Why Brianna realistically couldn’t wear 18th century clothing in Outlander

Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /

When we saw Brianna head through the stones in Outlander Season 4, Episode 5, her outfit most certainly wasn’t 18th-century fashion. That was never going to be the case and Terry Dresbach got it right once again.

At the very end of Outlander Season 4, Episode 5, we got to see Brianna head through the stones. While dressed in a cape that could pass for the 18th century, the rest of the outfit definitely isn’t. However, this isn’t a flaw in Terry Dresbach’s costuming. It’s perfect for the character.

Honestly, there’s been a lot of doubt for Dresbach over the years from some members of the fandom. Whether it’s to do with the bat dress (and constantly wearing it for half a season), the zippers on the boots, and now this, there have been questions about the legitimacy and decisions over the costumes.

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Please, can we just STOP?!?!

I’m personally going to miss Dresbach’s mind in Outlander Season 5. She always puts a world of effort into the research of the period and creating costumes to the very last detail. This time is no different. Putting together Brianna’s costume to head to the past is a work of art that should only be applauded.

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Brianna is a young 20-something!

First, remember what it was like as a willful 20-something. Okay, not everyone got to be a child, but Brianna certainly did. We’ve seen how bratty she can sometimes be and that’s partially because of her upbringing and the time period.

In a sense, she is a little spoilt but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Frank doted on her and she was loved. However, she also grew up in a home with two accomplished and driven parents. She was always going to be strong-headed and willful herself.

She’s had the freedom to be a child and, in a way, she still is one. This is another sign of that. She wouldn’t spend hours making the perfect costume like Claire did. She’d haphazardly throw something together and just hoped it would work.

Outlander — Photo credit: Outlander/STARZ — Acquired via TV Time
Outlander — Photo credit: Outlander/STARZ — Acquired via TV Time /

She didn’t have the time

Then there’s the time. Claire had time to prepare for her second trip to the past. Brianna has had two weeks and that’s if we believe she went through as Roger found out. There’s a chance she had 10 days or less.

Two weeks to find 18th-century clothing? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Especially when she would have spent some of that time researching what happened to her mother, the flight to Scotland, and then figuring out her next steps.

She would have just put everything together and ran with it. That means throwing things together she hoped would work from her own wardrobe.


There wasn’t anywhere to buy from

Those who expected 18th-century clothing assume that Brianna had somewhere to buy a dress from. That isn’t always the case. I’ll be honest and say when I was a 20-something, I wouldn’t have had a clue. Even now, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start.

Brianna wouldn’t have been in the state of mind to find a shop. It’s not like she could have gone to Google and found something! This was the 1970s. She had to work with whatever she had in her wardrobe and whatever she could source around her.

And then, you’ve got to remember she’s a college student. There may have been money from her parents left over, but she would have still needed to consider expenses. It’s clear from the letter that she plans on coming back.

The Outlander costume was perfect with all this considered.

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What did you think of Brianna’s costume? Did you expect something more authentic or were you happy to see her own attempt? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Outlander Season 4 continues on Sundays at 8/7c on CBS.