My mother tried to get me to read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for 20 years. So after it aired on Starz, I quit resisting my mother and read the first book. I was hooked! Hooked on the show and hooked on the novels (which took two years to read). I love the character of Claire and wanted to wear her 18th century clothing. At the time, Simplicity had yet to release their version of Claire’s dresses, so I had nothing to guide me.
I wanted to wear the iconic outfit in the first season’s promotional photos, but had a hell of a time finding screen accurate plaid. So I opted for several of her lesser known pieces (peacock top, brown skirt, flower stomacher) combined with her signature crocheted cowl. The brown skirt will give me more options to mix and match other pieces.
I found more historically accurate (and screen accurate) patterns online (JP Ryan’s Ladies Jackets), and worked through the pieces according to the instructions. The only modification I made was the shirt length between B and C views to match Claire’s length. The stomacher was made with no modifications.
The skirt was a bit more of a struggle, since I wanted to match the pleats in Claire’s promo stills. The flat front with pleats all the way around the sides and back was very important to me for aesthetics and garment weight. So I laid 10 yards of heavy upholstery fabric on the floor and pleated by sight. This almost broke my machine for how thick it was. I banded the top with scrap material and ran a drawstring through the waist (hidden beneath shirt).
As for undergarments, I wore an old chemise from a prior costume, an Elizabethan bum roll, and an under bust corset. Again, the Simplicity Outlander patterns were not available at the time I made this costume, so I went with what I had. I thought I might eventually make a proper chemise, bum roll, and 18th century stays but decided these were just fine. Besides, I do appreciate the help of the steel boning with my terrible posture.
To accessorize the outfit, I purchase a recreation of her cowl in barley brown from KnitPlayLove on Etsy and Outlander inspired (book) silver Jacobite ring and Outlander inspired (book) pearl necklace from Hamilton & Young in Edinburgh Scotland. And since I have brown eyes, book-Claire has honey eyes, and show-Claire has blue eyes, I went with blue contacts to match show-Claire. I already have the hair and pasty white skin…
I first wore Claire at Comicpalooza in Houston in June, then DragonCon in Atlanta in September. Why I stubbornly continue to wear bulky clothing in such a hot locations is beyond me, so by the end of the night in Atlanta, the cowl came off. Peter Airborne was able to snap a few photos before I removed the cowl.
Thankfully, more appropriate weather for Claire was at the Texas Renaissance Festival in November. Highland Fling themed weekend was the perfect setting to wear the complete outfit (cowl included).
My husband and friends joined in on the fun that day, some in costume, and some wearing warning shirts and devilish smiles.
So what’s next on my costume wishlist? Well, I’m obsessed with Claire’s season 1 looks, so I have plans to switch out her accessories from other scenes (thank you, brown skirt that goes with everything). I’ll be making two more stomachers, a cape, an apron, and have purchased several more of KnitPlayLove’s crocheted reproductions (caplet and arm warmers). I also have plans to make Claire’s through-the-stones dress from the 1940s.
Strange, the Things You Remember…
-from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon