Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Getting Dressed

74

Getting dressed in the 18th century was no small feat. There were many layers of clothing, most of them tied and laced in ways that made getting out of them as painstaking as getting into them,

When we shot the scene of Claire getting dressed with Mrs. Fitz, Ron insisted that we film the entire sequence. “Are you sure?” I asked, “It takes about 30 minutes !!” But he insisted. He knew it would help to tell the story of a stranger in a strange land. Since the beginning Ron has said that the world Claire lands in, had to be as foreign as if she had landed on another planet.

If any of us, who throw on underwear, t shirt and jeans, before leaving the house, suddenly dropped into 1947, we would have to don underwear, garter belt, seamed stockings, dress, gloves, and hat before going out.  Actually, you would have to put on most of that, (sans hat and gloves) every day, just to take care of kids and house.

Now imagine a woman of 1947 dropping into 1745. It would have been as alien as dropping us into 1947.

1. No underwear. They didn’t wear it. What did they do when they got their periods??, everyone always asks. Lots of debate on this one. Some historians maintain that there was a very different attitude to menstruation than there is today, the smell of menstrual blood was considered erotic, and obvious menstruation was a sure way of knowing when a young woman was fertile, and an older woman no longer was. And, there were no toilets except for the very wealthy. Most people did not carry chamber pots with them. One can assume people did there business wherever and whenever was needed.

2. Chemise. You lived in this garment, always. You even bathed in it, the one time a year you might take a bath.

3. Corset. It takes about 20 minutes to lace up a corset. Great for the posture and great for the back the back when hauling around children and pots of boiling laundry that weighed a few hundred pounds. Think of it as sort of an 18th century back brace for very hard working women.

4. Bum roll, or pannier. Wide hips were/are a sign of fertility, so either item exaggerated a woman’s hips and accentuated a small waist. Children were something of a commodity at that time, so fertility was incredibly important. It was often a matter of life and death for poor families, who needed the free labor provided by children. For the nobility, children were equally important for securing lines of succession and property.

5. Bodice, frequently a separate garment, worn on the outside of the corset, our blouse , or top. Most upperclass women wore dresses, though they were often open in front, showing the layer beneath.

6. Petticoat, worn over bum roll or pannier.

7. Underskirt, worn over petticoat. If you were wealthy it was embroidered or embellished.

8. Overskirt. The skirt worn on the outside. Either plain and functional or elaborately decorated.

8. Stomacher, a rigid board or panel covered in fabric, worn on front of bodice, either behind laces, or sewn on.

9. Stockings, shoes, mitts, cloaks, pockets. Accessories I will cover in another post. Too much to list, too much to wear.

What an ordeal.

The day we shot this scene was excruciating. It took forever. There would be these long periods of deadly silence, as Annette laced up the corset. She finally started humming a song to fill the silence.You could literally hear everyone squirming behind the camera.

I enjoyed the moment thoroughly as camera almost never waits for costumes, lots of other things, but rarely costumes. There was a lovely validation for years and years of not having enough time to do what one needs to do.

74 thoughts on “Getting Dressed

  1. Avatardarlenecates64

    Your designs fit efortlessly into the story. I cannot imagine the headache of dressing each day. It looks like quite a bother. It was surely a complicated time to be a fertile woman for sure. I do feel that menstruation is much less an issue then when I was young. Today many girls are very comfortable and not embarrassed by what is natural. One should never be embarrassed about being a woman. Just my opinion.

  2. AvatarLinda White

    Wow, made me tired just to read about getting dressed. The first thing to go when I get home from work is my bra. I will think twice before I complain about how restrictive it is. Thanks for another informative history lesson.

  3. AvatarJean (@whiskyeyedgirl)

    The whole scene was wonderful, from Mrs. Fitz throwing the bed curtains open, Bear McCreary’s wonderful change in music, the quick mug of broth and then the dressing sequence! It really did give the audience an idea what Claire was going through. Not the mention the bed chamber that really looked like what was described in the book. Off subject but the tapestries in Colum’s room and the room itself was spot on. I could go on and on. All of the different pieces came together flawlessly in last night’s episode!

