This post contains information about Game of Thrones up to season 6, episode 6.
New attention has been recently brought to a long-standing fan theory, that, rather than being the benevolent future monarch to unite the Seven Kingdome, Daenerys “Khaleesi” “First of her name” “The Unburnt” “Mother of Dragons” “etc etc” Targaryen may in fact be the series’ next major villain. She may not so much liberate Westeros as destroy it with her genetic predisposition to insanity. If this does turn out to be the case, GoT has been pulling one hell of a long con on the entire viewing audience, the majority of whom have been cheering the last six seasons for her to muster an army and swoop in to seize the Iron Throne from all the non-dragon-owners who’ve been warring for it all along. But in considering her as a possible future antagonist, it starts to seem like the showrunners have been hiding clues about her in plain sight i.e. her costumes. Could it be true? Let’s investigate.
Season One: I took your matches before fire could catch me
Not entirely unlike Sansa Stark (whose costume transformation we covered last week), Daenerys started things off as a powerless young girl, under control of her family. Unlike Sansa, the Targaryens are a mostly-dead dysfunctional clan of horrors, sort of like a white-blond Addams Family scenario. Can you blame her for dressing to best blend into the walls behind her?
It’s surreal to relive this plotline, knowing now what this woman is capable of. But back in season one, episode one, she let her brother undress and leer at her, then put on this see-through dress to be sold as a bride to a total stranger. Also, they used to try and lighten Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows which makes her look even weaker, somehow. If not for the badass dragon shoulder clasps on this number, the whole look is flimsy enough to just float away.
She marries Khal Drogo (#RIP to our weekly scenes of Jason Mamoa’s hotness) in this slightly-less-transparent dress. She didn’t order this dress made so it’s not an outright statement of her taking ownership of herself, but considering her see-through past, it’s a step in a new direction for her. We also see the elements she’s going to continue to bring throughout her drastic life changes, namely: huge Targaryen-branded jewels and exposed arms and shoulders.
Now a part of the Khalasar and officially taking on the name that a lot of people think *is* her name, Daeneerys transforms into Khaleesi in this #1 most cosplayed outfit. Unlike Sansa, we never see Dany sewing her own clothes so I’m going to assume they’re crafted by her handmaidens. And moving to a culture where everyone’s dressed for constant travel and battle, she gets this Xena Warrior Priness-esque combo of thick fabrics. This is the first time we see her out of pastel hues, and it’s no coincidence this is her lewk when she shoots down her terrible brother (oh, for the days when Viserys was the worst dude to dread on this show). Also: makeshift boxing gloves, surprisingly, become one of her signature pieces.
She begins to discover herself as her own person while living with the Khalasar, with the love and support of Drogo. This next number is again making use of the materials she has on hand, using, I think, fish scales as leather?
Khal Drogo dies and, as his widow, she’s left in the funeral pyre to burn along with him. But ruh-roh, turns out the fire hatched her dragon eggs and she herself is impervious to burning so season one ends with the Khalasar bowing down and agreeing to follow her (and her l’il baby dragons). This scene occurs with her powerfully nude, standing before them out of her clothes. Exposed skin and power is as much a theme for her as dragonflies and birds are for Sansa.
Possible villainous foreshadowing: has superpower that could be used for good OR evil, controls three deadly monsters, clearly enjoyed being in a powerful position within her new culture.
Season Two: Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream
So, Dany may now be the leader of an army, but they’re still stranded in the middle of the desert and everyone’s dying of mainly dehydration. Her “leader of a doomed campaign, in way over her head” look comprises of the same tweed-adjacent top and tarp-adjacent skirt as in season one, but her time in the Red Waste seems to have done away with the beads and embellishment, leaving her with only a single ring to accessorize with. At least her magic skin kept her from sunburn (I presume).
But her baby dragons help her talk her way into a new home, as she brings her followers with her into the in-the-middle-of-the-desert walled city of Qarth. Once there, she’s finally able to take a bath, comb her hair, and change into something new: a new aquamarine dress gifted by the top politicians in town. This soft filminess of this gown harkens back to her early season one looks. She’s looking sort of like pre-marriage Dany, but the OG Daenerys, but with her own army and hence more confidence. I think they may be bleaching her brows again which: not necessary, seriously. Her brows are important enough to get their own nod in the opening credits.
Clearly Qarth is known for their pale blue fabrics as her next ensemble, presumably another gift, is in the same color family. This one is more her style, though, with even more hardware and what looks like side panels made from her Khaleesi skirt. She may be a beautiful woman in a lovely gown, but she’s also fronting very hard to be seen as a badass.
Buuut she’s not actually as much of a badass as she thinks she is, as the freaky priests of Qarth are able to kidnap her dragons (leading to the still-frequently-parodied “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS???” sequence) and once again, she’s being used as a pawn by someone more powerful. But this time, she’s got a squad to help her out. She picks up her dragons, throws on this breastplate with built-in dragon stand (seriously, they should make these for cats and small dogs) and straight up locks her enemy and a double agent handmaiden in a vault to basically die.
The season doesn’t end with this mic drop, but rather with Dany riding off on some new-to-her ships with her now tweenage dragons. She changes into what becomes her next signature outfit, a very pigmented blue dress that’s Queenly in the front and party in the back with the cutout. And this braided ‘do launched a thousand Pinterest tutorial links. And her commitment to dragon-themed jewellery is still on hand in the form of this double-fang open necklace.
Possible villainous foreshadowing: Pet monsters now larger and more deadly, has amassed yet more equipment and followers, ability to cold-bloodedly murder two people, one of whom she used to be close to.
Season three: So watch me strike a match on all my wasted time
Dany’s ship lands in Astapor where she picks up a new BFF/handmaiden in the form of translation expert Missandei, but is too busy to change out of this dress/pants ensemble for episode after episode. She’s got a new necklace now, and reveals that this is not just a pretty dress — she’s working a dress/pants combo like it’s 2002. But most notable about this look, to me, is that the bodice is patterned in a sort of dragon scale pattern. She’s at that point of pet ownership where cat owners start wearing Garfield sweatshirts all the time.
This look is so no-nonsense, though, it may truly be the first time she’s dressed as absolutely herself — not pleasing a family member or fitting in with a new culture, but just serving up Daenerys Realness 100%. It’s a versatile piece too, as evidenced by the addition of a badass single-shoulder cloak in the image below:
Aaaaand then we get to her first major mass murder, when she torched the (admittedly odious) Astapor slaver after (extremely badassedly) revealing she didn’t need a translator at all and totally speaks his language and knows what he’s been saying about her all along. For this signature moment, she steps up her look with a full cloak and some epic eyebrows.
Mission accomplished in Astapor, she takes her increasingly huge army/navy to Yunkai, where she debuts a new look: blonde Cleopatra. I mean, this look. come on. First of all, she’s literally living in a tent yet still has assembled this glamping boudoir, complete with ginormous sofa-throne and casual dragon just chilling out like it’s no thing. I’m very into the way that she expresses her power and Queenliness in such a quintessentially womanly way: hair always down, dresses always overtly feminine. This shows that she’s a) coming to power on her own terms and b) has such faith in her bodyguards she doesn’t need to wear armor at all.
Fresh off her success in Astapor, she then frees the slaves of Yunkai, who cheered her as “Mhysa” which means “mother” so really they’re into her the way so many teens are into Kylie on Instagram these days. Anyway, Dany’s back in her blue dress, now with a leather holster scenario, as she crowd-surfs her way through a scene in the third season finale that, in retrospect, was sort of the high point of her days as a conqueror/liberator.
Possible villainous foreshadowing: dragons are willing and able to murder at her command, very adept at playing dumb, speaks numerous languages, wears only one outfit in the manner of comic book supervillains.
Seasons Four and Five: This revolution, the time will come for us to finally win
After passing through two cities with mixed results, season four sees Dany settling into Meereen to practice being an actual Queen instead of a marauding conqueror. Living in one place means she’s able to dress a bit more ostentatiously, while her role as Queen finds her getting a little more formal, too. This is how you do monochromatic styles: the bodice and sleeves have the same dragon-skin pattern as her blue dress so it’s all white, but still visually satisfying. Combining an off-the-shoulder neckline with the drapey cape-like sleeves steps things up a notch while still imbuing the bare look that’s part of her signature style. Overall, a great Queenly look.
This one is an interesting combo of her earlier looks with her new Meereenese aesthetic. The blue fabric and cutout hearken back to her season two look, but the fabric is clearly more expensive. The silhouette is stunning, and I’m gagging here over the pleated skirt under the outer blue layer. She’s playing around with half-updos this season as well. I think this is another period of adjustment for her, sartorially speaking: she wants to be seen as a Queen, but not lose herself in the process, and isn’t sure what that means just yet.
Moving into season five, she’s still Queening it up in Meereen and things are still not going super-smoothly. Turns out it’s a lot easier to blow into town and inspire a rebellion than it is to hang around after and sort out the government. Which is the only excuse I can think of for why she a) had this dress made and b) wore it at all. So much to dig into. We’ve got her now-standard dragon-scale pattern, festooning two bikini cups rather than a bodice or sleeves. The dress’s trim, also possily in dragon-scale, crosses her abdomen and turns into epaulets on her shoulders. And the skirt is possibly re-used from her last number, as the pleating and colors are identical. I forget if this is before or after she’s started bone zoning Daario so maybe this is like Alicia Florrick’s sex bangs and is just being worn as a statement of “I JUST HAD SEX” or if it’s pre-Daario, maybe it’s a little bit of “HEY SAILOR” low key seduction. Either way, it’s got a very Star Trek aesthetic that sort of pulls you out of the moment while watching this scene.
