Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Waistcoat Construction — Back Lacing

Home Outlander Costuming Discussion Forums Characters Jamie Waistcoat Construction — Back Lacing

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  • #1557

    (I posted this as a comment on the Garrison Commander post, but hopefully the forum will be a better place to ask this! Or maybe there will be an offshoot category for general historical outfit construction? I can move it.)

    Wondering about the lacing — was the idea that it can help save fabric if you need to take the waistcoat in/let it out? (Like, no need to sew a completely new one just for loosening/tightening.)

    I’m adding in Theresa’s comment too: “I’m also wondering about the lacing: is it to make it wearable by someone who’s broader/rounder than Jamie? Sort of an 18th-c. one-size-fits-all garment?”

    It’s hard searching online for an explanation since when I search “men’s waistcoats 18th century” or similar, I mostly find fancy upperclass versions since more of those exist as museum pieces. I did notice that the French TV character Nicolas le Floch (middle class, 1760s) also wears a laced-back waistcoat as well as a common “uniform” piece.

    Does anyone have thoughts? Or suggestions for search terms? 😉 Thanks all.

Viewing 5 reply threads
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    • #1604
      Pat Lacemaker

      I just googled laced back waistcoat 18th century
      and got a lot of hits. Photos, articles, etc.

    • #1659
      Terry Dresbach

      I would think that would make sense. Women’s clothing also laced up. What was the alternative?

    • #1663

      The thought and techniques that went into clothing back then are so beautiful. There is a lot to be said for “the old ways”.

    • #3424
      Barbara Morck

      Scroll down to the end of this link:

      They’re selling waistcoats and back-lacing. Apparently, if the waist measurement equals or exceeds chest measurement, back lacing is necessary. Obviously, Jamie’s waist doesn’t exceed his chest, but I’ve wondered if he inherited the waistcoat from his father…

      • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Barbara Morck. Reason: link didn't show
      • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Barbara Morck. Reason: one more try to put link in
      • #3539

        I think the back lacing that they are talking about is just at the bottom of the coat–not the whole way down like Jamie’s. So laced from the lower back down.

    • #3538

      Vests still have fitting mechanisms in 2014. They usually have that little ribbon that you can loosen or tighten to make sure it sits smoothly under your coat.

      That vest makes the callus on my middle finger hurt from thinking about all those hand-bound eyelets (no idea if the costume has hand-bound eyelets, but if it were traditional it obviously would have been hand sewn).

    • #8663

      Sorry – I posted this question related to the episode and then spotted this forum thread here. Still making my way around the forum. Blog fairies can feel free to delete my previous post if it is one too many.

      As you said Terry it is a bit like a dial phone & I remember having a neighborhood party line. Wasn’t always easy to use but eventually you could make a call.

      Reposting the question here:


      In reviewing the photos from “The Garrison Commander” episode I’m curious to know if you consciously made the choice to use lacing in the construction up the back of Jamie’s waistcoat to provide both a fitted shape that complimented his build and if it was meant to serve as a visual reminder of the scars that were hidden beneath the layers of his Highland clothing?

      ~Or~ Is that just my own projection because of BJR’s graphic recollection of the flogging that had preceded Jamie & Claire’s conversation about the necessity to marry in order for her to avoid further physical harm at BJR’s hand?

      In that scene, when Jamie turns to walk away from her the tight crisscross pattern of the lacing and the stains up the back of his waistcoat remind me of the scars from the flogging.

      I wondered it that was intentional or accidental?


      • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Hadley_LP.
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