    1. AvatarMarc Schaftenaar

      Yet simpler in more other ways: no rushing, no ratrace, no social media, more social control. Wearing different clothing, which might take moretime to get dressed for the person not used to it (and as a re-enactor and living historian, I am used to it by now) is the least of your problems in those days. Even in pictures from the 20’s and 30’s you see women with a lot more elaborate clothing who look decent, even if the circumstances are not that great. Let alone the frontierswomen in the mid 19th century. Fact is that in this day abnd age, we thing tight clothing = uncomfortable and takes longer to dress. We dress loosely and that is the accepted norm: wide shirts, comfy trousers, etc. As soon as women wear heels, the complainint starts whilst men loathe the necktie.

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  5. nanci712nanci712

    I loved that scene. The look on Claire/Cait’s face as the corset was pulled tight was authentic and priceless. I’m so happy Ron wanted to put that sequence into the show.

  6. AvatarDeborah Harvey

    One reason women’s clothes were simplified after WWI—other than the influence of Coco Chanel—was that there were no longer any ladies’ maids or other servants to help them get dressed. Until then, it was a two–person job. There was even a specific time of day for upper class ladies to have their romantic liaisons, called a cinq à sept (“5 to 7”), when women were changing for dinner after tea: it was the only time of day they had their many layers of clothes off.

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  8. AvatarRita Wood

    I was wondering what the reasoning was behind the bum roll and that certainly fits in with the dialogue we always get in historical novels about women being good breeders because they have wide hips. It just strikes me as so odd that they cover themselves with all those layers but always have plenty of cleavage on display. Thanks so much for sharing all your historical tidbits on fashion and the times. Your beautiful work supports your dedication to the art. The Outlander costuming as a whole is outstanding.

    1. Avatarjauncourt

      Bum rolls support heavy skirts and distribute the weight over the hips, as well as helping to provide a fashionable silhouette. Between the tabs on the stays and the bumroll, the weight of the heavier, fabric intensive skirts of wealthier women is distributed to the whole torso, rather than just the waist.

      Lower class or working women didn’t always wear a skirt support, as working petticotes are usually narrower and somewhat shorter, and therefore not as heavy.

  9. AvatarBelvane

    Every new post from you is cause for celebration. I love the inside look you provide, but it’s the prism of your own mind, your point of view and passions, that are the real treat of this blog. Please, keep sharing!

  10. Avatarmelissahasobservations

    Fascinating piece of history and makes me so glad I can wear jeans and t-shirts on a daily basis. I’ve never given much thought to how difficult it must have been with all those layers. I doubt any woman would leave a man like Jamie, but the ‘no underwear’ thing at that time of the month, would give me pause…..

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  14. AvatarDeb Meyer

    I loved the line about “It’s from France” and the acceptance of that explanation. Would the women not be menstruating as often, given the early bethrothals and marriages, frequent pregnancies, breastfeeding,and various dietary deficiencies? Girls would often not reach puberty until age 16 or so, as opposed to 10 or 12 years old nowadays. Even so, with no deodorant, hygiene products or even decent shampoo, that life would make my skin crawl!

    1. Avatarterrydresbach

      I think that is a key point. Women of child bearing age were marriageable. And then they bore children until they hit menopause.
      Between pregnancy and breastfeeding, women probably had a lot fewer periods than they do today.

  15. Avatarkateleslie1

    Terry — This section is fantastic! Also reminded me of Ron’s entertaining remarks at the January fan event in LA — About filming Claire getting dressed…& your instruction to him about showing the writers every minute of the footage. No doubt the complexities were eye-opening to them!

