I Wore ‘Game Of Thrones’ Inspired Outfits For A Week This Is What Happened Actually

Which is precisely why I chose to don outfits inspired by them for seven days. There are few unquestionable truths I live by in this world (what is truth, anyway?), but among them is the simple reality that the characters of Game Of Thrones are amongst the most satisfyingly human, flawed, non compos mentis, and best-dressed on television.

Like so many feminine-clothing-loving-children, I used to dream of living in a place and at a time in which dressing up was the status quo. Repelled by low-rise jeans and skater sneaks, I longed for Victorian gowns and fine millinery; for princess-like silhouettes and dreamy embroidery. Watching the undeniable genius of GoT’s head costume designer Michele Clapton on screen is one of the infinite reasons I tune into HBO every Sunday night for 10 weeks of the year. I might not be able to dress up every day IRL, but I can at least watch people who can.

Recently, however, I began wondering why it is that I “can’t” dress up every day. Sure, rules of practicality dictate that wearing a floor-length ball gown on New Jersey Transit might not be the wisest course of action. Corsetry doesn’t particularly speak to my faja-eschewing soul, either. But what would actually happen if I channeled the women of Game Of Thrones who so inspire me, in an ever-so-slightly more low-key aesthetic and minus some wigs?

Besides my adoration of all things sartorial on GoT, the female characters themselves have really blown me away as of late. From Sansa to Daenerys, Yara Greyjoy to Brienne Of Tarth, Season 6 has undoubtedly been one drenched in women’s empowerment. We’ve seen ladies standing up for themselves in the face of ruthless and violent misogyny. We’ve seen them in unapologetic demonstrations of queerness. We’ve seen them cultivate physical and mental strength in equal measure. By wearing ensembles inspired by Game Of Thrones characters, I hoped to imbue just a little bit of that spirit into my own life. Here’s how that played out.

Day 1: Watcher On The Wall

For Day 1, I tried to envision what a Melisandre-meets-Jon-Snow-at-The-Wall outfit would look like. It had to be black, obviously, and feature some kind of vampy Red Woman-esque detail. This trumpet dress with bell sleeves and a lace-up front seemed like a pretty safe bet. I kept my makeup and hairstyling minimal. Members of the Night’s Watch have no time for such frivolities, after all.

Studio Lace-Up Trumpet Gown, $76.99, ELOQUII

Throughout the day, I received many compliments on how “witchy” I looked — appropriate given I was trying to stick some Melisandre into my look. And I must admit that I felt great.

Some of my coworkers and I were off-site for most of the day on a video shoot, and despite how many stunning and inspirational women I was around, I didn’t feel that out-of-place. Anxiety and paranoia have had me down on and off as of late, and that’s manifested in a lot of T-shirt wearing and internal self-deprecation. But dressing up as a would-be badass of The Wall took me out of the head-space more than a little bit.

I loved that the dress was simultaneously easy (no zipping was necessary) but also clearly a stand-out piece. Melisandre, although quite glorious to look at, doesn’t seem to put a whole lot of effort into her look. I was beginning to question whether striking that balance between comfort and glamour was something worth pursuing more often.

Day 2: Old School Red Woman Vibes

The Red Woman is often in, well, red. Unlike many of the ladies in King’s Landing, her dresses are typically a little lower cut; her magical necklace rarely ever out of sight. We know that Melisandre (regardless of how old she actually is) utilizes her sex appeal frequently and strategically, so I kind of wanted to don something a little slinky and bold to capture a dollop of that femme fatale aura.

Lace-Up Maxi Dress, $54.50, Ashley Stewart

It blows my mind how easily an outfit can alter your mood, but this one certainly did. I started this experiment only a few days after recovering from being sick, and I’d still been feeling mentally and physically drained. I hadn’t made much time for intimacy with my partner, opting to crash shortly after arriving home from work instead.

But something about keeping Melisandre’s admittedly corrupt fierceness in mind helped me drift away from that. The biggest takeaway here was that sometimes feeling like a badass, sex positive babe who’s about to charm you with her fire powers is down to telling yourself you are one. I spent a pretty glorious night with my partner this time around, and my mood was tangibly elevated the whole rest of the day, too.

Day 3: Low-Key Margaery Tyrell

Before Margaery Tyrell was all about piousness and modesty (not that she really is, guys. It’s all a trick), our queen favored jacquard gowns with exquisite detailing on the necklines and chest. Never quite as covered-up as some of her elders in King’s Landing, Margaery has proven to be empowered in more connotations than one, from the intellectual to the scheming to the sexual. I wanted to channel her love for detail while wearing something slinky enough that still read as “feelin’ myself” — some gold jewelry included, of course.

