Outlander fashion: How Montgomery Ward helped to outfit Caitriona Balfe (really!)
Fans may not want to watch Claire (Caitriona Balfe) living without Jamie (Sam Heughan) in the 20th century, but the character’s time jump to Boston brought sweet relief to Outlander‘s costume department.
“The brilliant thing about Outlander is that as soon as you are about to burn everything from the 18th century, or you can’t draw one more 18th century gown, then come the 1940s! The 1960s!” costume designer Terry Dresbach tells EW. “You get to do something completely new. We all ran to those miniskirts like it was a life raft. It was a blast.”
But Dresbach and her crew had to be careful when styling Claire, now a stay-at-home mom married to an academic (Tobias Menzies). So she turned to her library of catalogs from Sears, JC Penney, and Montgomery Ward to find inspiration for the character’s 20th century wardrobe.
“I also have Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar from the 1960s. But if you go through those pages, you’ll find Twiggy and Veruschka von Lehndorff, gorgeous models wearing really extravagant clothes,” adds Dresbach. “That wouldn’t have worked for an academic and his wife in Boston. These are real people.”
Dresbach even relied on her mother’s fashion sense from back in the day when designing costumes for Claire. “Claire’s bathrobe is something my mom had! There are just a lot of personal moments in there.”
But as much as the costume department tried to make the wardrobe ordinary, Balfe always managed to make them into something else once the cameras started rolling.
“It was interesting to make these people look ordinary. Not an easy feat,” confesses Dresbach. “There’s a blouse and a skirt that Cait wears with a bow on it. I found something very similar in a Montgomery Ward catalog. Montgomery Ward was not high fashion by any stretch of anybody’s imagination. But I put it on Caitriona and it became the latest Dolce & Gabbana. It was like, ‘Wait a minute, how did you make that look so good?’ It was amazing.”
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.