For us, the costumes on Outlander always steal the show. The popular TV series, which has just screened its fifth season, is based on Diana Gabaldon’s historical novels. In the series Claire Randall, a nurse from the Second World War, travels back in time to Scotland in 1743 just before the Jacobite risings. Not surprisingly, Outlander’s costumes have been admired by fans since the programme first aired in 2014, and they have ignited an interest in Scotland’s 18th-century styles across the world. There are many ‘How to’ tutorials on Youtube, popular with fans keen to recreate Outlander’s Jacobite styles.
We are continually impressed with the excellent care and attention that the Outlander’s creators put into the costumes.
And here’s a little secret; Tartan Plus Tweed in conjunction with Danielle Reay provided Jacobite sporrans which Outlander actors wore on the show. Why not see if you can spot them? It was an honour to be part of bringing eighteenth-century highland dress to living rooms across the world. Read on as we take a closer look at the show’s Jacobite costumes and the real-life history that surrounds them.
The Jacobite Risings
Outlander begins as Claire is transported to Scotland in 1743 amid rising tensions. The Jacobite risings were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars occurring between 1688 and 1746. The uprisings had the aim of returning House of Stuart to the throne of Great Britain after Parliament had deposed them during the Glorious Revolution. By 1743, Bonnie Prince Charlie began plotting an invasion, and from France, he rallied sympathisers in the Scottish Highlands (the real-life versions of Outlander’s Jamie Fraser). In July 1745, he sailed to the Scottish Isle of Eriskay to begin the last of the Jacobite rebellions, which would culminate in defeat at the Battle of Culloden.
A Jacobite’s Sporran
The sporrans on Outlander are leather pouches that attach to the waist, rather than where we tend to wear them now: on a chain or belt to hang below the waist. The sporran is an essential part of Highland wear. The Scottish Gaelic for ‘purse’, traditionally they were used to carry items such as food and money. The pocketless kilt providing no way for clansmen to carry their essential personal effects. From the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth-century sporrans were generally made with leather or skin and fitted with brass clasps, or occasionally silver for the clan chiefs. Only one sporran, found at Culloden, has been associated with a Jacobite battle, and this one, made of deerskin, currently resides at a Glasgow museum.
Modern-day sporrans tend to be decorative additions to kilts (although still useful for wallets and phones). The ornamentation of the sporran is chosen to complement the formality of dress worn with it.
Check out our blog ‘Types of Sporrans and when to wear them’ for more about the various kinds of sporrans.
The Fraser Clan Tartan
In Outlanders, the character of Jamie belongs to Clan Fraser, and his kilt’s tartan is in hues of blue and grey. Did you know that there is more than one Clan Fraser, each with separate clan chiefs? The highland (Clan Fraser of Lovat), associated with Inverness-shire, is a branch of the Clan of Fraser. Despite sharing a common origin, the two are now distinct families. In real-life, Clan Fraser of Lovat’s dress tartan is beautifully bold in shades of red and gold. Now, each clan can have several versions of their tartan. They will typically have a Dress tartan and a Hunting tartan, but many have Ancient and Modern types too. Jamie’s tartan doesn’t seem to be representative of any real-life Clan Fraser of Lovat tartan, but perhaps Outlander’s blue kilts are more fitting in creating an atmosphere of an 18th-century Scotland at war. In any case, the show feels authentic in transporting us to a turbulent time in Scotland’s past.
If, like us, you have a love for all things tartan, why not pick up one of our tartan facemasks? Made locally by our incredibly talented seamstress, the masks are the perfect addition to your ‘new normal’ outfit.
If you need help or advice with Highland Dress, our friendly sales team is always available. You can chat with them through our Live Chat option, call them at 01896 208 007 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org