Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Monthly Archives: April 2015

Claire Fraser – A new kind of collar




I don’t remember EXACTLY how this came to be.

I remember discussing with my team, new ways to play with scraps of fabric to make accessories, inspired by using leftover wool from the floor of the mill, to make Hugh Munro’s costume. One day, walking by the very talented Emily’s work table I found a square she had made of woven strips We decided to see if we could make it into a kind of fichu/collar.

That’s what I remember, but it is all a bit foggy.

I love this piece, and I believe it.










Geillis & a bit of Storytelling



Remember this? Geillis’s costume at The Gathering. Geillis wearing an ARISAID. No,not a Stevie Nicks knock off, but a woman’s version of a plaid.

We never really saw it unfortunately, because it is a costume that tells a story. If costume designers just wanted to make cool clothes, they would go into fashion design, instead of film, television and theater. We are storytellers.

This costume was worn pretty early in our journey with Geillis. The beginning of the tapestry. A lot more threads have been added over the months. The latest threads being woven in 110.

So here you go. See what I mean?



xlTSRk3xyVqexu5NpL1f4p6gh-dEvt8nqoG8-Mg6w6EWho IS this woman? This costume does not give answers, it is supposed to ask more questions, to draw you in. Into the story.

Of course, you have to actually see it. Ron. xo


The Coats – Episode 110







The coats. There has been quite a response to these two coats. What I find fascinating is the focus and interest Claire’s coat is receiving. We have seen it before, in a couple of episodes now. But the renewed interest is a great example of how costume design is so much more then ‘picking out cute clothes’. Costume designers create visual ensemble pieces, the same way you have an ensemble of actors, or musicians. The costumes must work together, harmonize, and bring out the best in each other.

We knew this was a very dramatic and key scene between these two characters. It keeps setting up their relationship. How they work together visually, how their costumes reflect and provide contrast to each other, and yet harmonize, is like creating music. Each instrument has it’s own part to play, but together, you have a symphony.

And it is not just the costumes, it is the environment. What are the surroundings, the colors, whether it is outside or on a set, it all has to come together as one.The real beauty is when it comes together without a lot of effort. I think what a lot of people are reacting to in this episode is our orchestra all finally finding harmony. We are playing now from the same sheet of music, we all know each other and have found kind of perfect symmetry. Gary Steele and I have worked together forever, and share a kind of visual intimacy that is the closest thing I have ever experienced to a marriage, other than my actual marriage. I don’t have to see anything he does ahead of time, and neither does he need to see what I am doing. Whatever we do separately, will work perfectly together. Ron is the conductor, the maestro. He brings together all of us and guides us to the harmony. It is hard to sing his praises enough as an artist, I always fear that what I say will be discounted because I am his wife. But, he really is a gifted and singular artist.

It can be a beautiful thing when it works.

Claire’s coat. Well, we have seen it before. I will put it on a mannequin this week so I can show the details. But for now, here it is.

This coat is dramatic. It served a couple of purposes, the first being that it kept our actress warm. We were sending her out into freezing temps everyday, on horseback. This is the hardest working actress in Hollywood, and we treasure her.

I wanted her to be cozy and comfortable. And beautiful.

I wanted drama. This is the part in the story where we begin to really understand just how courageous this women really is. She is about to head out into the Scottish Highlands with a bunch of pretty intimidating and fierce men. One woman alone. She had better be pretty fierce herself, and yet very much a woman. A strong woman able to hold her own. This coat supports that. And in this instance, does it really matter if we have a sign that loudly points to it’s history, and where it came from? We don’t have time for that in an hour long show, we have a story tell. Suffice it to sat that Mrs. Fitz has a prodigious number of trunks stored away, just for times like this.

Enter Geillis.

Who the hell is this strange woman. there is something about her that is clearly different, but what is it? I don’t want you to know the answer to that, I want you to not be able to place your finger on who or what she is. I want it to bother you a bit.

This little jacket is based on a real garment, as are all our costumes. Here it is.


