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How Game of Thrones uses costume design to show power

Costume design links Sansa Stark and Cersei Lannister — and shows their struggles with authority.

Sansa Stark and Cersei Lannister are two of Game of Thrones’ most recognizable enemies. But despite being on opposite sides of Westeros, their costumes have a lot in common.

From the very beginning of the show, their outfits have been mirrors. When both women are oppressed and weak in the show’s earlier seasons, they’re dressed in loose pastel clothing signaling their lack of power. As their plots become more complicated, they don “survival camouflage” — clothes used to mask secrets and blend in with surrounding enemies. And when Cersei and Sansa begin to assert the power of their houses in later seasons, Lannister lions and Stark wolves become the focal point of their clothes.

In the show’s final season, the costume design for both women defaults to military-style accents on their gowns as they prep for battle. Those high-necked dresses evoke images of each family’s armor, full of defensive details like epaulets and draped chains. And while both leaders have learned different lessons about war and family, it’s safe to say their outfit parallels are there for a reason.

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