t suck for the actor to wear. Let’s just pretend that Tywin Lannister was a Boy Scout back in his younger days and taught to “always be prepared,” keeping a spare suit of armour in his travel bag.

“Lord Eddard stood on the High Septon’s pulpit outside the doors of the sept, supported between two of the gold cloaks. He was dressed in a rich grey velvet doublet with a white wolf sewn in the front in beads, and a grey wool cloak trimmed with fur, but he was thinner than Arya had ever seen him before…Clustered around the doors of the sept, in front of the raised marble pulpit, were a knot of knights and high lords. Joffrey was prominent among them, his raiment all crimson, silk and satin patterned with dancing stags and roaring lions, a gold crown on his head. His queen mother stood beside him in a black mourning gown slashed with crimson, a veil of black diamonds in her hair…”

They don’t bother dressing Ned Stark in any finery in the show; this outfit is the one he gets arrested in. What Joffrey is wearing interests me more. What the TV adaptation lacks in coat-stags, it makes up for in his cloak/doublet hybrid. The costume designers finally throw us a bone, as Cersei is also wearing what I like to call her “I’m a Lannister, bitches” dress.

Sansa is in her southern gown. The silk is finer than her other dress, and the wrap style cut with the huge dagged sleeves is one that is only seen in south of The Neck or in King’s Landing. Her hair is also now worn in the southern style, which is reminiscent of Roman hairstyles. However, unlike other instances when she wears this dress, they have added a metal belt to the ensemble. Metal belts tend to be worn by Cersei (she also has one here). Clapton has said she likes to put her in them because they remind her of armour.

“Dany braised [Khal Drogo’s] hair and slid the silver rings onto his mustache and hung his bells one by one. So many bells, gold and silver and bronze. Bells so his enemies would hear him coming and grow weak with fear. She dressed him in horsehair leggings and high boots, buckling a belt heavy with gold and silver medallions about his waist. Over his scarred chest she slipped a painted vest, old and faded, the one Drogo had loved best. For herself she chose loose sandsilk trousers, sandals that laced halfway up her legs, and a vest like Drogo’s.”

Dany dresses in the Dothraki style in the books to show solidarity with her dead husband—they’re a matching pair. In the show, she’s dressed in another Grecian-inspired gown similar to the one that she wears on her wedding day, which brings us full circle. Her choice of a gown also makes her look more like a queen, and less like a Khaleesi (the title referring to the wife of the khal, which is—oh, go watch the show already). But what I find most compelling is the way her dress evokes Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” in the closing shot, with Danaerys naked in the ashes of the pyre and the dragons hanging in strategic places. It’s a lovely visual treat that reminds the viewers that sometimes watching a filmed adaptation can be worth it. Even if there is a sorry lack of rubies.

illustration // Emily Taylor

The Motherloads

Everything we know about fashion, we learned from our TV mothers

Television opponents like to accuse parents of letting the boob tube raise their children. I gotta say—what’s wrong with that? For decades now, TV has been home to some effective mothers, from the lax and laid back to the strict and tough, with the wardrobes to match.

In deciding to profile some of the most stylish TV moms, we didn’t, of course, imagine this to be a comprehensive list—just a picking of some of our staff’s particular favourites. Want to gush about Jane Jetson or Peggy Bundy? Tell us in the comments. But first, sit down, read what we have to say, and don’t forget to eat your vegetables.

1 > Roseanne Conner from Roseanne (1988-1997)
Although comedian Roseanne Barr succeeded in turning her “Domestic Goddess” standup routine into a half-hour sitcom, the look of her character on Roseanne was anything but divine. Sweaters, simple button-downs and jeans made up Roseanne Conner’s wardrobe—that is when she wasn’t wearing her retro-kitsch waitress uniform.

The costumes were a way for the show to reflect the everyday authenticity of Lanford, Illinois. Roseanne battled with the wardrobe master over pricey clothes which made her “look like a show pony rather than a working-class mom.” As she wrote in New York Magazine, “I wanted vintage plaid shirts, t-shirts, and jeans, not purple stretch pants with green-and-blue smocks.”

