Various Thoughts on Outlander Season 3


Some of us (coughmecough) didn’t manage to watch season 3 of Outlander when it aired, hence our comparative paucity of content. Sarah wrote some stuff (the technical term) on the first half of the season, thankfully! Well, I recently binged it all (yes, a free Starz trial may have been involved), and while I don’t necessarily have a REVIEW, I have a few thoughts!

In general, I was entertained — in particular, there was an acceptable amount of shagging in the second half! As always, they do a good job capturing the books, although I feel like they could edit out a few of the sidebar characters they’ve chosen to keep.

But anyway…

The Caribbean Is Hot

Or so I’ve been told! I get it, they probably didn’t have the budget to make all the wardrobe that would be needed to properly dress the entire cast for just a few episodes. But I kept looking at all these people and wondering why they weren’t sweating!

What did Europeans wear in the Caribbean in the 18th century? Based on the paintings of Agostino Brunias, who painted primarily people of color in Dominica and other islands in the Caribbean from 1770 through 1796, a whole lot of cotton and/or linen and a whole lot of white. People definitely adjusted their clothing to suit the climate!

Agostino Brunias, Planter and his Wife, with a Servant, c. 1780, Yale Center for British Art

Agostino Brunias, Planter and his Wife, with a Servant, c. 1780, Yale Center for British Art

Agostino Brunias, Linen Market, Dominica, c. 1780

Agostino Brunias, Linen Market, Dominica, c. 1780

Agostino Brunias, Free Women of Color With Their Children and Servants in a Landscape, Brooklyn Museum

Agostino Brunias, Free Women of Color With Their Children and Servants in a Landscape, Brooklyn Museum

Agostino Brunias, Dancing Scene in the West Indies, c.1730-1796, Tate Britain

Agostino Brunias, Dancing Scene in the West Indies, c.1730-1796, Tate Britain

So I’m guessing budget limitations explains why everyone is wearing silk taffeta (except, actually, Claire in her sensible ship outfit, which, yes, is informed by her modern sensibilities as we suspected)? I mean, props for silk! But these people would have been DYING of heat and DRIPPING with sweat:

Outlander season 3

Claire: dressed appropriately for the climate!

Outlander Season 3 2017

Okay, so is Mamacita! Even if I don’t totally understand that yoke.

Outlander Season 3 2017

And if Geilis’s dress is a cotton print, and not silk (can’t tell, actually), then she’s made a good decision!

Outlander Season 3 2017 Outlander Season 3 2017

But the rest of these suckers…

Outlander season 3

Silk taffeta: not fun in a humid climate.

Outlander season 3

The main nod seemed to be giving every lady a Chinese paper parasol, which, meh?

Outlander season 3


Outlander season 3


A Few Minor Thoughts

1. Does Every Gay Man in the 18th Century Want to Shag Jamie?

More a quibble for book author Diana Gabaldon.

Outlander Season 3 2017

Come on Claire, maybe a threesome could be fun?

2. Loved Geilis’s dressing gown!

Outlander Season 3 2017


Literally, they walk up, ask if everyone’s alright, inform Jamie and Claire that they’re in Georgia, and then as J&C are all “WHOA,” THEY WANDER OFF. NO. THAT IS NOT HOW YOU RESPOND TO FINDING SHIPWRECKED PEOPLE ON YOUR BEACH. “Hey, I gave them directions??!!”

Outlander Season 3 2017

See those people in the background? All they are good for is geographical information. Everything else, you’re on your own bucko!

4. Why Is Jamie Back in a Manbob?

Supposedly he’d had his hair cut in prison right before season 1 starts. But now it’s 20 years later and his hair is… still in a Poldark-esque manbob? Why?

Outlander Season 3 2017

4. Yeah, Margaret Thatcher Cosplay Hair

Outlander Season 3 2017

And saving the best for last…


NO, WOMEN DID NOT WEAR FULL WIGS IN THE 18TH CENTURY. IF THEY DID, THEY TRIED TO HIDE THE FACT BY WORKING THEIR OWN HAIR INTO. Instead, they wore hairpieces — a lot of them! But they did not go Consciously Artificial the way men did.

I know, it’s a quibble. But beyond that, WHY DOES THIS LOOK LIKE THE BASTARD LOVE CHILD OF A MAN’S WIG AND A BICHON FRISE (yes, a real 18th-century women’s hairstyle; yes, like the dog)? WHY? HOW? CAN SOMEONE GIVE ME THEIR ADDRESS AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY BOOK?

Outlander Season 3 2017

Silhouette: way too poufy! Obvious wigline: NO, not for a woman! (Side note, wtf with the gold lace ruff? huh?)

Outlander Season 3 2017

What happened here? It’s KIND OF a bichon frisé but the curl size is way too huge.

Bust of Mme. Brigitte François Elisabeth de Lansire, née Garnier d'Isle; Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (French, 1714 - 1785); France; 1750s; Marble; 53 × 28.5 × 26.5 cm (20 7/8 × 11 1/4 × 10 7/16 in.); 98.SA.169.1. Getty Museum.

Here’s what this style SHOULD look like. Bust of Mme. Brigitte François Elisabeth de Lansire, née Garnier d’Isle; Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (French, 1714 – 1785); France; 1750s; Marble; 53 × 28.5 × 26.5 cm (20 7/8 × 11 1/4 × 10 7/16 in.); 98.SA.169.1. Getty Museum.

jlggb rousseau-houdon-louvre

I think what annoys me is how much Geilis’ hair looks like this men’s style, here worn by Rousseau in a bust by Houdon at the Louvre. It’s called the bob wig (or “bonnet” in French), and it’s for BOYS.

Outlander Season 3 2017


Outlander Season 3 2017

*Geilis wasn’t the only one. I spotted at least 2 extras, one of whom was in a grey wig with obvious wigline, wearing the same style. I don’t understand.



Any costuming things stand out to you in Outlander season 3?


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.

44 Responses

  1. broughps

    What did you think about the re-purposing of Claire’s clothes for both her and Marsali?

    • Kendra

      I thought it was a good nod to continuity/story, although that brown/turquoise dress that Marsali wore is sooooo clunky (back lacing, trim that doesn’t continue across the back neckline).

      • Terry Dresbach

        THAT was because we are trying, perhaps not successfully to seek the idea that people were cobbling together bits and pieces of clothing and fabric. The side panels on that dress, for example, don’t match the rest of the dress. It is supposed to be awkward.
        Unfortunately, without dialogue support that tells the viewer that these things are happening, it doesn’t always read on camera. As much as I LOVE showing that bit of history, it may not read as what it is.

    • Kendra

      Meh? Basically, Jamie has saved Claire’s wardrobe (plot point) and pulls it out when they’re en route to Jamaica. Luckily there isn’t THAT much fashion change between late 1740s and 1760s — I mean, there’s some, but it’s not massive. So they get away with it.

  2. Kelly

    Glad to see Starz got some more use out of the Black Sails sets.

      • Kelly

        Like, they didn’t even try to disguise it. Apparently they refused the ships which is kind of cool.

        I just have a lot of feelings re Black Sails several months after watching the last episode :'(

  3. Kay

    The scene with Claire and Jamie washed up on the Georgia shore made me laugh hysterically, since I live on Savannah and Georgia’s coast is no where near that majestic and hilly.

    It would be nice if they actually filmed some stuff here for next season and I could trot out one of my 18th century costumes as an extra.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I’ve read they’re still filming in Scotland (actually, filming right now!) even tho’ the next season is mostly in the U.S., I guess just bec. they have production setup there? Bummer!

      • broughps

        They don’t film in the US because they aren’t a SAG show.

          • Kendra

            My vague memory is they go back to Scotland again soon-ish, but they definitely settle in North Carolina and most of the action moves there from here on out.

            • broughps

              Jamie and Claire don’t go back to Scotland until book 7. There are however scenes in Scotland with Bree and Roger.

      • Kelly

        Some of this is South Africa I think, at least the stuff in Ye Olde Starz!Nassau

        • broughps

          With the exception of the inside of the Govenor’s Ball all the Caribbean stuff was filmed in SA.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      The scene reminded me of thread of Shakespeare in Love where Viola washes ashore on a beach.

      BTW did anyone else want the feed nerdy lieutenant/captain to sharks after having Claire save his crew and still he wanted to arrest Jamie? Luckily LJG put him in his place.

      • broughps

        Yes and I loved how LJG put him in his place. Really looking forward to more of David Berry’s LJG.

        • Susan Pola Staples

          I also have an appreciation for LJG. Cannot wait for Season 4 with more him & I believe Jamie’s son as well.

    • Emily

      In the book, Claire wakes up in a house. I can see that they didn’t want to build a whole set for what is basically like, four pages. But they stay with that couple for awhile, in between book 3 and the start of book 4. But, yeah.

  4. revknits

    Agree on those wigs – yikes! As to the fabric choices, all the interiors and some exteriors are in Scotland (except for the ship stuff). So linen/cotton would mean they would freeze? I also wonder if production was looking forward to Season 4 which will be filmed in Scotland and somewhere else cold (Czech Republic? Hungary?? I forget) for the mountains of North Carolina and the river scenes.

    • Kendra

      Re: still filming in Scotland — not my fault they’re making bad choices! (Note: comment aimed at the showmakers, not you). I do know some of the Caribbean stuff was filmed in South Africa. Beauty is pain!

    • Kendra

      Also, that’s annoying, because they’re going to spend a lot of time on the North Carolina coast, and so that should also be hot and humid.

      • broughps

        Not that much time on the coast really. They meet the governor and then head to Cross Creek/Fayetteville for a short time (a hundred miles inland) then the rest is pretty much in the mountains, with the odd trip back to Cross Creek.

        • Kendra

          Ok! I remember lots of stuff with Aunt(?) Jocasta(?), but maybe just b/c that stuff was more interesting than the mountain-y stuff?

          • broughps

            There is probably more Aunt Jocasta in book 5 than book 4, though there is a nice few chapters at Jocasta’s in book 4 before they head to the mountains.

  5. Issy

    Why don’t they just come to the actual North Carolina mountains?
    I would love the chance to be an (admittedly anachronistic – yay being chinese-american biracial) extra.

  6. Bel

    TBH I wouldn’t put it past Geillis to re-purpose a man’s wig just for the hell of it, but the extras have no excuse!

  7. Jillian

    I thought this season was an absolute mess…I enjoyed it (and full disclosure I haven’t read the books) but I think it really should have been split into two seasons, the first one ending with the Claire and Jamie reunion, and the second about Geillis and the Caribbean. I personally think the first half of this season was much stronger than the second, which was fun, but whiplash breakneck trying to cram in way too much plot.

    (Plus the Caribbean stuff was so “wacky”…the coconut guy and crazy Geillis, clandestine acupuncture on shipboard, as fun as it was, it was such a tone shift from the sensitive, operatic first half…and didn’t have time for more than lip service to sticky issues like slavery and mental illness…)

    But my suspicion is they were afraid of mutiny from Claire/Jamie fans if they didn’t get some screen time together.

    I love those colonists “Hey. Welp. Bye.” LOL

    • broughps

      Crazy Geillis is from the books as was the acupuncture (though they changed that, it was funny in the books). They added stuff that wasted time (basically most of The Doldrums ep) and left out whole story arcs involving pirates and the British captain pursuing Jamie on the high seas. I blame budget for those.

  8. Terry Dresbach

    Yes Geillis’s dress was cotton. We still do our homework.

    • Terry Dresbach

      And unfortunately, we do shoot in Scotland in the dead of winter. We don’t want people to die, so we didn’t spray them down with water during shooting
      So, it kind of killed the masses of people in cotton. We took the leap that we could keep the wealthy crowd in silks and linens.
      I don’t do hair and makeup, but my guess is that they also didn’t want to spray the crowd with water in freezing conditions.

      • Kendra

        We know you do your homework! Great, then I am all thumbs up about Geilis’s française (and thrilled that it was a real française, too). That’s too bad about the cold — I know, I’m nitpicking! :)

        • Terry Dresbach

          :) No, not really. I pulled my hair out over this season and the problems it presented. There was no way we had the time, not the money, to create hundreds of cotton costumes. Not that it would have been accurate to have everyone in the American colony to be in cotton. But there was just NO WAY we would have done it even if we had the time.
          We actually had to change the time of the story so we wouldn’t kill everyone dressing them for summer in the South, pointing out that they would be sweating, getting rid of layers, men in shirts and waistcoats, things we just could not do with a conscience in Scottish winter.
          But what was interesting and worth a read, is how much fabric choices were impacted by British trade laws in the US. Cotton had to be imported from India, and wealthy people dressed in silk and wool. The poor wore what they wore in their native countries…wool. Plantation owners were forced to import wool from Britain to dress slaves in, while they shipped the cheaper cotton back. One of the smaller reasons that Southern States finally agreed to join the North.
          Not sure if you have read Linda Baumgartens AMAZING book, What They Wore. Such a fascinating read. It really inspired my choice to repeat clothing we saw them wear 20 years earlier.
          Geillis’s dress is handpainted cotton. There are small demonic beasties hidden in the floral pattern, too much fun to create. Sadly we don’t see it close enough on camera, to see them peeking through the leaves and flowers.
          I am surprised you didn’t comment on Claire’s riding suit and it’s disassembly.

          • SarahV

            Hi Terry!

            I just think it is just so cool that you interact with the fans of the show and the Frock Girls like this! It really helps me appreciate how much work is actually put into everything we see on the screen and all the thousands of considerations and decisions that go into every costume.

  9. Karen

    I don’t know if Gabaldon took some heat for making Black Jack Randall the most evil person ever AND homosexual; I always assumed that Lord John’s sexuality was in some small way to show that she didn’t think gay men were evil, since he’s one of the most honorable people in the books. And, come on, big, pretty redheaded Scots? Who’s not into that?

    • broughps

      DG will tell you that BJR isn’t gay, that he’s an equal opportunity sadist.

  10. Toni Mannell

    Personally, having been tried as a witch previously, I was surprised Claire used gaberdine for the god-awful Bat Suit. Surely wool would have been a) warmer and b) time period appropriate? I realise that she was being an onion, peeling off the layers as she felt more comfortable with her decision to go back to Jamie – but having that fabric – and in that colour – it really stood out and could have caused her a lot of problems. Also Jenny Murray would have already used and re-used those costumes of Claire’s from previously. The wigs Jamie wears are disgusting and vile, looks like a dead squirrel perched on his head. With the money obviously spent on costuming, perhaps they could chuck £100 at the wig department for something which is akin to the hair of the books for Jamie, which almost has a role of it’s own

  11. Julie

    So … I’m binge-watching this season now, because I am insanely late.
    I just watched the governor’s ball episode (with the mannish Geilis wig), and I thought Claire’s yellow dress looked familiar.
    The show-runners were saying that they did in fact re-use several of Claire’s costumes from France (Season 2), for both her and Marsali.
    Which I thought was so lovely on many levels. The clothes were expensive, and the Frasers aren’t a family of spendthrifts. Jamie couldn’t bear to sell Claire’s things, so he kept them; when he tried to make a new life with Laoghaire, he gave her some of Claire’s clothes (which, even if Claire isn’t a clothes-horse, must have hurt to see another woman in her frock!). Illustrates old-fashioned Scottish thrift, is in perfect keeping with historical practice (one reason it’s hard to find extant period garments is because people often re-worked them as fashions changed) and eases some of the strain on the costume budget.
    I’d be curious to see if they made any changes to the clothes to “update” them from 1740’s to 1760’s.

    • Dee

      While Ian and Jenny’s family was starving in the hard times after Culloden (but at least they had potatoes) it would make sense that the fancy clothing would’ve been sold or remade into something useful. No way that Claire’s warm coat wouldn’t have been used by many Murrays and passed down in those 20 years until it was threadbare. Jamie wasn’t at Lallybroch for much of that time period, so it wouldn’t have even been his decision to make, as he was hiding in a cave or in prison or at Hellwater. Of course, the coat pops up looking pristine and with no moth holes two decades later so Bree can wear it. I’m not buying it.

      • Toni Mannell

        It’s because the whole costume is Dresbach’s flight of fantasy, virtually none of the Scottish clothing accessories was authentic. The only things were the arisaids (the woven cloth covers the women wear over their shoulders). Claire’s green, fur trimmed button up coat hadn’t been invented at that time, the knitted sleeves, the knitten wrap-arounds, and particularly Gellis’s fluffy angora throw she wears walking in the orchard with Claire… Season 2, none of the gowns Claire wore were authentic, other than the baby poo brown one painted with flowers and worn with Marigold gloves. Louise de Rohan’s gowns were more period authentic. Dresbach bleats that she keeps to the period, but then Tweets that the red dress was thought up between herself and Barfe – who was hired to be a clothes horse, because she sure as eggs are eggs cannot act. The Batsuit would have actually got Claire burned at the stake, the fabric and the colour were not available then, let alone the zip up boots… S4 – poor people cannot afford brand new gowns, and not three of them. The wrap around tops are not authentic, neither is Claire’s men’s belt. The whole costumery for S1 – 4 are not authentic. Let’s hope the new costume designer for S5 is better informed