Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Category Archives: Terry and/or Ron



spoiler alert
Usu. a term to describe when crucial elements of a movie (or tv show) are about to be revealed (i.e. the ending, character deaths, a twist, etc.)
**Spoiler Alert!**

I would like to give everyone a heads up that I want to keep this a spoiler free site. So please be very careful, those of you who have read the books, not to tell those who may visit here, who have NOT read the books, what is going to happen. I will have to unnaprove the comment. Something I really hate to do, because there might be other interesting things in your post.
So if your post in the forums vanishes, you know why.
Please post again, but without spoilers.

Thanks so much,

Season Two!


I am excited about Season Two, don’t get me wrong. It’s a costume designers dream to design 18th century Paris.
But it is HUGE. Seriously HUGE.
We are going to have to make about a thousand costumes for extras before we even start on Principal or Supporting Cast. In four months.
We will do it, and marshall all of our resources, hope that we can keep our crew, hope that we can pull off a miracle in a short amount of time, hope that nothing goes wrong.
Huge. Seriously.

Was there REALLY time travel????


I am not so sure that actually happens.


Book Club Note


Maybe it is best to do it when we wrap Season 1, and I am back in the States for a bit.


Book Club??


Debating about some sort of a book club. As I research Season Two, I thought some of you might want to follow along.
Not exactly sure how it would work, but something to think about.



For our daughter.



I just checked the blog to find a post by Helena Jensen taking me to task about what kind of research I do, and how long it takes us to lace a corset on Outlander.

Hers was one of many posts of a similar nature. Apparently there quite a few blogs and forums that are concerned with how I do my job. I thought I would take the opportunity to answer all of the queries and concerns.

Here is Helena’s post:

“Your definition of research is not one that a serious academic would recognise.

And the idea that it takes twenty minutes to put on a corset, stays, jumps or bodies is risible.”

Actually Helena, you actually have NO idea what kind of research we have done or not done. Or apparently, what my job is.

The point of costume design for a television show or a film is not to educate the viewer about how long it takes to put on a corset. It is to tell a story about people, it is to transport viewers to another place and often another time, and to help them believe the story. There are many approaches to that process. Some choose to tell that story completely out of context, it has been a device used in theater for centuries. We have seen Shakespearean works presented in many guises.

On Outlander I have chosen along with other members of our creative team to tell the story in a historical context. Ron Moore, the shows creator has said that we will try to be accurate, but something we choose might just be from 1760, instead of 1744, since storytelling is our goal, not making a documentary.

I am sorry that you and some others take issue with the work we have done. It is disappointing since we have put tremendous effort into trying to do good and creative work.

We had seven weeks to make hundreds and hundreds of costumes. At the beginning of those seven weeks we stood in an empty warehouse and started to build a show, We put in walls, lighting, tables, sewing machines, hired a crew and started making costumes. Gowns, frock coats, corsets, stocks, breeches, petticoats, bodices, skirts, fichus, gloves, belts, sporrans, waistcoats, redcoat uniforms, 1940s clothing, military uniforms. We wove meters and meters of tartan to make kilts. We had shoes built, we made hats. And that is just for SOME of the hundreds and hundreds of extras we have this season. We simultaneously made costumes for our actors, when we got them (Caitriona Balfe was cast two weeks before shooting). We had to design and make 12 of those white shifts you see on screen, and 6 of every other principal costume you see.
We had to plan for stunts and sword fights, bullet wounds, maintaining continuity and comfort in freezing cold rain and mud. We pounded, dyed, sandblasted, torched, baked and painted all those costumes so they would look used and worn, instead of pristine as they are on some shows.

My stellar and dedicated team has worked eighteen hour days to get this show on the air, and then have continued to do so over the past year, making a couple of thousand costumes and dressing a few thousand people over and over, at 4am, over the course of the show.

And after we finished those seven weeks and the cameras started rolling, we started making all the other hundreds of costumes for extras and principals for the rest of the season.

We have fought and argued to keep bum rolls, fichus, stocks and pretty much every conceivable period correct garment on the show with those who wanted us to modernize like so many other shows. I do regular interviews with reporters who all ask why I don’t make it contemporary.
I have a similar answer to the one I have given you. “Because it is not our show”

I am incredibly proud of the amazing work the consummate professionals on my team have done. They have worked themselves into complete exhaustion because they want viewers to have a rewarding experience and because they would never consider doing anything less.
So, what we do has absolutely nothing to do with wether it takes 10 or 20 or 60 minutes to lace a corset. It is not about whether our shape is created by a bum roll or a pocket, it is not about how many stitches we use to make a hem, or if we have done the same kind of research an academic would, or anything else of that nature. So let me go on the record about that. I don’t expect to put any of our characters in neon spandex, but if I or the others I work with decide that is the creative choice we want to make, that is what we will do.

Hopefully that will answer the complaints, once and for all. But I kind of doubt it. LOL
Other than that, I will co-opt Diana’s answer and just say Pfffffft. It just takes so much less time to write.

Pleasant and Polite Interaction



I don’t care if you disagree with me, or you think I am a hack, or if you think you could do my job so much better than I do. But this is my house, and when you come in, if you put your feet up on the furniture or are rude to anyone in the house, you will be asked to leave. In other words you will be deleted.

Go scream to your friends about what a horrible hack I am, but if you are here, say it politely.

Thanks so much.

My absolute FAVORITE REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!


Says everything I have been saying about Outlander for twenty years, and why I love the books. A romance featuring a hot guy in a kilt, might not get me through even one read. But a strong, interesting, interested, courageous, complex woman at the heart of an adventure? A woman who nothing, not even the loss of two men she deeply loves, will take her down, or deter her from living a rich, engaged life, is worth ten reads.
Add an interesting man who loves and respects her for all of the above reasons, who enters into a long marriage between two equals, makes it even better.

Feminist, not a dirty word, not a word to fear or to run from. A word and a state of being to celebrate.
A glorious day when you type the word feminist into Google search, and a picture of Ron and Diana shows up attached to this article!!!!!!


Helps if you put the link into the post!!!!!