Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa, had hinted that she would be wearing armour for the first time in the latest Game Of Thrones episode and her fans weren’t disappointed. Looking stronger and more powerful than ever, Sansa looked striking in her all leather outfit. Be warned, this overview contains spoilers for previous seasons!
Costumes are never an afterthought on this show, and GoT’s costume designer Michele Clapton has been building Sansa up for this moment over the last eight seasons.
Sansa’s journey from naive princess in waiting to Lady of Winterfell has been a long one. And it is one that has been mapped with her clothes. Sansa, an expert seamstress from an early age designs and sews her own clothing – this means her costumes provide some of the best insights into how she is feeling and the people she is emulating as she learns the ropes of Westerosi-politics.
Scroll on to take a look at her transformation.
Season “1: It’s the only thing I ever wanted”
In Season One Sansa Stark is just a thirteen year old girl who dreams of marrying a handsome prince. As Septa Mordane’s star sewing pupil she is the best model for her own handiwork. The Starks of Winterfell are not flashy and even pretty gowns need to be able to serve practical purposes. In the first season Sansa dons a series of simple, modest garments in breathable fabrics. The Stark’s eldest daughter also favors blue, the colour of her mother’s house. She is often seen in soft Tully blue – her mother’s people are the lords of the Riverland’s and Sansa’s connections to her mother’s family play an important role in her survival during the later seasons.
Like her mother, Sansa wears her red hair long with small braids at the top. While her sister Arya gravitates towards their father Ned and prefers the company of her brothers, Sansa is a girl’s girl. She is happiest and most open with other women – particularly her mother Catelyn, but also Septa Mordane the girl’s tutor. When she arrives in King’s Landing Sansa gravitates to Cersei Lannister, hoping her glamorous girl-crush will also provide a substitute mother figure. While Cersei proves an incredibly disappointing mother figure throughout the series Sansa repeatedly turns to women for council and assistance over the seasons and forms far sounder female alliances as the seasons progress.
Season 2: “I Love The King With All My Heart”
Sansa is a conventional feudal Princess. She was raised to expect an arranged marriage that would benefit her family, and was delighted by the prospect of one day becoming queen. As the eldest daughter of a noble household she was taught skills that would befit a wife. While her younger sister was allowed to play at swords, Sansa’s focus was on sewing, social pleasantries, playing music and running a household. She learnt at her mother Catelyn’s knee and was ill prepared for becoming a political hostage when the Lannister’s executed her father and declared war on her family. This is the situation she finds herself in in Season Two.
Sansa’s wardrobe in Season Two reflects her absorption into the Lannister clan. While she is a political prisoner she is also betrothed to King Joffrey. As a potential Queen-to-be she is kept in opulent captivity – her captors hope to execute her remaining family and claim Winterfell through her heirs. Her wardrobe features sunset tones, a washed out Lannister red, and a greater array of jewels. Like the Queen her hair is more intricate than in the first season. Indeed, if her wardrobe is anything to go by it is safe to assume Sansa keeps as close an eye on her captors as they do on her. Sansa has a habit of taking on the appearance and characteristics of the characters she is closest to – in the first season this was her mother but in this season she spends most of her time under Cersei’s tutelage. A practical woman Cersei devotes as much time as she can to preparing Sansa for the harsher realities of Queenship. Their relationship, and the insights it provides into the fate of noble women, is one of the most interesting of the second season.
Season 3-4: A Rose Amongst Thorns
In Seasons Three and Four Sansa’s status at court shifts. The Lannister alliance with the wealthy and influential Tyrell family sees Margaery Tyrell take Sansa’s place as Joffrey’s betrothed. Sansa’s status as an unmarried eligible bachelorette means she becomes a desirable chess piece in Lannister and Tyrell political games.
As Cersei no longer has use for her she begins to spend more time with Joffrey’s new intended Margaery . Older and more sophisticated Margaery Tyrell does her best to help Sansa. The two share information about the King and form an unlikely friendship. When Sansa is devastated to be betrothed to Joffrey’s uncle Tyrion Lannister Margery educates her in the ways of men and making the best of bad marriages. Sansa’s alliance with Margaery is critical – Margaery is able to advocate for her at court and unwittingly Sansa plays an important role in the Tyrell’s plots against the Lannisters. Sansa’s friendship with Margaery – a sophisticated political player in the King’s court demonstrates her developing ability to form strategic alliances and to find allies in unlikely places.
Sansa’s clothing becomes more ladylike and she adopts the rich fabrics favored by the Tyrrel contingent and wears her hair in elaborate braided structures like Margaery. When she is married against her will to the King’s uncle Tyrion Lannister – despite Margaery’s efforts to have her married to Margaery’s brother Loras Tyrel she also begins to learn from her husband – another adept political operator and her clothing becomes heavier and and more modest as a married member of the royal family. Despite this she is rarely seen in Lannister red – instead she favors subdued purples and violets. The murder of her brother, his unborn heir and her mother by the Lannister’s at the Frey wedding means Sansa believes she is the sole Stark survivor and the rightful heir to Winterfell. While she is more enmeshed in the Lannister family than ever on the surface the murder of her brothers transforms her – she is now heir to the North.
