Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Colum and Lettitia – The Gathering


I thought this would be great to look at as it finishes up Lettitia’s costumes, but also lets you see the two complimentary costumes together, Colum and Letticia, Laird and Lady of Leoch. We found these extraordinary gold laces very early in, during our prep. It really helped define how I wanted to design Scotland, and create a visual difference between Scottish aristocracy and French or English.

It is not accurate for the time, but it created an important subliminal difference, and made the characters something other that carbon copies of French Fashion. Paris was the epicenter of fashion in Europe, but culture and nationality cannot be so easily dismissed. If you look at 18th century fashion in Russia, England, or Italy, the French influence is very dominant, but you can see the cultural aesthetic in the clothing of the different regions. We wanted to do that in Scotland as well, and like using the knit pieces, took the leap with these particular laces, which are very rustic in their design, but still opulent, in order to help tell the story.

Marrying together the McKenzie tartan in both Colums plaid and Letitia’s arisaid, was another important touch.

They are very ornate costumes, with opulent fabrics and jewelry (Lettitia also had magnificent earrings), which helped establish them as legitimate aristocracy, not wild primitives.

Gary Lewis, who plays Colum said, “Ochh, Terry (roll all those R’s when you read my name said by anyone Scottish), that’s grand. This lace looks like Scotland!”

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13 thoughts on “Colum and Lettitia – The Gathering

    1. martasullivan2014

      It is interesting that the plaids are fringed. I always thought that they were lengths of material that uses the natural weaving selvedges. Was this for convenience or was it done this way in the 18th century?

      1. weescotlass

        The fringe you see on some of the plaids is the normal fraying of the cut edges. If less or no fringe is wanted, I sew a single stitch line at the cut edge to help prevent this from happening.
        When I make an arisaid, I use 2.5 or 3 yards of 60″ wide plaid. The width goes around the body and the length becomes the skirt and shawl. I do cheat if requested and sew a casing for a thin belt at the waist line. This makes it much easier to put on and it stays put.
        Hope that helped.

  1. jazzgoil

    Terry I am so happy to found your blog. Right from the first show I was so impressed with the costumes and the level of detail that goes into all the outfits. it is so wonderful to be able to see the detail now in the photos your posting for us. It must be a staggering amount of work! I wish I could be a fly on the wall behind a scene that is being filmed to see the gorgeousness in motion along with the actors of course.

    Cheers Patti

  2. Cocolaluz

    Beautiful! Both costumes.
    Was the tartan piece pleated and sawn on the Lettitia”s dress or just pinned on it ? I don’t know if it was the way women used to wear it, but if not, the idea is wonderful and quite elegant.

  3. EllenSpins

    So that’s what gold lace looks like! Thanks for showing me something I’ve wondered about. Funny thing is, I’ve read period books for years without knowing what the clothing written about actually might have looked like. I mean, you can read the definition of an arisaid in lots of places, but until you’ve actually seen one, it’s all a guess. I really like that you’re filing in the blanks!
    The costumes are magnificent and really help to bring the story to life.

  4. Katiscotch22

    Honest to goodness these outfits are nothing short of fabulous. You have done such an amazing job Terry. Since Outlander and all the tuition you’ve given us I’m scrutinizing every costume I see in a period film….some are lacking. You have set the bar for every other costume designer.

  5. Brooke

    Get out with all those Harris tweeds! We had no idea without a close up. That trim is gorge….The linen-y way it mimics the tartan…the rusticity…..how do you say Oy Vey in Gaelic?!

  6. kukrae

    ::thud:: Dear Lord, I am in Heaven…
    If the Outlander store wants to create an item to sell…let them sell yardage of that beautiful tartan!

    I absolutely love the jewels that you added to Letitia’s look. It raises her status in an obvious yet beautiful way. I’d like to ask how you pleated the tartan for her? She’s not wearing a belt and I’m guessing the shoulder and hip diamond pieces are actually pins holding the tartan.

    You created a rustic opulence that is simply sublime.


  7. Anna

    I really love Letitia’s dress here (and Colums too 🙂 ). Since I’m making an 18th century garb myself, and have an arisaid, I wonder how it’s fastenend. Is there a belt under?

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