By Lynette Rice
August 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM EDT

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Think Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen or Barbara Stanwyck in The Big Valley.

To prepare Caitriona Balfe for her scenes aboard the Artemis in season 3 of Outlander, costume designer Terry Dresbach found inspiration from the ensembles worn by Hepburn and Stanwyck and went to work on a white blouse, oversized belt, and skirt look.

“When we first see Claire, she is all buttoned up and nervous about meeting Jamie for the first time after 20 years,” Dresbach tells EW. “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. Cait looks amazing in that costume. It’s romantic beyond romantic.”

Credit: Ruven Afanador for EW

But when EW debuted the outfit as part of its cover story on newsstands now, some fans questioned the authenticity of one part of the ensemble. Can someone say belt-gate? That prompted Dresbach to set the viewers straight via Twitter that it was actually something she and Jamie had worn in previous seasons so it’s quite appropriate, thank you very much.

Ironically, the entire ensemble is way more fascinating than the strip of leather that helps to keep up Claire’s skirt. The shirt and skirt are actually the bottom layer of a traveling outfit that Claire — and we mean Dresbach — spent a lot of time designing for our heroine’s big trip back to the 18th century.

“As a woman of the 20th century who knows she was going back in time… and to ask every audience member the eternal question of time travel… if you knew you were going, what would you do?” says Dresbach. “Well, I’d put myself in that position: If I’m going back to Scotland, I would make sure what I was wearing was waterproof. I’d make sure it was warm. Claire knows where she is going to, she knows what the conditions are, so she being Claire, the queen of all women, she figures out practically what she needs. There are a lot of layers to that costume on purpose.”

But you’ll have to wait to truly appreciate the outfit: Claire’s blue ensemble (which even comes with its own song!) doesn’t make its triumphant debut for several episodes after the drama’s Sept. 10 premiere.

Want more behind-the-scenes scoop before then?

And don’t forget to join me and Amy Wilkinson for the second season of Outlander Live! at noon ET on Sept. 11 on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105.

Episode Recaps

Outlander Season 4 2018


Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time travel novels come to life in the Starz series.

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