Catching Up to Outlander Season 4, Episodes 1-3


Outlander season 4 (2018) is upon us, and I’m doing everyone a solid by watching/covering it for Frock Flicks. We’re back with 1940s-60s Claire, who has time traveled to 1740s-60s Scotland, and, now, the American colonies. At the end of season 3, she and her Scottish husband/hunk Jamie were shipwrecked in Georgia. Season 4 starts with them in North Carolina, starting a new life.

I’m not really in the mood right now to watch a perfect couple be perfectly in love, but luckily things aren’t going perfectly smoothly for Jamie and Claire, so thanks for that, Diana Gabaldon!

The costumes are very much in line with what we’ve seen in previous seasons — no major deviations. This is the last season to be designed by Terry Dresbach; I did notice another costume designer mentioned (along with Terry) in the credits, but didn’t catch the name. I wonder if that will be season 5’s main designer? As far as I know, the season 5 designer hasn’t been announced yet.

(Note: We also have daughter Brianna and potential boyfriend Roger stressing about Life in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but I’m not going to talk about those costumes, because while they’re cute, they’re not that exciting).

Here’s my thoughts on specific costumes (and hair), join in in the comments!

Outlander season 4

Jamie’s leather coat. I mean … I’m not going to say this is totally implausible, I’m just going to say it’s very “18th-century biker jacket.”

Outlander season 4

JAMIE’S BANGS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY. IN EVERY SCENE, HE IS THE ONLY MAN TO HAVE BANGS. WHY? WHY????? (Oh yeah, there’s some practical clothing worn this season for traveling ‘n shit)

Outlander season 4

Claire is concerned this dress makes her look like mutton dressed as lamb. I’m far more concerned about the modern princess seams … but hey, maybe she suggested them to her dressmaker?

Outlander season 4

Is this Claire’s homemade corset from the 1960s? Because otherwise, I’m going to need someone to explain the garters as straps (seriously, those are elastic straps with metal clips at the end), and the fact that the below-the-hip portion isn’t split into tabs.

Outlander season 4

Auntie Jocasta (the fabulous Maria Doyle Kennedy). From a modern perspective, I love the stacked pleated trim with the hint of green poking out. Doesn’t seem very 18th century, but it’s NBD. I do note, however, that they’re very into pleated trims instead of gathered, which I wish we saw a bit more of.

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Marie-Rose de Larlan de Kercadio de Rochefort, Marquise des Nétumières, 1750, Detroit Institute of Arts

The kind of softer, gathered trim that I’m talking about | Jean-Étienne Liotard, Marie-Rose de Larlan de Kercadio de Rochefort, Marquise des Nétumières, 1750, Detroit Institute of Arts

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Jocasta gets some good caps, and she has this weird neck thingie.

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It’s clearly decorative and used as a fill-in.

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And it’s tied on like a bib.

Johann Zoffany, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen of Great Britain and Ireland, 1766, Holburne Museum

I’m used to seeing this kind of neck frilliness, but it’s usually in white lace, like this | Johann Zoffany, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen of Great Britain and Ireland, 1766, Holburne Museum

Thomas Gainsborough, Elizabeth Wrottesley, later Duchess of Grafton, 1764/5, National Gallery of Victoria

Or this | Thomas Gainsborough, Elizabeth Wrottesley, later Duchess of Grafton, 1764/5, National Gallery of Victoria

Lorens Pasch the younger, Lovisa Ulrika, 1720-1782, prinsessa av Preussen, drottning av Sverige, 1768, Nationalmuseum

Okay, so I did find some examples where it WASN’T white lace, but then it usually matches the gown… | Lorens Pasch the younger, Lovisa Ulrika, 1720-1782, prinsessa av Preussen, drottning av Sverige, 1768, Nationalmuseum

Allan Ramsay, Portrait of Lady Susan Fox-Strangways (1742-1827), 1761, private collection

Or trimmings | Allan Ramsay, Portrait of Lady Susan Fox-Strangways (1742-1827), 1761, private collection

Outlander season 4

Whoever added this note about the waistline gaposis (“We are fixing this, right?”), I love you.

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Claire’s party dress, storyline-wise altered from one of Jocasta’s dresses, before some puckering was fixed.

Outlander season 4

I’m pretty sure there’s some anachronistic princess seams in there, but I’m far more horrified by CLAIRE’S HAIR. SIDE PARTS WERE NOT DONE IN THE 18TH CENTURY. Another character snarked Claire’s hair in an earlier episode, they should have saved it for this. Yes, it’s very 1940s, but Claire just came from the 1960s, so where’s the bouffant (which would be much more in line with 1760s than this)?

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Yep, princess seams. Yep, Margaret Thatcher hair.

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I just had to point out this extra from the party scene, with her too-high neckline, clunky neckline trim, and can’t-see-it-but-it’s-there back lacing.

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Jocasta’s party dress was lovely, even if the damask pattern is too 16th century.

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I loved all her fichus and accessories.

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This dark purple outfit was SO great on screen. It’s totally evocative of period portraits…

John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), American writer, c. 1763, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Like this one! John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), American writer, c. 1763, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Outlander season 4

Who’s a good dog? Rollo is!


What’s your thoughts on the start of Outlander season 4?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

65 Responses

  1. Greta


    I did appreciate the number of quilted petticoats at River Run since I don’t see them represented as often (although maybe I’m just missing them). Thanks for pointing out Claire’s twentieth century “stays”, I knew they looked odd at the time and wasn’t sure why– she also has her 20th century zippered boots during episode three. I thought she’d lost a lot of this stuff earlier (like the shoes when drowning in the ocean?!?) so why they’d keep it around I have no idea.

    • broughps

      Claire didn’t lose any of her clothing in the ocean. In the book yes, the show no.

      • Ginger Travis Page

        That drove me crazy!!!! Any costume designer should know better! Especially in such an important scene. Zippers didn’t come into being until much later!

  2. lisas

    That leather coat looks completely machine stitched. Sewing leather is in no way comparable to sewing fabric and the ultra fine finishing on this coat gives me serious pause. I mean, there is very fine kid leather that can be embroidered and sewn finely but a coat for someone who is not the uppermost of the upper crust. Buckskins maybe…this no…

  3. Judith Cataldo

    So many things make me crazy about the clothing-the fit, or lack thereof in the male clothing, a leather jacket would be cut and fit the same as a cloth one. The gowns for Jocasta are at least in the style of the 1760s, Claire’s closed front gowns are so 1770s. The knit goods, no, just no.
    The portrait of Mercy Otis Warren is at the Boston MFA not Houston She is ours.

  4. Miss Tera

    I just finished the first episode that the Cherokee show up in, and as an actual, factual enrolled member of the Cherokee (Tsalagi) tribe, I have a couple thoughts:
    -The costumes are…actually pretty good. Not great, but not terrible. At least there was no fringed buckskin.
    -The actors DO NOT look Cherokee, or really like any of the Southeastern tribes. They look very Canadian/Northern Plains tribes, IMO.
    -There was one scene where they were speaking Tsalagi, and referred to themselves as “Cherokee” and I kind of ???? for a minute. For the record, we really, really do not call ourselves the word white people invented for us, unless specifically speaking to white people.
    -Some of the actors are clearly not Tsalagi speakers–pronunciation was all over the place, tone and inflection sounded (again) like people who were used to speaking languages from the Plains family.
    -Oh my various gods at Jaimie insisting to these natives that he “swears to be a good neighbor.” YOU ARE STILL ON STOLEN LAND, YOU TONE DEAF TWIT. For someone that spent so much time fighting the English for doing, y’know, the EXACT SAME SHIT to the Scots, he sure is thick af this stuff.

    • Ginny

      Several of the actors are from western Canada yes but there are a few maybe not in this episode who are from southern ontario and Quebec and are members of six nations..

      • Miss Tera

        That’s what I’m saying, they are VERY clearly Canadian and/or Northern Plains. That’s just…not how we look. We’re from nearly the complete opposite side of the continent, in the SE United States.

        • broughps

          Since Outlander is not a SAG show they couldn’t employ American actors, so they used the next best thing, First Nation people from Canada. Matt Roberts went to the Eastern Band of Cherokee and talked to them about how to make things accurate.

          • Miss Tera

            That’s good! But my point is that people are still very cavalier when it comes to casting First Nations peoples, and the accents are still dubious as hell.

            • Lady Nefertankh

              Yes I haven’t even seen this yet partly because I was concerned about the portrayal of native people. sighs I guess an example would be casting actors of primarily Dutch or Irish ancestry, as say Italian, or casting Spaniards as Poles? Most people would probably notice and comment on both their looks, and if they mangled the language badly. (Watching “Into the West” I noticed the actors who spoke Lakota most comfortably usually WERE Lakota and thus probably had prior experience with it, though that series wasn’t without some issues) But this isn’t usually the case with First Nation folks unfortunately.

    • Kendra

      Thanks, I was wondering about a lot of the native portrayals! Yeah, the tone-deaf-ness of “we’re on stolen land, but we’re honorable about it!” did drive me crazy.

      • Trystan L. Bass

        Altho’ some tone-deafness would be historically accurate too. Scots were just as likely as any other white ppl to believe the ‘new world’ belonged to them. Contradiction is part of human nature (see also: Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, Sally Hemmings).

        • Miss Tera

          As I said below: I realize it’s exactly accurate to haveJjamie with that mindset. That’s not what I’m irritated about–I’m sick and tired of having a Good White Man narrative, because white audiences will be watching that today and saying, “Aw, we were so good to those poor Indians!”

    • Saraquill

      Waves Another Southeastern NDN here. I’m curious, is there a particular look for Tsalagi, Northern Plains people and so on? I’m descended from Black Indians and many people in my local NDN community have mixed ancestry as well. I’m unfamiliar with the appearances you’re alluding to.

      • Miss Tera

        Osiyo, sister!

        Yeah, the different groups all have a kind of distinct look to them. It’s only obvious if you spend a lot of time at intertribal gatherings really, and obviously there’s exceptions ot the rule.Tsalagi and Lumbee look alike, for instance, but neither tribe looks like, say, the Anisasi or even Huron. I imagine it’s similar to how white people say all Asians look alike, but the differences in nationality are plain as day to an Asian person.

    • Aleko

      Small historical correction: Jacobites like Jamie had NOT “fought the English for stealing their land”, because the English hadn’t stolen it, and weren’t even trying to. The Jacobites were fighting the Hanoverian government of Britain for being Protestant, and the Lowland Scots who were mostly in charge of Scotland for trying to impose the rule of law on the Highlands instead of leaving them to steal each other’s cattle and womenfolk, and spasmodically mount raids on the more prosperous Lowlands, as the Stuart kings had left them free to do..

      But even if your statement were correct, that would be psychologically perfectly plausible and in keeping with what did repeatedly happen during the history of colonialism. North America (and Australia too) were very largely settled by people who had been deported from / forced to flee from / in one way or another forced out of their ancestral homes: and they typically proceeded to force the aboriginal inhabitants of the colonies off their ancestral land, without a second thought. It very, very rarely seems to have occurred to anybody that their was any equivalence at all, still less that it was wrong.

      • Trystan L. Bass

        Yup, many of the American colonists had an idea that they were ‘oppressed’ & fleeing some kind of wrong, but they had zero compunction about kicking native Americans off their own land. Selective freedoms, yo!

      • Miss Tera

        I’m going to reply to you, but address others who have brought up the same thing: I realize it’s exactly accurate to have jamie with that mindset. That’s not what I’m irritated about–I’m sick and tired of having a Good White Man narrative, because white audiences will be watching that today and saying, “Aw, we were so good to those poor Indians!”

      • Alison

        Actually, no they weren’t fighting the Hanoverian government for being protestant. There were protestant Jacobites, English Jacobites and some lowland Jacobites. A large number of Episcopalians fought for the Jacobite cause. They wanted a Stewart King back on the throne. Many wanted the end of parliamentary union. It did lead to the end of the clan system and the beginning of the clearances. Which did mean land ended up with owners friendly to the Crown.
        Both versions (Scot v English and Catholic v Protestant) are over-simplification.

  5. Kathryn MacLennan

    Those bangs! Why do they exist? They are so wrong on so many levels.

  6. Julie White

    I totally agree with Jamie’s hair. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY! Get rid of those bangs!
    In the last episode, Claire takes off her boots by unzipping them. Hmm… did she bring these from the future??

      • Julie White

        Don’t you think she would have found a pair of lace up boots? In my costuming I never use zippers unless I absolutely need to. I guess the locals aren’t supposed to notice. How would she explain them if they do?

      • Emily

        Yup, I think Terri said on twitter that she had them with the “Batsuit” in season 3. And yes, the corset that she’s wearing is the “from the future” one, too.

  7. picasso Manu

    Am I hallucinating, or Claire’s neck shows a very disturbing line in the Margaret Thatcher pic? Or is this my French genes showing guillotine lines everywhere?

  8. broughps

    Yes that is Claire’s homemade corset from the 1960s.

    The coat was Jamie’s father’s coat. We saw it in season 2 in Scotland. It shouldn’t be in the story anymore because it shouldn’t have made it’s way back to Lallybroch during the Jacobite rebellion.

    Not official yet, but she’s down as co-costume designer with Terry on season 4 – Nina Ayers. I’m willing to bet she will be the official designer for season 5 at least, if not 5 and 6. Terry did say that she hand picked her successor.

    Pretty much the whole fandom hate’s Jamie’s hair/wig. Most aren’t terribly wild about Claire’s either.

    One of the things Terry has pointed out is clothes and shoes don’t disintegrate in the ocean. There’s no reason why Claire wouldn’t still have her boots and her “Bat suit”. Though I wouldn’t blame Claire for tossing the “Bat suit” first thing.

  9. Toni Mannell

    Dresbach stated that items of clothing survived the Titanic going down. True, they did, but once recovered, they have to be preserved. Claire’s boots came through Edinburgh weather, a trip across the ocean to Jamaica, diving off a ship, the longest jungle trek in history, and a quick traipse around Jamaica, to say nothing about a hurricane. I want to know where she got those boots, for the zipper to still work, and the leather to be in perfect condition!

    • Bel

      Also wouldn’t they stink by now?? She should really treat herself to some new ones.

        • Dee

          The only reason the Titanic shoes still exist is the tannins in the leather resisted the bacteria which would eat them. The Titanic is 4K down, in darkness and in freezing cold water. And Toni’s right. As soon as they are brought up, they have to be carefully preserved.

  10. Lady Hermina De pagan

    The leather coat: Watch episode 4 of A Stitch in Time from BBC. They recreate the leather frock coat worn the 18th century painting, The Hedge Cutter by George Henry. It is an amazing representation of second/third hand clothing and the actual use of leather in this period.
    However, I want to smack those bangs off of Jamie’s head.

  11. Hawke

    I was looking at Faedra and Mary in episode 2 and wondering about the colored fichus they appear to be wearing. Is there any evidence of that in history?

    • Judith Cataldo

      Working class wear printed or spotted hankerchiefs, some period images look like a solid color but when you look closely it is patterned-examples here The enslaved women seemed to be dressed alike as if it were a uniform, not sure how often that was done given the lack of images of enslaved in American. A few years ago there was discussion that bibbed aprons were not worn here. Indeed there are very few images of adult women in bibbed aprons in England or the US.

      • Aleko

        Uniforms for female servants (unlike livery suits for footmen, coachmen and other male “display” servants) were never a deliberate thing in the 18th century, but could come about by accident. “Good” employers in Britain often gave their female servants a length of fabric each as a Christmas present, to make themselves new gowns. Unless they deliberately went to the trouble of buying a different print for each of the maids – a special effort which not many masters or mistresses, even generous ones, would think of making – the effect would be that all the female servants would have near-identical gowns. And on American plantations, slave-owners would have been buying clothes (or the materials to make clothes) in bulk. So yes, they would generally have been dressed alike, simply because that was easier and cheaper than dressing them differently.

  12. Jenno

    Sadly I think Jamie’s bangs are a consequence of Sam’s forehead, nay fivehead. He pretty much loses all sex appeal with his hair pulled back in a historically accurate fashion. Pretty sure that decision was made by the Starz bigwigs, not Terry or her hairstyling colleagues.

    • Angela

      I’m finding the bangs waaaay less attractive than any period accurate hairstyle would be. Sigh. They seem way more egregious this season than previous seasons. Why are they so long and hanging straight down in his eyes? Why do they always look wet? Ugh.

      • anniebuck

        The bangs are gross, and not historically accurate, and don’t make sense. Why would Jamie cut his hair into bangs? In the books, much is made of clubbing his hair. I just don’t get it. He looks silly. Until ep 4, where he drags the “bear” into the village. Then he looks HAWT.

  13. Judith Cataldo

    Thinking again about the stays. Once you have worn properly fitting stays you don’t want to go back to poorly made ones. Claire lived in the 18th century and had good stays especially when living in France. They showed her using Norah Waugh for a pattern, same book I used to make my first pair. Mine had more support and no zipper. In the 1960s she would have gotten metal bones from Windsor Button Shop in downtown Boston, where I got mine in the ’70s. Stays, stockings and correct shoes would be on you must buy list on arrival in the 18th century.
    Someone noted the actress is wearing a bra under her stays-why?

  14. Saraquill

    The screencaps with the black characters make me uneasy. Does Jocasta employ free people or does she own slaves? If the latter, excuse me while I scream into a pillow over the sheer hypocrisy.

    • Kendra

      Yes, they are enslaved people. Luckily that is a plot point – Claire is totally, actionably not cool with slave ownership.

    • Emily

      Well, some of those slaves are…..well. Hmm. Let’s just say that in the books Phaedre and Ulysses have Very Interesting Plots. (Yes, they’re slaves. But P and U have special statuses, which will be revealed.)

  15. Aleko

    Actually pleated trimmings on gowns were totally a thing in the 1760s and early ’70s, e.g. as worn by Mrs Abington as painted by Reynolds ('s_'love_for_love'-6482.html) and Mrs Richard Skinner ( Admittedly, it was far from the only thing, and yes it would have been nice to see some scalloped twisty trimming as well.

    Something that is crunchingly wrong here is that literally everyone with a wine glass is holding it by the bowl. This was social death in the 18th century, as proving that even though you might be able to afford fine clothes you were still as common as muck: gentlefolk ALWAYS held them elegantly by the foot. You can see this in contemporary satires such as Hogarth’s – e.g. in the Rake’s Progress Tom still holds his glass properly as he falls drunk off his chair in a brothel – he may be pigfaced drunk but he was born a gentleman. (It could have made a nice sight-gag if Claire had been holding her glass by the bowl while everyone else was holding theirs properly.)

  16. Rico

    Concerning the weird neck thing, I found something approaching (though matching the trim pattern) in French painter Drouais’s paintings of the 1760’s (all paintings of princess Sophie of France who seemed to like these neck things, perhaps she didn’t like showing off her bosom :)

  17. Melissa Cowan

    I just came here because I’m bringing the Season 4 episodes I recorded and Jamie’s bangs are driving me crazy. I had to see if you had said something and was not disappointed.

  18. Ruth

    The chunky knits, while beautiful, are slowly killing me inside. Slowly.