The wardrobe master admitted that head office instructed her to ignore what the star wanted to wear because they did not approve of how Roseanne was portraying the character (despite the fact that the character was obviously based on herself). While not a trendsetter, Roseanne deserves credit for sticking to her guns and bringing some realness to ‘Must See TV.’ WORN celebrates Roseanne for wearing what she wanted, even if we never found out what the deal was with that ubiquitous chicken shirt. // Max Mosher


2 > Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show (1984-1992)
As a kid (and, okay, kind of recently) we’ve spent many a sick day watching re-runs of The Cosby Show and wondering how one family could be so sartorially spot-on. Mr. Huxtable had his iconic sweaters, and Denise—well, Denise’s style was clearly not dreamt up by mere mortals. But the one family member who is most deserving of our nail art-embellished and bracelet-jangling applause is Mama Huxtable (Phylicia Rashād) herself—er, let’s just call her Clair.

Clair was a hard-ass, capital ‘M’ Mom (and lawyer) who could make you clean your room whether you liked it or not—and she’d wear a pile of jewels and a brightly coloured onesie while she did it. Then she would throw a matching apron over top and whip up a roast dinner without scuffing even one of her immaculately manicured nails. Even when she was working in the garden, Mama Hux was put together; she pulled weeds with style in oversized dungarees, a plaid shirt with rolled-up sleeves, and a straw hat.

It’s impossible to pick a favourite of Clair’s outfits, but a recurring look she owned and we’ve always envied was the oversized blouse and skinny trouser combo; there were usually shoulder-pads involved, and there was always a carefully selected set of jewelry on top, with the occasional belt to pull it all together. Mrs. Huxtable’s knack for style is simply undeniable. // Stephanie Fereiro


3 > Vivian Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)
Two actresses may have played Aunt Viv in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but it was the original who was the most memorable. Janet Hubert played matriarch of the mansion from seasons one to three. She was spunky, stylish, and a rare sight as one of the few dark-skinned, black women on TV.

Will Smith’s dayglo tanks were no match for original Aunt Viv who stole scenes with her classy, luxurious style. The sitcom mom was rarely seen without a piece of gold jewelry. She wore suits that were masterfully tailored and jumpsuits that cinched at the waist. Her nails were always manicured, her hair always full. Even when she was cuddling in bed with Uncle Phil (that’s her husband, Will’s uncle), the woman always looked beautiful. Producers eventually fired Hubert over contract riffs, replacing her with Daphne Reed from seasons four onward. And Aunt Viv was never the same. Her wardrobe wasn’t as fly, she wasn’t as forthright, and she probably couldn’t pull off this dance in a pink unitard. // Mai Nguyen

4 > Morticia Addams from The Addams Family (1964-1966)
Morticia Addams is the spooky mama of the Addams Family; played by Carolyn Jones in the ’60s sitcom that paired creepy, gothic sensibilities with a sense of humour. Morticia (the Frenchies amongst you will recognize the word “mort” means “death”) is the ultimate domestic housewife with a demented twist. Her dark yet refined look was a fixture of the show, and she is considered a style icon for classy goths both inside and out of the fashion world.

Morticia was never seen without her cascade of sleek, black hair, cat-eye make-up and clingy, floor-length black gown. She ruled her household with cool (yet perfectly manicured) hand, in contrast to her excitable husband Gomez, who could barely contain his sexual attraction to her. Morticia’s trademark style oozed glamour, and was somewhere between a silent movie star and a grim funeral-goer. // Isabel Slone

5 > Florida Evans from Good Times (1974-1979)
Florida Evans, played by actress Esther Rolle, was the lead character and fiery mother of three in Good Times. The series followed the Evans family and their lives spent in a housing project in a poor, inner-city Chicago neighbourhood. While working class families had been shown on television before, depicting the lives of black characters living in such impoverished conditions was a breakthrough in the genre.

So what’s a ’70s housewife in the projects to wear? Polyester, and lots of it. Florida’s outfits may have been tame compared to the funky wardrobes of her children, but she still had mad style. Her most memorable looks had her dressed in head to toe orange—just as fresh and bright as the fruit. Though this might be a clever comment about the state that Florida shares her name with, perhaps the choice was just a compliment to the autumn hues of the Evans’ ’70s living room. Dressed for a wedding in her “JC Penney Original”—a vibrant orange dress complete with matching bakelite necklace—Florida declares that her outfit for this uptown occasion is a little tight downtown. Like a good mother should—ain’t we lucky we got em!—Florida speaks the truth. // Jenna Danchuk

6 > Marge Simpson from The Simpsons (1989-present)
Marge Simpson has become so ingrained in pop culture as one fifth of the most iconic animated family, her style has become taken for granted. Sure, one could argue that she’s meant to represent the typical housewife (though what does that mean, really?) but quick—how many small town stay-at-home moms do you know who rock a green strapless dress, orange pearls, and a bright blue Bride of Frankenstein-style beehive? A mother of three, she understands the value of clothes to the extent that she can stop a counterfeit jean ring operating out of her car hole by recognizing their faulty stitching.

Marge is never more conscious of clothing than in the episode “Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield.” After rationalizing the purchase of a dramatically discounted Chanel suit (“It’ll be good for the economy”) she gets invited to a country club inhabited by Springfield’s elite. Marge desperately wants to be accepted by this new crowd, for whom living on a budget and meatloaf do not exist. It’s a world that the always resourceful Marge doesn’t understand, but nonetheless runs her sewing machine ragged trying to get the maximum mileage out of her Chanel suit. Eventually she learns that clothes are just textiles, capable of getting destroyed with the wrong amount of pressure on her sewing machine pedal, and that while they reveal a lot, they can never truly compensate for one’s values. Plus, let’s be real—her hairdo is way more chic than anything the women at the country club were sporting. // Anna Fitzpatrick

7 > Betty Draper from Mad Men (2007-present)
Ice-cold blue eyes shoot daggers through cat-eyed sunglasses, while fitted waists and full skirts cause children (even her own) to run in the other direction. January Jones as Betty Draper, or Francis rather—if we are able to picture her outside the golden era of her and Don and that blue velveteen headboard—is the ultimate in ’50s housewife style. If Grace Kelly put on an apron and went to therapy, she would be Betty. Never a blonde strand out of place or a smudged rouge pout—even while in a nighty, shooting the neighbour’s pesky pigeons.

To the world outside her suburban windows she is perfect. Her anxiety cramped hands hide in white day gloves, and as an audience we rarely see her looking dishevelled. Even sulking in polka dotted chiffon, she still manages to look way more put together than I would after a marathon Kleenex fest. For the most part, however, Betty’s costume is just that. A suit of tafetta armour, protecting the ideal she upholds.

And while the fashion thirsty Mad Men watchers in the past few seasons may have—like Don—found a new muse that’s more their cup of Scotch (cough, Megan), I would urge you not to overlook some of Betty’s sartorial adventures that prove she’s not just a cookie cutter gingham clad housewife. Remember when she recalled the story of being a muse to an Italian designer and pulled out that racy silk romper from the back of her closet? Or the time she bought that yellow bikini from the auction and confronted Don about wearing it outside (Hi, Feminism!…That is until he shamed her out of wearing it by saying she looked ‘cheap’—not cool, Draper). And, ummm, hello, this hair!? // Casie Brown

8 > Jo McGuire from Lizzie McGuire (2001-2004)
Lizzie McGuire was always one of the coolest 13-year-olds who managed to rock some the most flamboyant outfits the Disney Channel ever did see (your move, Hannah Montana). Her mom, Jo McGuire, on the other hand, was much plainer and often deemed by Lizzie as uncool. And yet, Mrs. McGuire was awesome—her look was former-hippie-turned-soccer-mom, who although plain, never lost her quirky flair. Jo’s hair was always in a simple yet complex up-do that even sometimes supported bright bandanas intricately laced. She also seemed to have a cardigan in every colour imaginable, and wore poignant thick rimmed glasses before they were the hip, go-to accessory. Still, what especially put Jo McGuire within the high ranks of super cool moms was the fact that she took Lizzie bra shopping with an enthusiasm and active motherly support that isn’t so common on television. She helped send a body-positive message to young girls wherein lingerie was seen as a part of growing up and womanly empowerment instead of a tool for male seduction with voyeuristic connotations too often seen in teenage dramas. // Paulina Kulacz

image compilation // Zoe Vos

I’ve Got Somethin’ To Say!

