We’ll be recapping every episode of Outlander this season, both in blog post AND podcast. This time it’s just Kendra for the blog post, and as usual, I’ll be focusing mostly on the costumes — designed by Terry Dresbach. However…
We have a very special guest on this podcast! Brenna Barks, a fashion historian who specializes in Scotland and who wrote our fabulous review of the men’s costumes in season 1. Brenna joins me to discuss Scottish history, Outlander, and episode 4 on our podcast, which you can find at the bottom of this post, or on iTunes!
For those who aren’t regular Frock Flicks readers: this blog and podcast is all about costumes in historical movies and TV shows, and we approach things from the angle of history. So, expect us to be talking about the costumes primarily from the point of view of comparison with the real history of the 1740s. We’ll also talk about costume in terms of story, and the deviations that come with this one having the fantasy element of time travel. But, know that when we talk about that dreaded phrase “historical accuracy,” we’re not doing it to be mean or judgy. It’s just one lens through which to watch this fabulous show.
We begin with yet another chess game between Jamie and Duvernay at Versailles:
Duvernay is wearing a lovely shade of grass green silk satin, and he’s back in his long, “full bottomed” wig.
Jamie is sticking with his black silk satin frock coat, and his hair is looking sad.
Claire’s brown dress has gold and turquoise trim — the turquoise really doesn’t read as 18th century, but it does pair well with the brown. The sheer ruffled stomacher and petticoat are a little weird too, but I’ll deal.
It IS weird that Claire’s trim doesn’t go along the back of the neck, which is de rigeur. The Comte Saint Germain, on the other hand, is rocking some lovely blue patterned fabrics in both his frock coat and waistcoat!
I’m sorry Claire got poisoned, but I’m very happy to see the Comte. rrRRRrrr.
Random extras in back-closing gowns, this one with clunky boning.
Claire gets poisoned, but with something that just hurts for a bit and won’t actually kill her — and the culprit is probably the Comte Saint German. Back at home, Claire recovers. This whole plot thread reminds me of the “affair of the poisons,” a big scandal that happened in the late 17th century (read more about it at Wikipedia).
We get a lovely view of Jamie’s waistcoat, which is silver with delicate black embroidery. Is it quilted, or is that just a pattern? Either way, thumbs up!
The back of his waistcoat is nice too. The plainer fabric and back lacing is accurate — the lacing made your waistcoat adjustable (slightly bigger or smaller? no problem!), and both are hidden when you’re wearing a coat.
Claire doesn’t feel so good.
Claire heads off to Maitre Raymond’s to confront him about potentially selling the poison to the Comte (likely).
Claire wears a hooded jacket that’s made of electric blue silk with a magenta (printed?) pattern. The petticoat is in a solid silk that coordinates well when she’s outside…
But when she’s inside and the lighting changes, the two don’t mesh quite as well. Also, that magenta dye is waaaaay bright for the 18th century — try 1860s or later aniline dyes.
I think the stronger floral pattern along the jacket and hood edges is embroidered?
We finally get a decent shot of Maitre Raymond’s servant. This cross-over fichu is very appropriate.
Claire goes to visit bestie Louise, who confides in Claire that she’s pregnant — but not with her husband’s child.
They’re doing a great job of differentiating characters while still sticking to an 18th century aesthetic, even if not every little detail is accurate to a T. Mary is sweet and pure: white, delicate floral fabric; sweet jacket; lots of coverage through her cap and fichu and mitts. Louise is luxe and sensual: sensuous satin fabric, lots of frilly trims. Claire is elegant and practical: dark fabric, minimal trim.
Mary’s cap is all English, all 1740s, and works perfectly to make her look like Little Miss Sweet.
I got excited that Mary’s jacket is a real pet-en-l’air, the hip-length, jacket version of the robe à la française (aka sack gown)… except that then I spotted that the back pleats are cut separate from the jacket itself, which makes it another piémontaise and about 30-40 years too early. Minor quibble.
Claire: back-lacing. Sigh.
The center front of Claire’s dress has a vertical cut that is reminiscent of The Red Dress (from her first trip to Versailles in episode 2).
Louise’s dress trimming is nice! They’ve used a bronze and blue fabric, where the blue matches the solid blue of the gown. Also, great jewelry.
Back at Chez Fraser, Jamie comes home with bite marks on his upper thighs and stories of almost 69ing with prostitutes. Claire is pissed, and I am team Claire… except that Jamie is getting over a horrible, brutal rape, and while I get that Claire is trying to get Jamie to communicate with/lean on her, I think she could be a lot more understanding of what he’s going through.
Jamie spends this fight in his shirt, and they are careful to always frame him so we don’t see any bonus bits.
Jamie and Claire shag (FINALLY!), then hear someone on the roof. Jamie is ready to cut a bitch, when they discover its Bonnie Prince Charlie, who has been bitten by his lover’s monkey. Claire figures out that Louise’s baby daddy is BPC!
Claire is getting a lot of wear out of her dressing gown.
BPC’s silver waistcoat with silver embroidery is nice, although hard to see. His hair, however… drowned rat much?
A week later, Claire and Jamie are about to host an important dinner party at which they plan to blow up Prince Charles’s relationship with Sandringham. But beforehand, Claire has to go to the hospital as there’s been some major disaster. Mary goes along to assist, while Murtagh and Fergus escort them.
Claire’s Brunswick — a German-inspired, hooded, jacket version of the robe à la française that was worn for traveling and other practical moments. It has an actual, proper française back! It has fabulous ruched self-fabric trim! It has matching mitts! It’s my favorite outfit so far this season, just because it’s A++ spot-on historically accurate AND pretty.
Here’s a real Brunswick jacket: Brunswick, 1765-75, France, Victoria & Albert Museum.
And the same jacket from the back.
Ruches! Matching ribbon choker!
Fergus has a nice, class-appropriate suit… but no hat.
More of a working-class look. Also, Fergus is wise.
Murtagh’s outfit is also class-appropriate — nubby wool, leather or suede (?) for the collars and cuffs, earthy colors.
Murtagh is, of course, wearing a kilt. Also, no hat!
Inside, Claire does some gross bone resetting while wearing a sleeveless bodice over her shift, worn with sleeves rolled up. And another pinned-on apron!
Mother Hildegarde rocking the habit.
Outside, the carriage’s wheel has broken… how, when it was just parked outside? Claire decides they will walk home. There aren’t hackney carriages in Paris? They have to hurry because she has to get home for The Dinner — but then are shown strolling. Huh?
LOOK! A PROPER, PLEATED FRANÇAISE BACK! SO HAPPY!
I didn’t love Mary’s outfit, mostly on an aesthetic level. It’s perfectly appropriate to her character. I think it’s the cream lace? Blue linen? The lace under the bodice center front straps? Not sure. I did like that we get a rare glimpse of pleated cuffs, which are much more appropriate to the 1740s than the engageantes (sleeve ruffles) that we’re seeing on most other costumes. I also liked her cute hat with the turned-up back.
Detail of the kind of pleated sleeve cuffs that are more typical of the 1740s. Robe Volante, c. 1720, France, Kyoto Costume Institute.
More cream lace at Mary’s jacket hem. Murtagh: still no hat?
Chez Fraser, Jamie has to welcome all the dinner party guests on his own.
Jamie is sticking with his black silk satin frock coat and embroidered black and white waistcoat. Which is fine by me, because it’s so beautiful.
Everyone turns up:
Alexander Randall and the Duke of Sandringham.
Sandringham’s outfit is subtle, including the pattern on his waistcoat. Possibly because he’s so subtle about espionage?
Mary’s fiancé (poor dear) in green wool, and some other guy.
A random couple. I feel like her bodice waistline, and the skirt opening, are clunky.
More random guests. LOVE her green, and all the lace — including a fashion apron, which seems more 1770s-80s, but no big deal.
Bonnie Prince Charlie in a muted purple velvet, with blue waistcoat.
Claire and company are hours late to the dinner — because they are attacked while en route. Poor Mary gets raped. The attackers suddenly start calling Claire “La Dame Blanche” and take off, clearly afraid of her.
Back at chez Fraser, Sandringham is a dolt and invited the Comte and Comtesse Saint Germain.
The Comte — gold silk satin with matching embroidery for the coat, black with gold embroidery for the waistcoat. Yes! The comtesse — kind of disappointing? I like the silver lace, but the apron drape is too short aesthetically. And really — a countess wearing a jacket to a formal dinner? I get that she’s a background character, plot-wise, but she’s a countess!
From the waist up, the countess looks good. But who cares, because COMTE SAINT GERMAIN FTW.
Another rando in gorgeous blue silk taffeta.
Louise de Rohan and Mr. Rohan. Louise’s dress is faaaaabulous — red and gold! Her husband’s outfit is really great too — love the velvet, and particularly love the gold trim with tassels!
Louise is clearly the focal female in this scene. Love Mr. Rohan’s fur trim on his collar and cuffs! That, with the tassels, makes his outfit seem a little bit German or Turkish (in a good way).
Claire and company finally show up. Poor Mary is sent to bed, with Alexander Randall to watch over her (the two are in love). Claire changes and heads in to dinner, despite Jamie’s offer to cancel things.
Claire has great earrings. The necklace is something Maitre Raymond gave her as protection — it changes color in the presence of poison.
Claire’s dress is a dark red. She’s sticking with her pared-down, elegant style. She’s also sticking with her very masquerade/posing gown wide, loose sleeves.
Louise has yet more great froof around her neck.
During dinner, Claire and Jamie’s plan to set up BPC by announcing Louise’s pregnancy — she managed to convince her husband that it’s his — at dinner seems to be going well. BPC is being sulky and it looks like things might blow up as Claire & Jamie hope…
Bonnie Prince Chuckie is wearing another great wig!
Claire’s dress has back lacing again. Sigh.
Except — Mary wakes up, sees Alex and freaks out, goes running out into the house with Alex trying to calm her… but he ends up on top of her in a compromising position. All the guests rush in and most assume Alex is trying to rape Mary. A completely random melée ensues, during which various random male party guests try to beat up Alex and then Jamie and Murtagh as they leap to the rescue. Jamie and Murtagh win, of course. The Comte lurks ominously, then sends for the guards.
Both Chuckie and Saint Germain have GREAT wigs!
Which costumes did you love this time around? Did anything give you an eye twitch?
Outlander Season Two, Episode Four, Podcast Recap
Listen to Kendra discuss episode 4 with fashion historian Brenna Barks in our podcast recap of the episode, here or on iTunes!
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