In Sunday’s episode of Outlander, Roger (Richard Rankin) quipped to Claire (Caitriona Balfe) that she will have her own utility belt to travel back through time, “just like the Caped Crusader himself.” So it’s only fitting that Claire’s handmade ensemble is nicknamed the “batsuit,” a fully-functional outfit that’s specially designed to help her survive the 18th century.
“We wanted Claire to be a woman of the 20th century, who knows she is going back in time, ” explains costume designer Terry Dresbach. “I would ask every audience member the eternal question of time travel … if you knew you were going, what would you do? If I put myself in that position, I would make sure what I was wearing was waterproof and make sure it was warm. Claire knows where she is going to, she knows what the conditions are. So she being Claire, being the queen of all women, she figures out practically what she needs.”
The batsuit will end up serving several purposes, not just as a handy place to store Claire’s 20th-century medical tools. After all, Dresbach teases, it needs to last her through that big Caribbean journey with Jamie (Sam Heughan) later this season.
“There are a lot of layers to that costume on purpose,” explains Dresbach. “The original layer is a top coat and a cape. She doesn’t peel back all the layers until she and Jamie are back together and she’s available to reclaim that part of herself, which has been pretty much dead for all those years. She’s back with Jamie and that romantic side of herself is rekindled again. ”
By the time she and Jamie board the Artemis later this season for their ocean adventure, Claire’s bat suit has been scaled back to a loose blouse with a belt and billowy skirt.
“We had a vision of Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen,” explains Dresbach. “Caitriona looks amazing in that costume. So when we first see her when she is all buttoned up, she is nervous, she’s meeting Jamie for the first time after 20 years, and then we see this slow unraveling into this strong, confident very sexy woman who is on that boat wearing a white blouse, a big leather belt, and a billowing skirt. It’s romantic beyond romantic.”
Want to hear more about episode 5? Tune into Outlander Live at noon ET Monday, Oct. 9, on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105, because Richard Rankin, a.k.a. Roger Wakefield, will be our guest!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.