Jerri Blank is a fashion plate extraordinaire

“I was a user, loser and a boozer…” And so begins Strangers With Candy, the raunchy, satirical post-modern twist on after school specials. It’s like if Degrassi took place in The Twilight Zone; an anywhere-USA alternate universe where issues like teen pregnancy are dealt with in health class by students being given a real baby to care for for a week.

Inspired by a very real PSA from the ’60s called “The Trip Back,” creators Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, and Amy Sedaris crafted a brightly-hued psycho sitcom universe around the bawdy, incorrigible Jerri Blank. The show follows Jerri, who is just another 46 year old, ex-junkie whore trying to get through high school.

Let me explain.

Blank was a teenage runaway and is picking up right where she left off: Grade 9. The brilliance of the show is that everyone treats her like another high-school student despite the crows feet and love handles. The rest of the cast includes her revisionist history teacher Mr. Noblet (Stephen Colbert), her flaky-hack of an art teacher Mr. Jellineck (Paul Dinello), her megalomaniac principal Onyx Blackman (Gregory Holliman), her evil stepmother, her brutish half-brother, and the revolving denizens of Flatpoint High.

Flatpoint is like a twisted fun-house version of Archie Comics’ Riverdale. The highschool is cartoonishly bright with immersive set dressing that can only ber appreciated through multiple viewings. Every classroom is dressed to the nines with “student work,” hand-drawn club posters and the omnipresent image of Principal Blackman.

It’s Jerri’s closet, however, that steals the show. For those who know Sedaris as Carrie Bradshaw’s publisher on Sex in the City, or from her recent career turn into hospitality and crafting, it’s a little jarring to see the petite blonde who is usually decked out in vintage party-dresses transform into her junkie ex-con alter ego with such ease. With a seemingly endless supply of synthetic knits, turtlenecks, mom jeans, garish animal prints, spandex, rhinestones, and leather in all its possible iterations, veteran costumer Vicki Farrell crafted thrift shop nightmares for Jerri to wreak havoc in episode after episode. She even created sagging “bosoms” out of sweet potatoes for Sedaris to wear under a swim suit in one scene. Sedaris mentions in the DVD commentary that she [Vicki] was “always putting little things on me…she hid little animals and things that the audience couldn’t see. But it was so important for her,” and its this detailed work that makes Jerri’s world that much more grounded despite her ineptitude as a human being.

Squirrel print blouses, unseemly camel-toes, and occasional cult robes aside, Sedaris also wore a custom fat-suit she had made in real life (any fan of her brother’s work has likely heard the story). Her wigs add the final punch in Jerri’s ex-con chic, as they evolve over the three seasons to eventually “defy gravity” in the third, as noted by Colbert in the DVD commentary.

Strangers With Candy sometimes feels like it could be a companion piece to John Waters’s work; it’s brash, it’s campy, and it’s hilarious. But at the show’s heart, it’s about someone trying to do the right thing—just in the worst way possible.

text //Cayley James

Twin Peaks Style, Part 3: This Cherry Pie is a Miracle

[Editor's note: WARNING! The following blog post contains many a spoiler concerning the events in our favourite fictional Pacific Northwest town. Read at your own risk. - Anna]

When I first started writing these Twin Peaks Style posts, I thought I’d have a fairly easy time choosing which characters to look at and how to look at them. First I wrote about the way Audrey Horne and Josie Packard use clothing in attempts to hide their true colours, in turn revealing more about themselves than they could have ever imagined. Then I looked at how Special Agent Dale Cooper‘s wardrobe represents his fear of the past and his attachment to the town of Twin Peaks. But now what?

It seems only natural that for my third and final post in this series, I should study another character — maybe Donna Hayward or Lucy Moran — but I just can’t do it. This series (much like Twin Peaks itself) can’t go on forever, and there are so many characters whose unique and complex wardrobes I’d kick myself for leaving out. So, on that note, I’m leaving you with a round-up of sorts. I’ll miss obsessing over these images and outfits just like I miss standing up and turning on all the lights in the house after each gut-wrenching episode. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

LUCY MORAN: THAT’S MOR-AN, NOT MORON

“All men in the world should be taken to a desert island and forced to eat sand!”

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