Midriffs are having a moment for her at this time, as evidenced by this look which bares the perhaps under-represented high center midriff region. I think it must be her perfect posture and regal bearing because somehow this comes off as still Queenly to me. But it also looks sort of unfinished, like on Project Runway when a designer runs out of time to add a zipper so they just throw a bolt of fabric around their model and hope for the best. Considering the amount of time spent on that elaborate braided updo, you’d think her seamstresses could have done something a bit more finished looking. But then again, maybe the undone nature of this garment is meant to show how Dany is still struggling to make things work in Meereen.
That said, it looks lovely from the side.
She’s in her most Queenly gown again (no mistake, of course) when she appears before the people of Meereen to order an execution. Not her brightest moment, as the crowd revolts and she’s ushered out under armed guard.
Things being as they are, she decides to marry herself off in order to restore some semblance of peace around here. For the big wedding announcement/gladiatorial combat (?) she climbs into white yet again. It’s starting to seem like white is her anti-power color as terrible things happen to her whenever she opts out of the color wheel. Between the white column dress and the braided blond updo, I’m getting serious season two Serena van der Woodsen feelings here. But lest you forget who we’re looking at, the open dragon necklace reminds everyone of what she’s all about.
Oh and also, this dress is also possibly palazzo pants which is like: she dove right into the professional women pantsuit territory, didn’t she? Sidenote: Missandei always looks fantastic, doesn’t she? I’m guessing she’s not the one sewing Dany’s questionable Meereen Queen fashions.
Aaaand then one of her dragons goes ballistic and Dany goes riding off, away from this city to which she was, real talk, a pretty terrible Queen. And I now see why they gave this outfit such XXL cape sleeves: the better for dramatic dragon-riding sequences.
She finally lands on the cliffs of she-has-no-idea, her outfit singed and dirty from the flight. She began the season as a Queen and ends it in torn and burnt clothes, the only human for miles. Quite a trajectory here.
Possible villainous foreshadowing: frustration at trying to bring peace seemed to hint at a change in leadership approach in the future, her sudden preference for all-white navel-bearing outfits may be bringing her into Emma Frost supervillain territory.
Season six: This is a big world, that was a small town
And now we’re in season six, half of which has already aired. Let’s see what Dany’s worn and done so far, shall we? Things begin as a #flashbackfriday as she’s taken captive by a Khalasar who doesn’t realize her pedigree. She’s forced for another trudge through the desert, giving simultaneous season one and two flashbacks.
One look at her determined face shows Dany may be down, but she’s not out. Last season’s final outfit shows yet another element of its cleverness as the same decorative dragon neckpiece that set off her white gown at the fighting pit now helps differentiate her from your standard prisoner. And honestly? I think the messy ‘do suits her so much better than those fussy half-braided situations from her Meereen days.
Even though she explains to them that she’s Daenerys Stormborn The Unburnt Mother of Dragons Etc Etc., all they hear is she’s Khal Drogo’s widow and she’s sent to their version of Shady Pines: the home for Khaleesis that time forgot. She’s dressed against her will in clothes she doesn’t want and again, the intensity of her face here should send these dudes running for the hills. She has a legit army/navy AND three dragons AND both Tyrion and Varys on her side by now so basically: nobody stands a chance. Or so she thought.
Turns out, her spot at Shady Pines is not guaranteed until a council of dudes approves her. We assume the alternative is her death so, with no one arriving to rescue her, Dany pulls a Kelly Taylor/Paper Bag Princess and chooses to save herself. In the process, she straight-up murders these guys in a massive incident of arson.
Yes, friends, it’s the season one finale writ large as, instead of her surviving the immolation of her husband’s corpse, she survives the immolation of the entire council. She stands triumphantly nude yet again, but I’m not sure if as many people were cheering as when she emerged from Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre.
She’s back with her loyal squad of Daario and Jorah, both of whom basically worship her at this point, but her outlook on things has changed significantly. Where she used to be all about uniting people under her benevolent leadership, she now has no time for peacekeeping and wants to basically conquer the world. Post-destruction of her clothes via fire, she dons what I presume is what her two boyfriends brought her to wear which is a leather tee cut similarly to her infamous blue dress, an arm band (?) and riding gloves. The absence of handmaidens at present means it was her two hands who crafted these braids so: snaps to her for doing that without a three-way mirror.
So she’s off now to conquer the world, using similar words to those of her dead brother and husband. Partly, this shows that she’s now got a better understanding of what it will take to claim the Iron Throne. She started out full of ideals and a strong moral code and now she’s wound up where so many of her other challengers have: ambitious past the point where morality can have any role to play in it.
So will season six end with Dany breaking bad? We’ve got four episodes left and, at this point, I’d be surprised if she didn’t at least wade further into the extremely large grey area between good and bad where most of this show’s characters tend to live.