It took seven season before Daenerys finally shed her blue and white gowns for her family’s red and black. Sansa went from King’s Landing’s hairstyles and gowns, to threatening birdlike leather, to full Stark leather. Jaime traded Kingsguard armor for the rags of a prisoner for his father’s Lannister armor.
We know the costume department is very purposeful when it comes to dressing their characters. Each piece specifically represents the character’s story.
So what narrative is Cersei’s wardrobe telling?
In season 1, we see two sides of Cersei, though throughout both she wears faded, washed out versions of colors we will see her wear in the future; a visual reminder of her weaker position as Queen, in relation to her husband.
First, we see her relaxed style, or as relaxed as the plotting queen can be. We see the side of her the public doesn’t get to see:
But particullarly, we see Cersei dressed in light blues whenever she is acting quite maternal:
Standing up for Joffrey while Robert talks with an injured Ned (this is also the scene when Robert hits her). Notice the bird details. A direct parallel to Sansa? A fragile animal? Perhaps the bird represents her maternal side.
Then we have Cersei Lannister, the picture perfect Queen. This Cersei wouldn’t be caught dead without her hair in King’s Landing’s most recent style:
It’s important to note that in the above photo, the size of her Lannister lions greatly overshadow her Baratheon antler crown.
This is similar even when she’s in Winterfell:
All the colors Cersei wears in season one are a washed out version of her future colors.
Whether she is the Queen of the Seven Kingdom’s or the Queen Regent and Queen Mother, Cersei’s style remains static. Even after Robert is dead, she continues to dress like the a fashionable Queen.
Also- can we talk about her lack of mourning clothes?
Season 2 immediately drapes Cersei in her favorable Lannister red and gold. It’s important to notice how bold these reds and golds are compared to her first season Lannister garb. Cersei is never caught without her heavy Lannister amulet dangling from her neck, a constant reminder of the family honor she has to uphold.
Above we see Cersei in one of the first scenes in season 2, clad in what will become her signature look for seasons to come.
This is one of the only times we see Cersei in a color different than red or gold, and it’s for Myrcella. This dress is a repeat from season 1, one she wore when she was defending Joffrey. It’s a dress that callsback her maternal side we saw throughout season 1. Again, the fragile birds for a fragile moment….
Here we see Cersei mourning the loss of her daughter being sent to Dorne, wearing the same shawl we see in Season 1 during the jousting scene. I’ve heard people compare this costume to that of a bird’s wings, now heavy, but I think it’s more of a depiction of the weight of the Lannister family, and how it’s a burden. Perhaps a mix of both.
And now, for my favorite dress of season 2:
This dress has a bird AND a lion, and if you remember, she’s wearing this during the Battle of the Blackwater, hoping for a Lannister win but willing to kill herself and Tommen if necessary, to protect him. She is being a bird and a lion, but physical protecting herself with armor. The first we see of her protecting herself via her clothes.
By season 3, Cersei has fully abandoned her maternal birds for her Lannister Lion.
For Joff’s wedding, she’s in her classic Lanniser colors, along with a King’s Landing updo, but her neck is protected with a thick necklace.
Again, Cersei protects herself not only with chest armor, but a thick, lion necklace.
Season 4 puts Cersei back in the two above dresses, each at least once, until Joffrey dies, and she goes into mourning (which she didn’t do for Robert or Myrcella). Also, Jaime’s back.
You’ll notice, though she still wears thick necklaces, she’s shed her chest armor. Perhaps becomes Jaime is home and she feels protected with him around?
She outfit repeats (in public!) for Tyrion’s trial, but she still keeps up appearances by wearing her hair in King’s Landing fashion.
Season 5 finds Cersei trading her classic red and gold for darker colors, mourning for her father and son, and eventually her daughter.
(outfit repeating again)
And then that happens…..
After her walk of shame, Cersei dons one of her Lannister dresses from season 3, probably for pride and comfort.
We also find her clad in another black/deep maroon dress from the previous season.
And then we have “I’m blowin’ up the sept, fuck ’em” Cersei. She’s completely abandon her previous styles, instead channeling their father. You may notice, her throat, for the very first time, is concealed.
From here on out, her outfits will reflect Tywin.
Tommen’s dead. Cersei’s Queen.
Again, her throat is concealed, and her dress is thick and protective. Not to mention the shoulder plates. In previous seasons, she protected herself via chest armor and necklaces, but now, she’s fully clad in thick leather and shoulder plates, with no skin vulnerable. It reflects her mental state.
But now comes the most important bit.
As you scroll back up, you may notice that in the earlier seasons, Cersei’s throat is bare. Eventually, she adds thick necklaces, along with armor, as protection.
By the end of season 6, her throat is encompassed by leather.
Back tracking a bit, you may have heard of the Mad Queen theory.
It all starts with the witch Cersei met in her childhood. The show left out one interesting line from the prophecy that’s in the books:
“Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear… (Cersei then asks if she’ll have children) …Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you… Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds. And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
So far, everything she’s sad has come true, aside from the new queen casting her down (though there are plenty in the running), and her death.
“Valonqar” means little brother in High Valeryian, so clearly, Cersei believes the prophecy is referencing Tyrion, but, as Cersei was born slightly before her twin Jaime, many believe Jaime will be the one that kills her.
And it makes sense the Kingslayer would be the one to do so. He killed the Mad King when he was prepared to “burn them all” with wildfire. We already saw Cersei kill everyone inside (and around) the Sept of Baelor without any worry of the consequences. Now that she has no children, she has nothing left to lose, making her more dangerous than ever. Jaime would go from the Kingslayer to the Queenslayer.
Of course, this theory has been around for years, but a specific detail in Cersei’s newest outfit this season seems to hint at that potential future:
See those spikes? Protecting her neck from anyone who were to touch her?
You can see them again here.
For a moment I thought the show’s costume department was only trying to reflect Cersei’s fear of the prophecy coming true, but then I remembered they show omitted the line about the valonqar. Why omit the line you ask? Probably because it’d be too difficult to explain and potentially too obvious.
Another fun thing to add, fans noticed in this scene Jaime is standing on an area known as ‘the fingers’, and Cersei is standing on ‘the neck’ of Westeros.
As we’ve seen throughout the show, Cersei’s costume always reflects her narrative. The spikes around her neck and her sudden need to cover her neck, as she covered herself with armor previous for protection, can’t be just a coincidence!