I know that Game of Thrones is fantasy and nothing like the real world, but I love it and I thought it’d be pretty cool to see what the characters would’ve worn if they were real. The timeline is not the same as real life, obviously, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to align it with our actual timeline. So, in the Game of Thrones universe dates are set into BC and AC, we’re BC and AD. BC standing for before conquest, and AC for, you guessed it, after conquest. Let’s just imagine that it’s AD, shall we? Good. Clothes during the early centuries AD changed very gradually, so from research I can make some pretty good guesses at what people during the 4th Century would’ve actually worn. Remember, I’m learning too, so I’m not an expert.
For a bit of background, Aegon the Conqueror was the first king of the Targaryen dynasty who unified six of the seven kingdoms of Westeros during the War of Conquest, hence BC – before conquest and AC – after conquest. Obviously, Game of Thrones is set in AC (AD). The first episode of Game of Thrones is set in the year 298, and the last in 305.
We know that Game of Thrones is not known for fashion accuracy because the costumes are inspired by a number of eras. Considering it’s a fantasy, the costumes don’t need to be accurate at all. But I thought it’d be fun to figure out.
Let’s start with the men’s costumes. There are plenty of men in the show and near enough all of them wear different costumes depending on where their character resides. For example, the men in Dorne dress exceedingly different from the men in Winterfell. It wouldn’t make sense for them to wear the same thing considering the climate. Because of this difference, and really my lack of knowledge on how men would’ve dressed in Dorne’s climate, I’m going to be looking at the royal and military men.
The men’s clothing isn’t too bad really. Jon Snow, a military man, has a pretty accurate outfit, it’s not perfect though. He’s not a knight, but he still wears a form of armour. It may not be the plated or chain armour we’re used to seeing, but his leather and quilted fabric armour was absolutely used. On the other end, you have men like The Hound, who is a knight and is often seen sporting plated and chain armour. Chain armour wasn’t used by knights until the 9th Century, so it’s likely that he wouldn’t have looked too different to Jon Snow on the battlefield.
If you weren’t a military man or knight, tunics were what you would’ve worn on a day-to-day basis. If you weren’t part of the elite, your clothing would have been homemade and very simply cut, so don’t expect anything too exciting, maybe an aline shape tunic if you’re feeling fancy.
Jaime Lannister wore a full plated armour on the battlefield which wouldn’t have been worn. Plated armour was a progression from chain armour and wasn’t really used until one thousand years after Game of Thrones was (kind of) set. Again, Jaime would’ve worn leather and thick quilted fabric as protection. I know it doesn’t sound like that would be enough, but it actually provided pretty good protection against weapons. Although, when Jaime isn’t in his armour we only ever really see him in leather, which is what he would’ve worn under his armour.
Moving on to the women; just like the men, I won’t be including the women from Dorne. Let’s start with Daenerys. Yes her gowns were beautiful, but they were mostly inaccurate. That flowing, midriff showing dress she wears in Meereen, absolutely not. Her outfits certainly have aspects of accuracy, only small bits though. She is a funny one though because she isn’t your average queen. Daenerys certainly doesn’t just sit around and rule, oh no, she gets right in the middle of it all. Her costumes are definitely adapted for her as they’re reasonably masculine. Her clothes give her the ability to ride dragons and horses, to fight (not that she really does), but also still make her look like she’s the boss. The shape of her clothes is very tunic-like, although a little fancier and fitted, like a gown. She incorporates a mixture of feminine and masculine style in her look. I would consider Daenerys the exception so I guess we’ll let her off.
Sansa, my queen, goes through waves of maybe getting away with her clothes being accurate to a certain degree. When Sansa first arrives in King’s Landing and is clearly very influenced by Cersei, she opts for lighter gowns with very large sleeves which were reasonably accurate. Gowns in the 4th Century would have been made of silk, muslin, cotton and wool. Sansa was in with the royals so would have been able to take advantage of their elite clothing. After she left King’s Landing with Littlefinger and becomes ‘Alayne’ her dress decreases in accuracy. Although she looks gorgeous, that tight-fitting, low cut gown is not it girl. I would say that the most accurate women’s outfit in the whole show is Sansa’s ‘Battle of the Bastards’ dress. From what we can see, she is wearing a beautiful blue/green velvet dress that has her house symbol, the dire wolf, embellished on to her chest. I wish we got to see more of her in that gown.
Just like Sansa, Cersei also has aspects of accuracy within her gowns, particularly her earlier costumes. She does love an off the shoulder look though, which I wouldn’t consider all too accurate, although I have seen a couple examples of art which feature off the shoulder gowns just not to Cersei’s extreme. Cersei’s dresses have an overall silhouette that is pretty close to how gowns would’ve looked in the 4th Century. The loose dresses with long, flowing sleeves is great, except women’s dresses were typically a double tunic style which basically is just a shorter tunic worn over a longer tunic. After her ‘shame’ ordeal, her character progresses, along with her outfits. The accuracy slips a little as Cersei starts to wear tight-fitting gowns with almost armour-like details.
One thing that all of the women get wrong, fashion-wise, is that none of them wear things to cover their heads and hair. Their hair would have most likely been covered during this time by veils. Art from this time often depicts women wearing some form of headwear.
Overall I don’t think Game of Thrones is that accurate, but it’s also not what they were going for so it’s not a big deal. This was just a bit of fun. All of the costumes worn throughout the show are so beautiful and fantastically made. I’m so jealous of all of the women who got to wear them.