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Daenerys Targaryen's Style Evolution Through Game of Thrones

There's a lot of meaning to these looks

Amanda Bell
210416-game-of-thrones-emilia-clarke.jpg
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Daenerys Targaryen's Style Evolution Through Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is one of the most polarizing figures in the world of Game of Thrones. Her drastic turn in the final season of the series and her controversial decision to level Kings Landing to the ground with her last remaining dragon had a lot of Thrones fans scratching their head, but perhaps what we can all agree on when it comes to the Mother of Dragons is that her fashion choices were on point. 

In celebration of the Game of Thrones Iron Anniversary, TV Guide is revisiting Daenerys' style evolution throughout the series, from a humble refugee to (briefly) the queen of Westeros. 

If you want to revisit each of Dany's outfits for yourself, Game of Thrones is available to stream on HBO Max.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 1: "Winter Is Coming"

The very first time we meet Daenerys, she's in Pentos with her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd), who trades her to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) for the allegiance of his Dothraki khalasar. Her clothes are loose and body-baring, which reflects her lack of agency over herself and the fact that she's being objectified by the men in her life.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 2: "The Kingsroad"

Daenerys again wears loose and soft-toned colors in the second episode, and the coloring gives her a visual air of innocence as she's still referred to as a "child" by Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Later on, however, the Khaleesi's showing of skin also seems to mirror her interest in taking some control over her arranged marriage to the khal, particularly in their bedchambers.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 3: "Lord Snow"

As Daenerys begins to embrace her status and power as the Khaleesi, she dons a midriff-baring riding suit that echoes the styling and colors of the Dothraki garbs. Even so, she still subtly sports what look to be a dragon pin hidden in her earth toned top.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"

Daenerys also starts to incorporate braids in her hair-styling, which may be a nod to the Dothraki tradition of letting their own braids grow until they are defeated in battle.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 6: "A Golden Crown"

After proving her might by eating a stallion's heart, Daenerys begins to bring in more Dothraki accessories into her clothing, including an arakh pin as a nod to the khalasar's signature weapon. This parallels her growing allegiance to the khal (and herself) over the power-hungry Viserys. However, her necklace also resembles dragon teeth, which speaks to her realization that she, unlike her brother, has the blood of the dragon in her veins.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 7: "You Win or You Die"

Khaleesi soon begins sporting what will become her signature footwear: practical boots. "There's always a fear in her that she will have to leave so it gives her the freedom to always escape and run," costume designer Michele Clapton told The Telegraph of the shoes' meaning. "If she had silly shoes on she'd lose all her strength."

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 8: "The Pointy End"

Although she wears the hues of the khalasar, Daenerys' clothes also feature dragon scales on her top, again signifying her embracing her birthright.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 10: "Fire and Blood"

To mourn the death of Khal Drogo, Daenerys again wears her wedding dress. Once she emerges unburnt from the funeral pyre, however, those threads have been destroyed and she emerges in nothing but her birthday suit as the Mother of Dragons.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 2, Episode 5: "The Ghosts of Harrenhal"

Upon being accepted into Qarth, Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) gifts Daenerys with this gold-plated blue gown that is meant to mimic the gates of the lush city-state. Daenerys is initially hesitant to wear it but is advised that it would be rude not to, since she intends to develop a diplomatic relationship with her host.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 2, Episode 6: "The Old Gods and the New"

Daenerys again wears a gilded gown that matches the style of Xaro. However, it won't last long, as she declines his offer of marriage.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 2, Episode 7: "A Man Without Honor"

After her dragons are stolen in Qarth, Daenerys still wears the delicate frocks of the city but visibly couples them with her sturdier riding pants and boots, and later adds a protective breastplate to indicate her willingness to fight for what is hers, even in an unfamiliar place such as this.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 2, Episode 10: "Valar Morghulis"

By the time she enters the House of the Undying, Daenerys has concealed nearly all Qarthian elements of her clothing in place of her more rugged battle gear.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 3, Episode 1: "Valar Dohaeris"

As Daenerys arrives to Slaver's Bay to meet the Unsullied, we see her in a blue gown with subtle scales embroidered in the fabric. The color of the piece is also meant to be a bit of tribute to the late khal, as Michele Clapton told Fashionista, "Blue was their special color. We decided that it was a rare natural pigment available to them in their region, so it's sort of her weird tribute to him." She repeats the look for several episodes of the season and the next, occasionally adding a cape and even a leather harness.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 3, Episode 7: "The Bear and Maiden Fair"

