Game of Thrones Costumes: Blood, Dirt and Nudity

Game of Thrones photo courtesy HBO

photo courtesy HBO

Game of Thrones costumes transform the gigantic cast into clear and recognizable characters. Based on George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones is filled with intrigue and scandal as nine families fight for control of Westeros.  There are sword fights, dragons, a lot of blood, even more nudity, and fans have learned to never get too attached to a character (in fact, you can pay George R. R. Martin to write you into a book and then kill you off!).  Game of Thrones costumes are just as interesting as the storyline, and like Mad Men, the  designers put a lot of thought into the costumes, with elements of costumes reflecting the sigils of the families, personalities of characters– and how their daily life affects them. What does Michele Clapton, Game of Thrones’ costumer and Emmy award nominee for Costume Design, have to deal with (besides dragon breath and dogs that are as big as wolves)?  Blood, dirt, and nudity.

Use of Blood in Game of Thrones Costumes

Blood is a huge component in Game of Thrones.  Emilia Clark, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, is said to have had so much stage blood on her at one point that she got stuck to a toilet seat during a break.  I can only guess how many gallons of stage blood were used in the “Red Wedding” episode from season 3 or in the head squishing of Oberyn Martell in season 4. I do not know what kind of stage blood they use on Game of Thrones but a brand that I like to use is Reel Blood by Reel Creations. Reel Blood Original has long been a favorite of costumers because of its washability, and it shows up beautifully in both photographs and HD.  It comes in multiple varieties too: Lung Blood is  the bright color of oxygenated blood from the lungs. It is formulated for dark skin, dark clothing or dark surfaces so that it will show up on screen. Aged blood is a darker shade than the original formula. It still flows but is beginning to turn brown like it’s been sitting around a bit longer.  Reel Thick Blood in Aged and Fresh formulas is a jam /jelly type blood that is used for a 3D effect. Reel Blood comes in sizes from .5 oz all the way up to 128 oz– that should last for at least a minute of the Red Wedding!

Reel Blood by Manhattan Wardrobe supply for use in Game of Thrones Costumes

Use of Grime in Game of Thrones Costumes

Dirt is almost as prevalent as blood. Whether it’s dirt from falling off a horse to costumes that reflect the work of the character, there is a lot of distressing of costumes on Game of Thrones. While the old theatre school tricks of tea-aging and fading with peroxide are still utilized, there are some more advanced techniques and products that simplify distressing. Our favorites are Schmere Crayons and Powders. These pre-formulated, easy-to-use products allow you to easily add dirt, sweat stains, aging, rot, grass– all sorts of effects– with just a few swipes of a stick or brush of powder.  You can also purchase distressing kits that include everything you need to make your costumes look worn, dirty, and tired, including pounce bags, stipple sponges, L.S. Dirt (which instantly makes people look grimy), Liquid Earth aging pigments and more.

Real Creations L.S. Dirt by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply  for use in Game of Thrones CostumesWoodland Scenics Liquid Earth by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply  for use in Game of Thrones CostumesSchmere Crayons by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply  for use in Game of Thrones CostumesSchmere Powder by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply  for use in Game of Thrones CostumesMWS Distressing Kit #4 by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply  for use in Game of Thrones Costumes

Use of Nudity in Game of Thrones Costumes

Nudity is more of a costume than one might think, and harder to pull off than just– well, pulling off clothing! Not only does the actor or actress have to look good, they have to feel comfortable both in front of the camera and in between scenes.  In Game of Thrones, the nudity is full-frontal, but if your project calls for a little more modesty, there are many options to give the illusion of nudity.  If you have a scene with nudity from the side, but you’d like to maintain modesty, try  Shibue Strapless Panties, which preserve your modesty but have zero panty lines.  Do you want the illusion of toplessness without revealing too much? Bring It Up’s Smooth and Lift nipple covers do a great job of creating that illusion (as well as some lift!).  Commando Tiny Thongs are more comfortable than G-strings, but still have a small, easy-to-shoot-around footprint.

Commando Thongs by Manhattan Wardrobe SupplyShibue Couture Strapless Panties by Manhattan Wardrobe Supply


You can use these tricks and products for your own productions, or even just your next Game of Thrones watch party or Game of Thrones Halloween costume.   Remember, you can buy any of these products at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply.