What you do is art. Really. Taking characters and plots and representing them in clothing is, in truth, creating wearable art and I applaud you for that. You have technical understanding that is far beyond what I can even imagine. Perhaps more than any other visual element of the screen, you capture characters and provide a visual touchstone for viewers.
Costume designers of historical and historically-inspired film and television: Please stop claiming that what you're doing is research-based or "authentic" if it's really not.
It's ok. Your job is to create costumes, not museum reproductions. Your work is for film and television, for entertainment, not for living history museums and reenactors and other educational outlets.
I admit, this is the piece that set me off:
but even more than the costume itself, the interview from Yahoo.com and the claim that the piece "is based on lots and lots of research. We looked at a million pictures."
Outlander isn't intended to be a historically pristine piece of work--the premise alone veers it toward historical fantasy, and a lot of people are enjoying it for that. And that's great.
But to give an interview discussing all the research you did--the "million" images you had pinned to your wall...well, I'm forced to ask...did you look at them? I mean, really look? Long enough to realize that no sleeves in 18th century gowns ever looked like they were ripped off of a gauze fairy dress (aside from, perhaps, "fancy dress" which is something very different from a wedding dress)? Long enough to see that visible boning channels are rarely seen in 18th century outer garments, even though many do include boning? Long enough to see how that boning is incorporated and what purpose it serves? Long enough to understand how stomachers are typically constructed? To see that, actually, sequins *could* have been used?
And that's fine. Really. It's fine if you took inspiration from historical images and then said, "I'm not creating a reproduction here, I'm creating a costume." Fine choice. And I'd say that this costume does exactly what you wanted--it exudes a kind of roughspun opulence and I imagine that's precisely the aesthetic your viewership is enjoying in the show.
What's not fine is claiming a position of authority and discussing your "research" as though it yielded an example of correct 18th century clothing like this:
One example out of hundreds--as a comparison point. This seems similar to the style the costume gown presented above appears to represent, which is why I chose it.
It did not.
It yielded a beautiful costume, a gown with elements of 17th century (the off-shoulder silhouette--I wonder if you encountered the fairly common portraits of individuals in older costume and attributed it to the wrong era?), 18th century (the embroidery, the "stomacher" and "open robe" effect), and Renaissance fantasy (those sleeves are truly beautiful!).
Here's the thing. I don't make art. I make researched clothing items for educational purposes. I am, self-confessed here, boring. But I don't claim that what I do is anything other than a handcraft, a historical presentation, and, on a good day, preserving a lifeway. I don't claim that I'm making art. So, maybe, let's each claim and be proud of what we do? Leave historical representation to the anal retentive among us and stop making a claim that the art you produce is authentic recreation?
Unless you want to pursue historical authenticity. Then please, dive in. The waters are deep and, somehow, full of rabbit holes (when did rabbits learn to swim?). The rewards are often evasive, as those who understand the effort you made to nail a few details are fewer than those who appreciate a beautiful costume. And you have to give up some elements of creativity while embracing others--making glitter-thread out of mica is going to have to go by the wayside in favor of perfecting your spaced backstitch. But I swear--it's fun. It truly is. And greatly rewarding in its own way.
I'm not going to claim that complete historical authenticity is the right path for every costume or every costumer. That's not my place, nor do I truly believe it. However, if you claim authenticity, produce it. And if you don't produce it, don't claim it.