Hell hath no fury like Cersei Lannister. As one of "Game of Thrones'" greatest villains and arguably one of the best evil queens this side of Snow White, Cersei is no stranger to tough calls and manipulation – but, like most bad guys, she still manages to be one of the series’ most complex characters.
Of course, it took us three seasons to recognize that. While Season 1 saw her live in the shadow of husband Robert Baratheon, she eventually clinches power in the second season, and goes on to become fiercely loyal to her family as her story progresses – even though she’s arguably a Lannister pawn used to establish power through marriage. (The patriarchy: there is no escape.)
As we head into "Game of Thrones" Season 4, we look at how Cersei’s evolution from “just a wife” (not that she ever was) to combatant to powerless observer was indicated through her style choices. "Game of Thrones" – it’s more than just a TV show.
Warning: if you haven't watched Seasons 1 through 3, there may be spoilers.
Queen-Like And Feminine
As brought up perfectly by Clothes on Film, Cersei’s first season garb reflects her social standing: that of a queen. Her husband comes first (despite him loving Lyanna Stark), and she’s left in his shadow. This is why, when confronted by Eddard Stark about her relationship with Jaime in Season 1 (for example), we see her in lighter colours and much more feminine cuts as opposed to the bolder looks she dons as the series progresses.
She’s arguably assuming an image that’s innocent when in reality it’s very much the opposite. By the time Season 2 starts and Baratheon’s dead, she starts dressing like a king.
The thing is, even when Cersei was in Baratheon’s shadow she really wasn’t. Case in point: her affair with Jaime, who ends up pushing 10-year-old Bran Stark out the window after he catches the two hooking up. At Winterfell, Cersei’s embroidered satin green gown alludes to a kept, quiet queen – when in reality, she’s just as complex as those embroidered flowers are when examined more closely.
Silent And Deadly
By the close of the season, what Cersei was (and is) capable of got even clearer – but her ability to hide her intentions was helped by her flair for neutrality, at least in terms of style. When speaking with Joffrey, she delivers the revelation: “Anyone who isn’t us is the enemy.” All while wearing a soft, simple gown that works to mask how commanding she really is. When Montell Jordan sang “This is How We Do It,” he was referring to Cersei’s costumes.
“And We’ll Never Be Royals”
Cersei plots better than any of us, and her intention to continue ruling is exemplified by the ever-increasing amounts of gold in her wardrobe. In Season 2, she’s playing second fiddle to no one – not even her son, Joffrey, of whom she’s Queen Regent to. Her desire for bigger and better is reflected in each dress (which are now intricately beaded and embellished to make up for years she spent playing demure).
Kill Or Be Killed
On that note, Clothes on Film also pointed out another important detail: while Cersei previously wore birds on her dresses to signify being locked in a cage (ex. married to her former husband), she begins wearing dresses with lions on the sleeve, proving her hunter-like mentality.
Loving Him Was Red
The same can be said for the deeper, more dramatic colours – specifically red, the colour of blood. (And passion, which she is also not lacking.) However, it’s important to remember that despite Cersei’s lust for power (also signified by red), she’s not losing sight of how the game’s played: when Sansa asks if she should love Joffrey, the Queen tells her that love makes her weak and to love only your own children. (Dark, but in this case, also accurate.)
Never in Season 1 would you have seen Cersei don armour – not when her dynasty was still relatively safe, and her position relatively in place. But as tensions rise, she begins incorporating armour into her everyday wear, a far cry from the light greens and near-pastels of the year before. Girlfriend is hardly just an ornament now – a fashion trend that continues through most of Season 3.
Back To Basics
And now, Cersei Lannister like we’ve never seen her before: sleeveless and casual (as far as "Game of Thrones" gets anyway). By the close of the season, the character-formerly-known-as-Robert’s wife was forced to come face to face with her reality: her son is a terrifying king, and because she was so wrapped up in own agenda, she never grew into a parent whose advice her children would seek out and value. Now, Cersei has been left stripped both literally and figuratively: of power, and also of panache. Not an embellishment in sight.