Outlander Costume Recap: Season 3, Episode 5 – “Freedom & Whisky”


Standard “there are no spoilers in history” warnings apply, here. However, since there are spoilers in fictional shows, there are, in fact, spoilers discussed at great length within this post. Kindly avert your gaze, if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing. Otherwise, come with me as I delve into this week’s installment of Outlander.

This is the episode with THE PRINT SHOP SCENE, so naturally, we had to bump a regularly scheduled Man Candy Monday to address the momentous occasion. Sadly, this episode is one giant tease, since we get approximately 5 minutes at the very end of Claire wandering the streets of 1766 Edinburgh, heart in her throat, before the show is over and we have to wait until next-freaking-week to get some proper costume content. Also, some proper Claire-and-Jamie shmoopiness.

Anyway. What this episode did deliver was a major deviation from the novel. In the novel Voyager, Claire purchases a dress to wear for her time traveling, from a certain “Jessica Gutenberg.” Based on the description in the book, the dress is more or less a late-’60s Jessica McClintock/Gunne Sax prairie dress, complete with zipper. I, for one, was really holding out hope that we’d get some obnoxious calico-and-lace concoction on Claire, because I have a serious soft-spot for vintage Gunne Sax. Also, it would be, like, the one time in all of cinematic history, where a blatantly, obviously historically inaccurate dress would be SO APPROPRIATE.

Jessica McClintock

Also known as My First Ren Faire DressTM.

Alas, the show’s costume designer, Terry Dresbach, dashed my hopes. But she did so in a way that I can’t help but feel is a nod to the historical costuming community, and once I got over my sadness at being deprived of a “Jessica Gutenberg” dress, I was tickled by the change.

2014- Outlander

Claire does the research. That’s why we like her.

Claire converts a coat into a very attractive riding habit, sewing the whole thing on her sewing machine (because homegirl is on a mission and ain’t got no time for hand sewing). I mean, let’s be real. Show Claire (as opposed to Book Claire) would absolutely not half-ass something as important as the dress she is going to wear when she reunites with Jamie. So, even while I was sad that we didn’t get any Summer of Love realness going on, I really appreciated the change in script.

The Great Gatsby 2013

Nicely done, Outlander.

2014- Outlander

Not too shabby, for an old coat! It also reminds me of the riding habit Claire wore in Season 2.

2014- Outlander

Claire rounds the outfit out with a very 1960s-meets-1760s wool capelet.

And that, my friends, is basically all the 18th-century costume content you get in this episode. We’re going to have to wait until next week to get both the 18th-century clothing fix and the Jamie and Claire fix we’ve all been dyyyyying for.


In the meantime, what did you think of the sewing montage in this episode? Share your thoughts in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

26 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    I really loved the episode, no shagging withstanding because of the Mother-Daughter bonding and Roger watching Dark Shadows & Batman references. I also liked the research scenes and the page displayed with the pattern laid out reminded me of Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion.

    • Flora A.

      I about came out of my seat when Dark Shadows came on. Back in the day I whined, sulked and pouted until I got an Inverness coat for my birthday — and God alone knows where my mom found it in Amarillo, Texas!

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Maybe she got it at Foleys. For me it was Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet.

        I lived in Houston as a child. I remember dragging my parents to the exhibition the downtown store had when Nicholas & Alexandra came out.

  2. Gail

    I said to myself “a Singer Touch n Sew” machine! What I liked best, costuming wise, were the costume nods before Claire sat down with what looked like Norah Waugh … Brianna’s plaid cape (a nod to Scotland/Jamie, and her late 60s ruffle/lace blouse … which we know ahead of time that Claire is just going to have to ‘borrow.’
    But wow, Claire does seem to have some great drafting/sewing skills …. wonder who taught her those? Did Uncle Lam teach a Home Ec class as well?
    Loved the sequence.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      Always felt it had to do with her surgeon’s skills. Precise, accurate & an eye for adjustments. But your theory has a great deal of merit. 😇

  3. broughps

    I wouldn’t call that the Print Shop scene. That’ll be next week. And it will be 75 minutes of goodness.

    Terry tweeted throughout the ep while it aired and had some interesting things to say. Bree’s cape and blouse (together) were nods to Jamie. Terry was also pleased that you could see the machine sewn hems and one sleeve was slightly longer than the other. All things an amateur sewer in a hurry would/might do. Also for those of us disappointed there was no zipper dress for Jamie to be surprised at, there is a zipper coming. You can see it in the previews for next week.

    Because of all the pockets, hidden and otherwise Claire’s 18th century outfit became known on set as the Bat suit as per RDM. Hence the Batman theme while she was sewing it.

  4. Alexis Michael

    We’ll have to wait TWO weeks, actually. I only hope that the promotions department will be milking the anticipation for all its worth!

    • Sarah Lorraine

      Ugh. WHY??? This is why I almost never watch shows as they air, because the networks like to play silly buggers with air dates. I’d much rather binge watch, but since Outlander is such a HUGE deal, I’m watching it as it airs and now I’m all emotionally invested. :P

  5. Jacinta Green

    I don’t love Brianna but I LOVED the cape and tights combo she wore to her father’s ceremony. I also love that going through the stones caused Claire to de-age ;)

  6. Nellie Kampmann

    At first I was thinking, “She went from making kid’s Halloween costumes to drafting her own 18th century outfit? That’s a bit of a jump.” Then it occurred to me that she may have had some exposure to that while she was living in the 1700s previously. Considering that she spent part of those 3 years living in the lap of luxury in France with others undoubtedly making her clothes for her, it still seems like a bit of a stretch. Even with the goofs, it’s a darn good job by a beginner.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      She was born in what, 1922 or something? Definitely during a period of time when girls were taught sewing as part of their basic school curriculum, both in the UK and in the US. Then she spent 3 years in the 18th-century, two of which weren’t in the lap of luxury, and probably had to deal with the mending and sewing of clothing to a certain degree. She obviously knew enough sewing to make Bree’s Halloween costumes, as she says in the episode when Bree and Roger express disbelief that she intends to sew her own clothes.

      I don’t think it’s that far fetched for her to know how to put together an outfit; it’s just that sewing was never mentioned as one of her skills until this episode, so I do see how it can feel a little like “WTF, suddenly she knows how to sew??”

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I prefer the fact that she sews the clothes to getting a Gunne Sax dress. I too had one. It was Cami top/shirt ensemble from them. And mine was definitely more Edwardian than Ren faire or Georgian.

        And I agree that she would have known how to sew in and would have definitely made Bree’s Halloween costume & Xmas programme ones.

        She ‘sews’ up patients, too. 😁

      • Emily

        I think she would’ve come to sewing in the 1940s when she comes back. I don’t think Uncle Lamb would’ve taught her how to sew.
        Claire is competent at household stuff throughout the whole book series, but it’s not her “thing”, and when she can get help, she gets it. But yeah, I can see her learning to sew via the school of hard knocks, trying to make Brianna costumes and eventually picking up enough skills to do it. And yeah, I agree with the idea that she would’ve seen Jenny, etc. making clothes for people.

      • Marietta Greene

        thank you for that date. My TD husband caught the book prop and asked if they had been published before ’68 (he recognized it from previous life as a cutter/draper) – mine are in a box somewhere, and i wasnt in the mood to dig LOL

  7. Jill

    I’m just in a state of complete empathic awe and nausea at your vintage Gunne Sax dress. Didn’t we all have those? And didn’t we think we looked ravishing?

    I guess I hope Claire doesn’t get forced into a seamstress career back in the 18th century when they see how beautifully even and regular the stitches on her clothing are…

  8. Lynne

    My bridesmaids wore Gunne Sax dresses! I guess that makes me vintage, too.
    Hard to imagine that a surgeon would have time to make that entire elaborate outfit–couldn’t she afford to hire someone?–but, maybe . . . I preferred the book version, where Jamie meets his first zipper. My question is, do they have her in a corset as well? In the book, the whole thing comes off in one fell swoop.

    • Emily

      I actually just checked the scene in book, and the only thing she’s wearing are “shoes and gartered rose-silk stockings.” So the show is giving her the undergarments that she doesn’t have, in the books, in what we can see from the previews.

  9. Isis

    I remember feeling a bit annoyed when I read the book, and Claire buys something half-assed. Just because I felt she ought to be able to sew something herself. She was born in a generation of woman who were taught to sew, she had lived through WWII where Brittish women relied heavily on their ability to sew their own clothes, AND she lived for three years in the 18th century, so she ought to have picked up enough sewing skill related to the clothes of the time. So I liked this change!

    I have loved Claire’s story in these first episodes. Tobias Menzies is a great actor, and it was heartbreaking to see Claire and Frank trying and failing to have a working marriage. I admit my memories are hazy, as I read teh books more than 20 years ago, but in the book it felt like Frank was suddenly made into a bad guy, to justify Claire’s longing for Jamie, so I was very happy they didn’t do that in the show.

    Alas I didn’t find Jamie’s storyline the least bit compelling…