As she travels with her newly-freed army of Unsullied soldiers, Daenerys begins to wear gowns that more closely resemble the fashions of Essos, particularly what Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) wears, trimmed with chokers that nod to Daenerys' new title as the Breaker of Chains. She even trades her tooth necklace for a metal choker by the season's end.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 4, Episode 5: "First of His Name"

Daenerys manages to take control of Meereen and enjoys her tenure as the "Mhysa" of so many freed people while she can. While doing so, she starts wearing more white and grayish pieces, which Michele Clapton said is meant to indicate a dreaminess. "Now she's got this sense of power and also a sense of immortality," she told Fashionista. "I wanted to give this rather untouchable [quality] to her. The idea behind the white and pale grey is the sense of removal, a removal from reality."

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 4, Episode 6: "The Laws of Gods and Men"

Of course, she's still incorporating some of the blue that's meant to pay tribute to her late husband as she learns what it means to rule her new people, but that's partially because she has yet to move onto the next romantic prospect.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 4, Episode 7: "Mockingbird"

After Daenerys and Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) engage in a physical relationship in Meereen, Dany sports this slinky cross-body gown as a means of confirming their intimacy to Ser Jorah.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 4, Episode 8: "The Mountain and the Viper"

As Daenerys and Missandei's relationship continues to blossom into a more close-knit companionship with mutual respect, Dany begins to adopt more and more of her styling, including this cross-collared dress design with complimentary bluish hues.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 5, Episode 1: "The Wars to Come"

Daenerys' rule over Meereen is not without its fair share of setbacks, and as she grapples with the warring factions within her own city, she also has competing interests in her wardrobing designs as well. As Michele Clapton explained of her memorable V-neck gown, "It's almost like it's revealing, but at the last minute it's not. It's held together. She wants to be attractive and appealing, but at the same time she wants to be in control." A closer inspection of the fabric reveals that while it looks whimsical from a distance, the layers also contain her signature dragon scales.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 5, Episode 5: "Kill the Boy"

Daenerys' "bridal-but-not-really" style continues as she deals with the insurrection by the Sons of the Harpy, with another V-neck white gown that is subtly embellished with dragon scales.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 5, Episode 7: "The Gift"

Daenerys begins to accesorize with some regal hardware as she attempts to bring peace to the people of Meereen, adding an air of strength and richness to her otherwise simple white gown.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 5, Episode 9: "The Dance of Dragons"

Her ornate dragon necklace in particular serves as a status symbol for the dragon queen.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 6, Episode 1: "The Red Woman"

The wings of her dragon necklace are clipped once she has to be rescued from the insurrection in the Meereenese fighting pit by Drogon, only to be kidnapped by a khalasar. "I put her in this column dress of almost white with a silver necklace, which visually removed her from the dirt and the fighting. And then she has to flee and I wanted the wings to come off so she'd be left with less of a dragon," Michele Clapton later said of the slight, but significant costuming change.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 6, Episode 5 - "The Door"

After successfully escaping the temple of the dosh khaleen by killing the khals who attempted to confine her there, Daenerys convinces the remaining Dothraki to follow her and once again begins wearing their signature earthtone garbs, with the iron-and-pearl ring that saved her as a charm on her necklace.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 6, Episode 10 - "The Winds of Winter"

Much like Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), whose reign Daenerys intends to end as she sets sail for Westeros, Daenerys' clothes begin to darken as she inches ever nearer to her goal of crossing the Narrow Sea.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 7, Episode 1 - "Dragonstone"

Upon finally reaching her family's homestead, Daenerys' threads begin to look more sturdy and clean-shapen, with hints of red and a structure that reminds us of her late brother's costumes. Michele Clapton told Vanity Fair of the look, "The silhouette purposely echoes that of the Targaryen style that her brother wore in Season 1."