Season 4-5: Alayne Stone
Sansa’s status as heir to Winterfell makes her a far more desireable chess piece. Petyr Baelish helps her escape from the Lannister’s but hopes to wed her, either to his wife’s son and her first cousin Robyn, or Sansa begins to suspect, to himself. In this season Sansa learns that that everybody wants something from her. Littlefinger and her aunt rescue her only to serve their own purposes. She is implicated in the murder of Joffrey Lannister and once again finds herself in the care of adults she cannot trust. Instructed to pretend that she is Littlefinger’s bastard niece and she dyes her hair dark so as not to attract suspicion. Sansa’s outfits in this season hint at things to come. She has erased her painful history and dresses in all black. She is also learning from one of the most dangerous political operators in the country. Whilst she is free of the Lannister’s, as symbolized by the feathers that stretch out from her garments like wings – she is pushed further into a world of secrets in lies. During season four Sansa learns more about her mother’s side of the family through her aunt Lysa, and the role they had in the start of the war. She begins to spread her political wings and learn the tricks of the trade – the risk posed being that she becomes as much a shady operator as Littlefinger himself.
Season Five: “I am Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home. And you cannot frighten me.”
Sansa returns to Winterfell when Littlefinger arranges her marriage to Roose Bolton’s illegitimate son Ramsey Snow. Roose Bolton has replaced Sansa’s father as Warden of the North, a deal he cut with Tywin Lannister for his role in the betrayal of the Stark’s. His son Ramsay is cruel and demented as his father is callous and unfeeling. The Bolton’s hope to legitimize their claim on Winterfell with Sansa and Ramsay’s heir.
Sansa’s position as Lady of Winterfell is restored but she suffers cruelty and violence at Ramsey’s hands. However the people in the North remain loyal to her. Through her marriage she is reunited with Theon Greyjoy, the man who she believes murdered her younger brothers. Theon has been a captive of Ramsay’s for a long time. She colludes with Theon Greyjoy who helps her escape – repayment for his betrayal of her brother’s in the first season. Her pure white wedding gown reflects strength she draws from her ancestral seat and the purity of her Northern roots. It also symbolizes the hope she represents to her Northern subjects. This hope is exemplified when she is able to restore Theon’s loyalty to the Starks, a coup that saves both of their lives.
We can also see in Sansa’s wedding dress that the fragile black bird feathers have been exchanged for heavy white fur. The white fur symbolizes the bridal cape Westerosi women are draped in on their wedding day – the bridal cloak is emblazoned with the sigil of their husband’s house to indicate that the bride has passed from her families’ protection to her husband’s. Sansa wears the fur of a wolf on her wedding day – it indicates she expects no protection from her husband, but instead is cloaking herself with the power of the Stark family, reconnecting with her roots and the brave and ferocious direwolf spirit she has been estranged from since the first season. As she tells Ramsay’s violent mistress on the eve of her wedding, “I am Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home. And you cannot frighten me.”
Season 6: “No one can protect me, no one can protect anyone.”
Theon Greyjoy conspires with Sansa to escape. The success of their plot proves disastrous for Ramsey, Sansa joins forces with her half-brother John Snow and advises him on Ramsey’s weak spots as they approach a battle. At the last minute Sansa outwits both Ramsay and her own brother, successfully rallying the people of the Eyrie through her connection with her mother’s side of the family. Sansa’s brother John promises her his protection. She tells him that nobody can protect her. In this season we see the extent to which Sansa is now able to assess the shortcomings of those who would offer her safety. Instead of trusting her brother’s battle plan she accurately surmises that he underestimating her husband Ramsay. Instead of waiting helpless to see whether she will be returned to her husband or saved by her brother she goes behind the backs of brother and his advisors. She reaches out to Littlefinger her erstwhile ally. Unlike the Stark’s who have spent seasons dying on points of honor, Sansa is able to hide her feelings. Like her alliance with Theon, a person who betrayed her family, or Margaery Tyrell, the woman who replaced her at court Sansa is able to see beyond pride to the necessities of a situation.
She despises Littlefinger for selling her to the Bolton’s but understands that he can be valuable to her. By swallowing her pride and concealing her contempt for him she saves her family and destroys her enemies.
Sansa’s costume during the Battle of the Bastards is similar to her mother Catelyn’s. She wears her hair down and in a casual braid – far more battle ready than the intricate hair styling seen in previous seasons. She has the Stark direwolf emblazoned on her chest but it is her connections on her mother’s side that inspires loyalty in the people of the Eyrie, and provides the Stark’s with a last minute victory.
Season 8: Ready for War
Sophie Turner was delighted by Sansa’s battle-ready outfit. After playing the lady for so many years Sansa has stepped into her own wearing a hyper glam version of the leather armor donned by her father and brothers. She is also asserting herself as a leader against her brother’s love interest, Daenery’s Targaryen. As lady of Winterfell she is expected to defer to the reigning Queen, however Daenery’s lacks an understanding of the Northern people and Sansa is wary of her motives and influence.
In this final season Sansa has transformed from wan rich girl to force to be reckoned with. We will have our finger’s crossed for her when the White Walkers storm Winterfell tonight!