    Interesting…the attitudes at that time about menstruation. Made me think back to that film & presentation that 12-yr-old girls & moms got in 6th grade. Left me understanding physiologically what would happen to my body before too long. But…confused about the connection to love, marriage & babies. In the car on the way home, I asked my mom. Her response was “those questions would be answered by my husband when I got married some day.” And since “good girls” didn’t talk about sex, I didn’t understand much until my senior year of high school. College prep biology class spilled the beans! I’m 61 now & happy to report my 85-yr-old mom & I have been the best of friends for many years. And we talk about anything & everything!

  16. AvatarElizabeth (@leezechka)

    People were not pissing and pooping and bleeding all over the place. They should research before making idiotic claims like this. They did not wear underwear the way we do, that does not mean they did not have methods for managing menstruation. Outhouses and chamber pots date back centuries and could be very elaborate.

    Poor people did not just poop anywhere either, because they were not stupid.

      1. AvatarLeia Mehlman

        There were public bath houses all over medieval Europe dating back centuries, there is documentation regarding ‘menstrual clouts’ dating back centuries (and certainly prior to the 18th), there is documentation of 16th century women’s hygiene/bathing rituals.
        With all due respect these are not ‘differing opinions’ but documented fact. People had chamber pots, Queen Elizabeth I had a flush toilet. Yes, sanitary sewers were not yet a public good, but people DID know to keep their water sources and sewage separate (as the many historic cisterns, cess-pits and the like do demonstrate).

        People did bath more than once a year, and they even practiced oral hygiene. Smallpox vaccination was happening in Turkey and a demonstration of it was made to the Royal Society in England in 1714, and a very famous English woman, Mary Wortley Montague introduced widespread variolation (as it was called) in 1721 from Ottoman Turkey.

        And as for corsets, it may take 20 minutes to lace one up, but there are ways of lacing a corset (spiral lacing anyone) in which one can ‘pre lace’ the corset and simply loosen the ties to get it slipped on and off (and I’ve done it myself) there are extant examples of front lacing stays, (as women did not all have servants or assistants). So people peeing and pooping and bleeding as they stood and the old trope of ‘bathing once per year’ is not an accurate picture either.

        1. Avatarterrydresbach

          As I said there are many differing views of what sanitation was like, and peoples methods of keeping clean varied greatly. Yes, the queen had a flush toilet. The Seine was toxic, raw swage was dumped into it along with waste from Paris tanneries. 18th century London was disease ridden due to poor sanitation practices.
          I have absolutely no desire to lose this blog to an argument about sanitation. Everyone can read all of the conflicting information and come to their own conclusions.Maybe the acreage citizen in the 18th Century took a hot shower every morning.

          1. Avatarterrydresbach

            An excerpt out of a thesis I found. Speculative of course, as everyone who lived then is dead 😉

            (posted by Versailles1017 – 2/o3/05
            (re-formatted by ax71489 – 2/03/05)

            No roll-on anti-perspirant, no dandruff shampoo, no pads/tampons, no toothpaste nor toothbrush….. how did people function without what are considered (in the USA anyway) life necessities?

            What a horrible thought…. the beautifully gowned and coiffed Marie Antoinette with head lice and b.o. I don’t know about the head lice, but chances are she did have b.o. that would bring tears to your eyes.

            Attempts were made to deal with such problems, usually without much success. Compounding the problem were long-held beliefs that were untrue. One such belief was that water was not only bad for you, but could be lethal if one exposed their body to it.

            Let’s look at some of the problems, the attempts to remedy them, and the beliefs that left vermin at Versailles, foul odors at Fontainebleau, cologne at St. Cloud and no tampons at Trianon.