I am so obsessed with this coat. I need to just recreate it at some point. But you are seeing the basic design for the first time in this ep.

The best part of the story, is that we were planning an entirely different coat. We had chosen this amazing fabric, and were literally waiting for it to arrive. It was nail biting time, and it was clear the day before shooting that the fabric was not going to arrive in time. One of those moments. You’d better figure it out, and fast. So we found this gold fabric on a shelf, but it was kind of dull. So we added the decorative stitching. But it still said nothing much. This was Geillis” In the woods with a Faery babe and Claire!! It had to be special, and by this time it is the night before shooting. I look over on Liz’s (our embroiderer) wall, and she has something pinned up their that looks like some sort of disease on the bark of a tree.

“What the hell is that ?” I ask our mad scientist. “Oh, just a wee experiment I did with scraps off the floor”, she says.

Cut to the chase, we are all digging scraps out of the garbage and off the floor. No, I am not exaggerating. Before you know it, Liz is doing some weird felting technique on the machine. We are patch working the bark growth onto this coat, and it finally starts to look like something. But it still hadn’t completely harmonized. It needed some pop. I pulled out this yellowish/chartreuse thread, and had Liz work that into the mossy growth. Finally we dyed cording to match for a closure, and there it was. When we put it on Lotte, it was absolute magic. That little point! It was gleeful, audacious, once again, Geillis challenges you! A perfect costume moment, created out of thin air, and some stuff from the trash.

I am frequently asked what my favorite garments are. These two coats are at the top of the list.

Here are some closeups. (pardon my bad photoshop. I had to block out S2 on the walls behind, and this post took FOREVER)




For all of the historians who will freak about Geillis, again. TRUST US, Trust that we know what we are doing, and that sometimes, you have to just let the story go about it’s business, and see what happens. I am just not one of those people who reads the last chapter of a book, first.

Episode 110 – The Costumes



There is a lot of ground to cover, a lot of costumes to tell you about. Wonderful Fan Faeiries have helped pull together pictures from the episode. I have put one of the actual costumes on a mannequin and photographed. But there are a lot more to do, so be sure to keep checking in for more detailed photos.

A lot of you have been asking to see more of our home here in Scotland, so I decided to write today’s blog from the music room. I think it is the most spectacular room in the house! I am going to need to camp out all afternoon, so this is a perfect spot.

Cuilean has taken up residence on the back f the chair, behind my shoulders. Not sure where that is coming from, but at least it is an armchair we added to the room, not one belonging to the owners. He is snoring IN MY EAR, literally.

Anyway, here is the music room! You can click on any picture to see it full size. Enjoy.

Ron on the second half…he is so fabulous.


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Thank You



I just need to take a minute to sing the praises of Outlander Fans. What an amazing bunch you all are.

A very special thanks to my blog administrators Mandy, and Candy (yes, I know). They give so much to keep this blog running, and to grant my requests, fix problems, beef up security, and all sorts of things I couldn’t explain if I tried.

They are very special and generous people, who take time out of their very busy lives to help make this possible.

I am so incredibly grateful to both of them.

Candida just stepped up to offer to do screen grabs for me, so I can actually post pictures of the actors in costume!!! How amazing is that?

And to so many of you. For the baked goods, and the Cuilean treats, the handmade jewelry, the knit pieces, and the constant love and support. It isn’t easy being so far from my family, and you cannot underestimate how much your support means.

So thank you all, so very, very much.







I was planning on writing a long and rapturous ode to Scottish Spring today. But there is a saying here, about Scotland having four seasons…all in one day. So here, is my comment on Scottish Spring.

Today’s weather report. Video Two was taken 10 minutes after Video One. My continuing love affair with Scotland.

(sorry, I was holding the phone wrong way on the first one! To watch, be sure to click on IMG 2891)


The Tartan Is Coming, The Tartan Is Coming!!






Outlander 2014


Looks like someone is finally selling the Outlander Tartan so many have been asking for!!!!