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 7, Episode 2: "Stormborn"

Daenerys also begins to add some shoulder embellishments to her look, much like Queen Cersei and even Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) are in other parts of the world where they hold power. There are also subtle incorporations of the color red, which is a sign that she's ready to represent House Targaryen.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 7, Episode 3: "The Queen's Justice"

Daenerys also begins to sport a chain and sash, which Michele Clapton meant to be her own version of a queen's jewelry, since she has yet to take the crown and throne she really wants. As she told Uproxx, "She can't have a crown, she hasn't conquered yet. But I loved this [idea] of this chain of intent."

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 7, Episode 4: "The Spoils of War."

In addition to the black and red tones, Daenerys also sports the same grey hue of her army. "She's this figurehead of her army. I wanted her to be able to stand in front of the Unsullied and be their leader," Michele Clapton told Uproxx.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 7, Episode 5: "Eastwatch"

After spending some time with Jon Snow (Kit Harington), a tiny bit of northern-style fur begins to creep into the lining of her cloak, which is a hint that she's developed a true bond with him. As Michele Clapton has told Marie Claire of her work across the entire series, "The costumes always tell stories, often hinting at loyalties and desires." Her faith in Jon would later be tested as he set out to capture a wight and attempt to treat with Cersei.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 7, Episode 6: "Beyond the Wall"

Perhaps the most memorable piece from Daenerys' closet is her fur cloak from the wight hunt rescue. For Clapton, it was important the coat be both weather-appropriate for her mission and indicative of her sacrifice. "I felt that there should be a definite shift in her look as she embarks on the mission of aiding Jon's team trapped north of the Wall. I think it's the first time that she has really been to the aid of another individual... and she is putting herself at risk. And for a king at that!" she told Vanity Fair. "Dany is elevating her look to that of warrior queen, with the beautiful silver dragon chain completing the look." She later wears the same cloak as she arrives to Winterfell, but there are a few more hints of red in it than before.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 2: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"

Upon arrival to Winterfell, Daenerys' costuming features even more flecks of red than before. "With Dany in particular, finally we're getting the [Targaryen] red. She was a confused woman, she was wandering ... trying to seek something. And now she's finally got her armor, she's finally got everything, and she can finally echo the style of her brother with the extended shoulders and the red and the symbolism," Michele Clapton told Insider of the significance of the increasing hue.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 4: "The Last of the Starks"

Daenerys' use of reds becomes even more consistent as she faces the loss of her closest associates, including Jorah, Rhaegal, and Missandei, in the wake of the battle against the Night King and her subsequent journey south to King's Landing.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 5: "The Bells"

In the beginning of the penultimate episode, it appears as though Daenerys is mourning the loss of Rhaegal and Missandei, as she refuses to eat and wears dark, funereal clothes. Some fans perceived her falling braids to signify her sadness over the loss of her friend, but Daenerys is also grieving the news that Jon Snow has revealed his true identity to others, as she'd begged him not to.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 5: "The Bells"

Daenerys finally emerges from her chambers to execute Lord Varys, who has betrayed her after finding out that Jon Snow is the true Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne. As she sentences the spider to death, she wears an all-red suit that is meant to amplify her air of hostility.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 5: "The Bells"

After successfully sieging King's Landing, Daenerys is shown covered in soot but still donning the red and black colors of her house, and the shimmering effect of her coat makes her practically indistinguishable from Drogon while she's on his back. The most important thing she's wearing, though, is her expression as she waits for the surrender bells to toll. It's not clear what she's going to do yet, but her face indicates that she's on the brink of something terrible. Indeed, as soon as those surrender bells are rung, she loses it and begins to raze King's Landing. It might be completely out-of-character, or at least rushed, for the Mother of Dragons to harm innocents, but there's no denying she was dressed for the occasion.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 6: "The Iron Throne"

The first time we see Daenerys in the series finale, Drogon is perched behind her in such a way that his wings become hers: a sign that she has truly become the dragon. It's a stunning shot and speaks volumes about how far gone Dany is now, which is good because the scripts left something to be desired in that regard.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Season 8, Episode 6: "The Iron Throne"

As she's speaking to her audience of Unsullied and Dothraki soldiers about her vision for more conquests and "liberations" of cities, Dany's styling also resembles that of a dragon. Her braids arch up like Drogon's spikes, and the cuffs of her sleeves have a winged effect in the wintry wind. Some fans may have been disappointed that Daenerys didn't actually become a dragon by the time her story was done, but in a way, she did -- at least when it came to her costuming.