            Most historians agree that the 17th and 18th centuries were among the worst periods in terms of physical hygiene. Although hot baths and public baths of the Middle Ages still existed, the French regime sounded the death knell for this tradition. The French regime was a period of extreme modesty and, as a result, nudity was frowned upon. It was for this reason that people when washing did not disrobe. Into the 18th century, filth was considered beneficial thus causing people to wash even less. Medical theory of the time was that germs (then called miasmas) floated about in the air and entered the body though the skin, contaminating it. Water (particularly hot water) was harmful since it opened the pores of the skin, making the individual more vulnerable to disease. It is said that Louis XVI took one bath in his life; on his wedding day. Because of the limited use of water for bathing, soap did not make a major inroad in French culture until the late 1700s. In 1791, Nicholas Leblanc, a French chemist, patented a process for making sodium carbonate from common salt. Sodium carbonate is the alkali that combines with fat to form soap. In the 1700s, cleanliness and hygiene were sought in white linen. Because of this, until the end of the 18th century, most people bathed ‘dry’ or, in other words, using as little water as possible as a cleaning agent. Linen absorbed perspiration, sebum [skin oil], and purified the body, and hence became a sign of the wearer’s sophistication and cleanliness. (This is why Antoinette was so concerned about the lack of linen in the NARRATIVE OF ROSALIE LAMORLIERE).

            Therapeutic values were attributed to dirtiness. For example, urine soaked diapers were just dried before using them again; they were not washed. Urine was used as a beauty product to treat acne, among other things. People avoided washing their hair since scalp oil was considered excellent for shiny, healthy hair. As a result, most people had head lice. If you could manage to endure the stench of a person, his house would finish you off. Chances are you would smell several chamber pots. Separate toilet rooms draining to a cesspool weren’t common until the 19th century. Courtiers have written that Versailles had a particular stench; since it was a long distance between chamber pots, one relieved oneself in a corner, any corner.

            For the nobility, cleanliness was attempted through the use of cosmetics: perfume and cologne to chase away bad odors, powder to dry greasy hair, etc. Artificial means, predominately wigs, were used to provide the appearance of cleanliness. Fragrances were used in great quantity and containers for them were an important part of early toilet sets. Most scents were heavy and sweet and were kept in glass or crystal bottles with glass stoppers ornamented with silver, gold and other metals.

            An increased awareness of the benefits of hygiene in the later 18th century brought a change of attitude toward an unpleasant aspect of life that had been accepted for generations—the prevalence of lice, bedbugs and fleas. Bedbugs were a particularly common nuisance even in royal palaces. Marie Antoinette introduced an innovative remedy when, in the late 1770s, she ordered beds of polished iron from the royal locksmith Courbin. Since the bugs could not nest in the iron bed frames as they could in wooden ones, the royal children were protected from bites. Iron beds then became the standard in hospitals, homes and dormitories.

            The peasants, on the other hand, settled for changing the shirt they used as their underclothing a few times a month and washing the parts of their body not covered by clothing (face, neck, hands, arms) quickly with cold water.

            Everyone had poor dental hygiene. Since there were no toothbrushes, people settled for rubbing their gums and teeth with a cloth. They would then scrape the remains of food from their teeth with toothpicks.

            Make-up can cover a variety of flaws. Dry perfumes and powders were in abundance from the time of Louis XIV, when saffron and flower pollen were used to make faces colorful. In the 18th century, men and women alike went to great lengths in order to make themselves appear almost unnatural. Besides whitening their faces, they used blue coloring to touch up their blue vein lines. Black silk beauty spots were initially used to conceal blemishes and smallpox scars and sometimes reached astonishing sizes and had significance associated with their placement.

            Other methods of flaw concealment involved using make-up with a lead- or mercury base that would penetrate the skin and leave dark, permanent lines or blemishes. Yet the French found a way around this problem; they would melt down bee’s wax and rub it over the affected spots, then cover the spots with make-up. One had to steer clear of the fireplace, or the face would literally melt.

            The use of cosmetics, particularly the use of rouge, became a class indicator. Good girls didn’t; bad girls did. Prostitutes placed rouge on their lips and cheeks to mimic the effects of sexual arousal. (It is well known that the body undergoes a natural flush during arousal—the skin glows, the lips engorge with blood. Red lipstick and pink face powder imitated these natural effects.)