Tribal Stud Mock Neck Maxi Dress, $54.50, Ashley Stewart; Multi-Bangle Cuff, $32.90, ELOQUII; Flared Chrystal Bracelet, $22.90, ELOQUII 

Working in New York and spending a good amount of my time in the city means I’m no stranger to catcalling and sexual harassment — much like every other person-with-boobs in Manhattan, I’m sure. But dressing like Margaery Tyrell sure did bring them out of the woodwork. That isn’t to say that what a woman is wearing is ever responsible for the way those around her (very often men) decide that she deserves to be treated, of course. But from the dude at the bagel shop who kept touching my shoulders and the small of my back while asking me to dance and leave my partner, to the one on the street who told me my c*nt probably tasted of the forest, something about this day really had folks feeling free to express their grossest thoughts and desires in my vicinity.

I spent most of the day at work, where many of the kind people I was around told me how “elegant” and “lovely” I looked. But the greatest thing by far was how productive I felt. I met my deadlines at work, and even managed to answer some emails from my long-neglected personal inbox. (OK, only three emails. But that’s a much better figure than that of the last several months.)

Inspirational messaging is always going on and on about “dressing for the life you want, not the life you have,” or “dressing for the person you want to feel like, not the one you actually feel like,” and there’s undoubtedly something to that. Both Game Of Thrones and fashion itself hold a lot more power than we might realize.

Day 4: Somewhere In Meereen

So, the next look is a little out-of-the-box. I wanted to channel the general vibes of Meereen and several of the Eastern cities Daenerys has come across on her conquering travels. I also wanted to channel a little bit of Missandei, because she’s highly underrated and wonderful. The result was something a little more fit for a gladiator, chain belt included, but I can still picture a derivative of this ensemble working out in one of the foreign cities.

Accordion Pleat Tank Dress, $54.50, Ashley Stewart; The Lucy Layered Chain Belt, $35, Ready To Stare; Colorblock Gladiator Sandal, $49.50, Ashley Stewart; Multi-Bangle Cuff, $32.90, ELOQUII; Flared Chrystal Bracelet, $22.90, ELOQUII 

If Day 3 was a day for sexual attention, then Day 4 was one seemingly designed to take me off of any Game Of Thrones-inspired pedestal I’d been on. I was reminded of just how disturbed many people become when they see a fat woman wearing something that isn’t meant to hide her figure/existence. Although many of the feminist and badass women I have the pleasure of working with were quick to tell me I looked like a “goddess” and “straight out of a Renaissance painting,” the rest of the world was not so kind.

At a Starbucks later in the day, three pleasant teens caught sight of me walking in. One visibly pointed at me while whispering to her friends; never averting her gaze from the sight of inappropriate fatness beneath a too-bright hue and a chain belt.

Later still, a man with his wife caught clear sight of me, whispering to his paramour with a look that radiated of disgust. I’d offended him, just via the simple act of being alive and wearing funky shoes. His wife looked over at me, stifling a giggle. They proceeded to whisper, but when they looked over again, my partner waved at the woman while giving her his brightest smile. People who choose to be assholes don’t really deserve one’s time or energy, IMO, but they often deserve to be made to feel just as uncomfortable as their undeniable prejudices make others feel.

All this excluded, I felt wonderful. This look was one of the more costume-like ones to date, and made me feel like I was walking through my very own fairytale. Too bad there are still bigoted fools in fairytales.

Day 5: Margaery Meets Shae

I wanted Day 5’s ensemble to be something of a hybrid between the aesthetics of Shae and Margaery: Two outsiders in King’s Landing. Hailing from Lorath and working as a prostitute until meeting Tyrion, Shae’s typical look was far from the elegance expected of ladies in the Red Keep. Her dresses were flowy and easy; the details minimal and modest. As for Margaery, she’s never been afraid of showing off a little more skin than the majority of her Westerosi counterparts.

Chain Belt Hi-Low Maxi Dress, $59.50, Ashley Stewart; Colorblock Gladiator Sandal, $49.50, Ashley Stewart; Multi-Bangle Cuff, $32.90, ELOQUII; Flared Chrystal Bracelet, $22.90, ELOQUII 

This was probably my least favorite look of the whole experiment, and my suspicion is that it was mostly down to not having as solid an image in my head of who I was trying to embody. I felt sexy when dressing like Melisandre; beautiful when evoking the mysticism of the East. Although I loved the dress itself and the ease of wearing it was pretty glorious, I didn’t love feeling quite so me. It had been a week of escapism: Of taking myself out of my reality and all the aspects of it bringing me anxiety, and placing myself into the reality of Game Of Thrones. I didn’t feel ready to just be me again.

This day was spent primarily with relatives in South Jersey, with a few excursions to nearby shops and the ice cream parlor thrown into the mix. Had I worn this look in New York, I’m certain no one would have noticed me. The best thing about this city, IMO, is that you’re more or less free to rock whatever aesthetic you want. Judgment might come here or there; but sartorial experimentation is sort of part of the deal. New Jersey, however, is not about that life. And people definitely looked at me. They looked a lot.

