Daenerys Targaryen on a Budget

So, this time last year I was preparing to go to Nine Worlds and cosplaying Daenerys in her Qarth Dress. I bought a wig, a blue dress, a bronzy horn necklace I got from New Look in the sale, and painted a belt gold. The result was this:

Me being a sunburnt Daenerys, shortly after reaching Qarth.

Me being a sunburnt Daenerys, shortly after reaching Qarth.

Which was OK, but not awesome. Besides which, the belt I got from eBay was cheapass plastic and is basically stretched out around the buckle and unwearable now. Not to mention that I also wore the wig for Halloween and got caught in a rainstorm, which kind of tangled it up.

Now, a mate of mine actually bought me a proper kickass Daenerys-filigree-gold-belt from Etsy for my birthday, so that is going together with a new dress in the same style as this, but closer to the right colour, and (if it arrives on time) a better wig (bought with birthday money). But before I knew that was going to happen, I had started on my new costume, based on some of Daenerys’s more practical garb.

What I’m aiming for, this time, is Daenerys’s Stomping Around in the Desert  over-trousers crossover dress.

Daenerys Targaryen, stomping down her lines of men.The kind of dress you take a city in, basically.

There are actually a number of different versions of this dress. Those that are this dress, but with increasingly more embroidery suggestive of dragonscales. A posher, paler version that she wears with the white pleated skirt, and the one she wears when she’s crowdsurfing brown people with the leather crossover bit (which I definitely did not want). I was going for the one pictured right.

You can actually buy really plain versions of this dress for upwards of £70 on eBay, but a) I don’t have that kind of money; b) they don’t look that great, or that accurate for the money; and c) it’s kind of more fun to make/put to gether your own, rather than just buy the whole thing. So, I wanted to give it a go.

And, let me tell you, I scowered eBay for a dress either a bit like this, or that I could make look like this. No luck. None at all. In the end, in the very last charity shop a friend and I visited costume hunting, I found an A-line white linnen skirt and a white stretch cotton v-neck top that I felt I could work with (about £7 for both).

My new Daenerys costume

Sorry for the cruddy quality of the photos. Most of the light in my house comes from above, making good photos super hard.

I dyed them blue (£5 Dylon Ocean Blue from Amazon). Colour worked out more sky blue than ‘ocean blue’, but it was remarkably consistent. I took the skirt and cut one side to match Daenerys’s skirt-chap thing, flipped the cut cloth, trimmed it to shape, and sewed it back on, with what had been the bottom at the top. I also used remaining fabric to cover up the white thread that hadn’t dyed properly.

I then cut the sleeves off the v-neck top and sewed in shoulder pads  (mine came from another top I had that didn’t really need them, but you can get them cheap from most sewing/haberdashery stores/eBay). With the left over fabric from the sleeves, I used the same American arrow smocking used on Daenery’s dress to add scale-like texture. With more time and better materials (say, a non-stretch fabric) I could have done a lot more, and with a better finish, but it could be worse.

A close-up on the shoulder beading.I then added some beading to mirror the beading on Daenerys’s dress. The beads and sequins were left-over from a Christmas card-making kit I got from PoundLand.

Had I but world enough and time I would have done loads more beading and embroidery (I bought some gold-coloured thread for about £2), but I really don’t. So I used gold glitter fabric paint I got from Hobby Craft for £3.50 to echo some of the gold embroidery in Daenerys’s dress. I know, gold glitter isn’t really as subtle as her embroidery, but pfft!

a close-up shot of Danerys's hair when she's feeding her dragons in QarthThen, of course, there’s the wig. Now, I’m using the same wig as last year, which cost about £17.50 (I wish I could remember the brand!) but I wasn’t going to be able to do any of half-ponytail braiding Daenerys usually favours as the really long synthetic hair had become hopelessly tangled and lost its crisp curls in brushing. So, instead, I went for one of the few styles she uses where her whole head of hair gets braided back. This also had the advantage of making the bulkiness of the wig look more natural. She wears this in Qarth, but only when she’s ‘dressed down’. This is clearly a practical do for her. So I think it goes with the Stompy Dress.

Left side Daenerys wig.There are five intrgrated brais, here. Two simple braids drawn back from the top of the head and then woven together at the back. Then two chunkier French braids taking up the rest of her hair at the side of her head, and then woven together to become one big braid at the back.

Now, you’ll note that I went for French braiding rather than the reverse French braiding the original style uses. This is simply because of how tough the hair was to work with. I spent hours brushing this thing, even adding leave-in conditioner to loosen up the synthetic fibers, it was just very difficult to work with, and I think this looks good enough.

Daenerys wig right side.There are also a few other changes.

Firstly, the top braids are much higher up. Again, this is because of the limitations of the wig, which has a kind of layered thing going on. Basically, the hair at the top is just too short to be brought any lower and still be integrated at the back.

Secondly, I had to let a few strands hang down the side of the face to disguide the edge of the wig. Similarly, the wig came with a fringe (it hadn’t looked like it did in the picture, but that’s what happens when you buy online).

I also managed to recurl those strands by putting them in rollers, dipping them in hot water, and leaving them overnight to dry – quite impressed with the result!

Daenerys wig from the back.Oh yeah, and grey leggings, which I already had. Basically any plain/dust-coloured trousers would do. It’s not the best Daenerys costume ever, but (including the wig, which I spent b’day money on), it cost me about £35; £37 if you include the necklace I had from last year. Which is half the price of those boring-ass ones you can buy on eBay, and the ‘dress’ part only cost me £17 itself 🙂

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43 Responses to Daenerys Targaryen on a Budget

  1. Heath Graham says:

    Brilliant. The wig looks amazing! 😀

    Have an awesome time at Nine Worlds. 🙂

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