Outlander Costumes

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "Not in Scotland Anymore" Outlander s2 e2
Promotional image for Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

In honour of Burns Night, a guide to Outlander patterns.

Outlander is now in its fourth season; it’s been renewed for two more. Adapted from the popular series by Diana Gabaldon, the time-travelling romance has plenty of source material: Gabaldon is currently working on her ninth Outlander book.

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Devil's Mark" Outlander S1 e11
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

Sunday’s season finale will be the last episode to feature costumes by Terry Dresbach. Trisha Biggar is the new costume designer for season 5. Biggar, who is from Glasgow, is best known for her work on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Scottish costume designer Trisha Biggar's Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (2005)
Trisha Biggar’s Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams 2005)

In 2017, Simplicity’s unofficial Outlander patterns prompted Dresbach to take down her website. (It’s back now.) The next year, McCall’s started releasing official, licensed Outlander patterns.

Simplicity

Fall Through Time - Simplicity Outlander costumes by American Duchess
Fall Through Time – American Duchess’ Outlander costume, Simplicity 8161. Image: Simplicity.

Simplicity’s adapted-from-Outlander patterns are by American Duchess, a historical costuming company based in Reno, Nevada. The three patterns are based on Claire’s costumes in seasons 1 and 2: 18th-century Highland dress and an unusual court gown. There’s also a free pattern for her crocheted cowl.

Claire Fraser dress pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.
Claire's underthings pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8162 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.

It was this version of Claire’s red dress that caused such consternation online. Claire wears the original during her visit to Versailles in “Not in Scotland Anymore,” the episode that earned Outlander its first Emmy nomination for costume design. It was also seen in promotional materials for season 2 (see top of post). The pattern is still in print, but as with Simplicity’s Game of Thrones patterns, the colour was soon changed to a less provocative teal.

A pattern version of Claire Fraser's scandalous red dress - Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017)
Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017) Image: Simplicity.

McCall’s

McCall’s started licensing official Outlander patterns in 2018. (Company founder James McCall was a Scottish immigrant, and McCall’s UK — McCalls Ltd — is not a pattern company, but a Highlandwear outfitters.) McCall’s Outlander patterns cover both women’s and men’s costumes, with many available as instant downloads. For the first few releases this meant Claire and Jamie Fraser, or 18th-century Scottish highlander garb.

Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.
Outlander season 2's shirtless and kilted MacKenzie men
Alternate look for kilt M7736. Image: Starz.

Next came the couple’s wedding clothes: Jamie’s frock coat and Claire’s wedding dress.

Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Wedding," Outlander s1 e7 (2014)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Outerwear was the focus of the Summer release, with patterns for Claire’s fur-trimmed riding jacket and Jamie’s leather coat.

Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall's Summer 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall’s Summer 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe) goes riding in Outlander, season 1 e4
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Terry Dresbach.
Scottish laird Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Jamie is still wearing the coat in season 2, when he joins up with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Dresbach suited the latter not in the Stuart, but the MacQueen tartan.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and Jamie Fraser in "Prestonpans" Outlander season 2 episode 10 (2016)
Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

This fall, we finally saw a costume for British officer Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, plus Claire’s blue riding jacket-and-waistcoat combo from season 3’s Emmy-nominated episode, “Freedom & Whisky.” The title is a Burns quote, and the episode sees Claire sewing the outfit herself, for time travel. A costume book lies open by her sewing machine, and her ensemble looks to be based on a memorable riding habit in Janet Arnold’s classic, Patterns of Fashion.

Outlander costumes M7823 and redcoat uniform M7824 in McCall's Early Fall 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7823 and M7824 in McCall’s Early Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Tobias Menzies in his redcoat uniform as Outlander's Black Jack Randall
Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) in Outlander. Image: Starz.
Snowshill Manor riding habit in Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold
The Snowshill Manor riding habit in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1 (1964). Image: Pinterest.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 3 (2017). Image: Starz.

This year, McCall’s Outlander patterns caught up to the show with this caraco jacket and skirt. The jacket looks to be one of Claire’s remade outfits, courtesy of Jamie’s aunt Jocasta.

Outlander costume M7916 in McCall's Early Spring 2019 lookbook
Outlander costume M7916 in McCall’s Early Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19)
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19). Image: tumblr.

Slàinte! To freedom and whisky.

Update (April 2019): This new release includes Claire’s peplum jacket and fichu (scarf), plus a chemise:

Outlander costume McCall's 7940 (2019)
Outlander costume M7940 in McCall’s Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.

6 thoughts on “Outlander Costumes

  1. Ah, unlicensed costume patterns! One of the highlights of my sewing year is going to the pattern books to visit with the new knockoffs with each crop of pop culture must-haves. I love the Pokemon trainer ones but McCalls 7675 just reduces me to tears of laughter.
    Thing One much?

  2. Enjoyed this post and seeing the costumes and costume patterns. I love this series as well as the books. Great to read there is another book in the process; as well as, knowing there will be two more seasons.

  3. Oh goodness!Fabulous, so many can be made to look both authentic AND modern. Everyone will always try to copy looks. I rem sitting in front of the telly in the 70s, pad and pencil in hand, copying Cher’s outfits. At the time I had no idea I was copying Bob Mackie!

    All I can say is “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.”

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