I don’t know if it was the choice in lipstick or the brightness of the dress, but stares came and went. In a very unexpected twist to this narrative, I sort of reveled in the gawking. I was reminded of how far I’ve come since high school, when the thought of not wearing black or hiding beneath layers (even in summer) would’ve sent me into a panic. I stood my ground; just like the women on GoT would’ve.

Day 6: Lady Crane

Short-lived but no less spectacular for it, Lady Crane has been one of my favorite side-characters in Game Of Thrones’ history. Everything about her felt bohemian in the rawest sense of the word: Informal and unconventional. From the earliest scenes in which we see her, there is a different kind of strength to her. She’s more or less raised herself, choosing a life of the arts over a life at the court. She’s sex positive; she doesn’t take BS from the men around her; she’s even a little maternal. I had good feelings about trying to channel her.

Studio Lace Sleeve Dress, $119.90, ELOQUII; Multi-Bangle Cuff, $32.90, ELOQUII; Flared Chrystal Bracelet, $22.90, ELOQUII 

If the previous day was my least favorite sartorial moment, this day was one of the best. The dress I wore seemed to capture Lady Crane’s ease and fluidity of movement through the world while remaining sufficiently glam and eye-catching. An older man at Dunkin Donuts told me I looked like I’d stepped out of a fairytale (which is often my biggest sartorial goal, TBH). My mom complimented the look all day (a rarity when I wear such loose garments). And I just felt a lot freer than I had before embarking on this experiment.

Similarly to the effect the red Melisandre-inspired dress evoked in me, I felt much closer to my 21-year-old self in terms of sex drive. I also felt ready to take on just about anything. The balance between comfort and glamour was feeling more and more attainable; as was the balance between overt femininity and simultaneous empowerment.

Day 7: Mother Of Dragons

I wanted to end the experiment with a bang, so I opted for the riskiest look of all: Daenerys’ iconic cape dress. She’s long been fond of cape dresses, particularly while ruling in Meereen. And lucky me: I managed to find one that looked almost identical to that of the Mother Of Dragons. If there was ever a day to feel like a badass ruler of the world, this had to be it, right?

Studio Jersey Capelet Gown, $159.90, ELOQUII

The truth is, this was the most conflicting day of them all. On the one hand, capes are kind of impractical IRL. They can get stuck in things if you’re not careful, and a strong gust of wind might pose the risk of you blinding or choking you. They will also get you a lot of stares, especially in suburban New Jersey.

Most of this day was spent outside — walking through the park, getting some ice cream, sipping lattes. But when walking through the gardens of the fancy hotel in my town (because why not?), I definitely felt like I was putting on a show. Folks eating their brunches couldn’t avert their eyes, while passerby on the street gazed intensely and frequently as well.

One mother/daughter duo was the most obvious of them all. The daughter told me how cute I looked as she passed me by, only to tell her mother what a freak I was in Spanish seconds later — operating under the assumption that I couldn’t understand her.

But I did feel pretty rad. Would I wear this every day? Probably not. But some of Danny’s confidence definitely seeped through. I wasn’t remotely bothered by the attention I was receiving; which marked a change in some of the days prior. I simply remembered that it’s not up to any one person to make those around them feel comfortable. By that I mean that if strangers want to get upset at the sight of a fatty in a cape, or a fatty in a gladiator outfit, or a fatty happily living their life, it’s not my job to comfort them. And it’s certainly not my job to change for them.

So What Did I Learn?

I can always count on Game Of Thrones to make me ponder hard truths about humanity, and this experiment was no different. Throughout the week, I especially questioned my relationship to clothing — particularly how my fashion choices prior to this week were related to the anxiety I’d been feeling. I don’t think it’s a chicken or the egg situation in my case: The more anxious or depressed I’m feeling, the less likely I am to put effort into dressing up (something I genuinely find pleasure in when in positive head-spaces). But the less I dress up, the less like myself (myself without anxiety, that is) I feel. Evoking the powerful women on Game Of Thrones got me a little closer to feeling like the me I prefer to be.

This isn’t to say it was a cure-all for my mental health struggles. Nothing can be that. But I know that forcing myself to dress like women I’m inspired by added some extra happiness to my days. Not to mention that it resulted in some pretty good sex and overall body positivism from start to finish.

If you recreate such an experiment while simultaneously living in a fat or otherwise marginalized body, you can undoubtedly expect some judgment. People’s fat shaming is always on high when the fat people they come across are living loudly and boldly. But it was bearable because I was feeling good; I was feeling strong.

There’s truth to the notion of dressing for the job you want to have, or the version of yourself you want to be. There’s definitely truth to pushing your limits and comfort zone in the aid of self-empowerment. The main thing this experiment succeeded in was reminding me of that.

Images: Paddy McClave/Marie Southard Ospina (15); Giphy (11); HBO (1)