            . Obviously, some of the more unusual practices regarding hygiene left one susceptible to illness and in need of health care. At the top of the list were respiratory diseases and weather-related problems such as chilblains caused by the cold of winter. These were followed by dysentery and intestinal worms, generally caused by poor water quality. The small rivers in the cities were used as open sewers and, in the country, the manure pile was often found close to the well. For peasants, the strain and difficulty of their daily work often led to back pain, hernias and rheumatism. Finally, mange, toothaches, abscesses and cancer as well as venereal diseases
            rounded out a bleak health forecast.

            People used various ‘home remedies’ to treat most problems since most could not afford the services of a doctor or surgeon. All too often the intervention of a doctor or a surgeon made the situation worse since, at the time, most treatments involved bleeding, enemas or purging. The ‘home remedies’ were generally gentler since most were based on plants. Unfortunately, some ‘home remedies’ were based more on superstition and witchcraft than on actual cures. For example, maple syrup, urine and sheep excrement was used to cure coughing; lead grains removed corns, and crushed lice treated jaundice.

            Finally, if all treatment failed, divine intercession remained the last recourse. Thus people were encouraged to pray to St. Lucy for help with eye problems, or to St. Blaise for throat problems.

            Another little quickie list of info: http://listverse.com/2012/10/22/10-revolting-facts-about-the-18th-century/

      2. AvatarTrystan L. Bass

        You may not want to ‘lose this post to an argument about sanitation,’ but you started it by making wild speculations about history with little or no citations. There is a vast community of historical scholars & reenactors who live & breathe this period, so we naturally take issue with this kind of misrepresentation.

        Just one example: soap has been made since the ancient Babylonians. The basic ingredients are animal fats and wood ash, commonly found in most areas. And Castile soap, one of the most luxurious soaps still available, was made for royalty in Castile Spain in the 1500s & exported all over Europe including France & England. (Btw, sodium carbonate is only the water softener used in laundering, it’s not required for soap — Nicholas Leblanc’s discovery was more important for producing glass in large quantities.)

        Also, you state “Bodice, frequently a separate garment” — extant garments I’ve seen in person & in museums just as frequently show gowns as one piece, bodice & skirts as one. And “Stomacher, a rigid board covered in fabric” — extant versions I’ve seen are simply fabric, with no indication of stiffening, as they’re pinned over the stays & have no need of further stiffness. The two images of extant garments you show (gown & stomacher) disprove your own text, being a complete gown & non-stiffened stomacher. Just saying.

        1. Avatarterrydresbach

          Thank you for the instruction. I am only a costume designer who has been doing this for 25 years, so please forgive my ignorance. I have made both full gowns and bodices and skirts, hence the word “frequently”, as opposed to “always”. We have made stomachers that are both stiff and soft in the show, but I bow to your obviously superior knowledge and experience.
          I look forward to more of your pleasant instruction.

      3. AvatarTrystan L. Bass

        Speaking of research, take a look at this satirical sketch by William Hogarth, circa 1738, of actresses getting dressed in a barn. At the time, actresses were though to have pretty low morals, but you can clearly see a chamber pot in the foreground lower right — http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Strolling_Actresses_Dressing_in_a_Barn,_William_Hoarth_1738.jpg If they could afford a pot to piss in (& the most famous English satirist of the day thought it a common enough thing to include in a scene), surely others had ones too.

      4. AvatarMarc Schaftenaar

        The link http://listverse.com/2012/10/22/10-revolting-facts-about-the-18th-century/ is nice, but the same repetition of clichés. It’s all secondary sources. Dental hygene was not as bad as we suspect: Tootbrushes were available, but not to all, and were fairly new. Nevertheless,dental care was not uncommon. Also, many people did not consume masses of sugar like they do nowadays, therefore tooth decay was not as rife as today. Soldiers, for example, needed a good set of teeth to bite off the paper cartridges. The Marquis the Sade comments in his diary how Dutch women had bad teeth since they drank chocolate and tea the whole time.We can assume that, since he makes a special mention of it, that it is uncommon to have bad teeth at a young age.
        Paris was indeed like an open swere, but that’s the exeption to the rule: Paris was already a city with close to a million inhabitants, and no running water. Versailles was not just a palace for the King and his family: a few thousand people lived there; it was a miniature city, with personell, visitors and sellers walking around, -even livestock. Amsterdam, famous for it’s inner city canals, had an unpleasant odour, since everyone dropped their garbage in these waterways, so when teperatures rose during the summer, the more well-to-do left for their country estates.
        The idea of people “relieving themselves everywhere” is nonsense, but I have an idea where it comes from: I’ve seen a caricature of a women in an enourmous 18th century gown, with next to it a cut-away picture of that dress, where you can see the woman urinating where she stands, -but no one sees it because it is covered by her dress. This caricature has in time become the icon of hygene in the 18th century, but no one knows where this idea originated from. Just like the painting of Jeroen Bosch of the beggar, that shows a house in the background; in it, you see how someone empties a chamber pot outside the window of the top floor. While in fact, upper floors in medieval houses were not used for sleeping but for storage room. People lived, worked, ate and slept on the ground floor. The only houses with beds on the upper floors were…brothels. And throwing out your excrement, let alone never sweeping and cleaning in front of your house, was punishable with a fine. But, we all see the picture without the background information, sooooo conclusion: “people just threw their excrements out of the window during the middle ages, eeew!!”

        And about the intro form the thesis you quoted (again: a second hand source):
        “No roll-on anti-perspirant,” – that’s why they changed underwear during the day and used perfume, – o and bathed,
        “no dandruff shampoo,” – So? Just like taking a shower twice a day just another modern idiotic invention. Soap does the trick, dandruff is a modern sign of an irritated scalp due to the extensive use of soap every day.
        “no pads/tampons”- not in the modern sense, no. But women dealt with it and found other means.
        “no toothpaste nor toothbrush” – No sugar either, and the used other means to clean their teeth.
        “….. how did people function without what are considered (in the USA anyway) life necessities?”
        They did. Even without strange modern inventions and ideas about “cleanliness”. It is only a thing of the last 20, 30 years to shower every day, even when you haven’t done anything. The amount of water, heating and soap used is staggering, let alone the effects it has on the environment.
        Some day, I hope, people will look back and think we are all complete idiots for doing this, -you know, kinda like what people are doing now about the 18th century.
        When will someone make a movie/series and treat the characters in it as normal people instead of smelly aliens?

      5. Avatarinklequeen

        Terry, I am part of a historical interpretation group, like one or two of your posters on here. My group specialise in the English elizabethan era, and as this covers a time over 100 years prior to that in Outlander, there are differences but also similarities in the clothing.

        Like some of the other people posting on here, I know my way around period dressing and lacing corsets in such a way that they are easy to slip on and off over the head, thus taking little time to dress.
        I am aware though, that dressing actors for filming is a completely different kettle of fish, and understand that there is a difference between ‘clothing’ and ‘costume’.

        I’m also aware of the conflicting information that exists from so called experts. Also how facts can be twisted and manipulated like chinese whispers. I once heard a room steward in a 16thC house explaining to the public how women would give birth on straw in the corner of the bedchamber, when there was a huge bed in the room! The same person also explained how rushes were strewn on the floors in all the rooms, I have no idea how she thought doors could open and close in that case…and has she ever tried to walk across a room strewn thickly with rushes whilst wearing a full length gown? Sadly historical re-enactors can sometimes be the worst historians, creating ‘re-enacting fashion and customs’ by merely learning from each other rather than returning to primary sources.

        I have one little bit of info on the use of tampons in the 16thC which you may already know, so forgive me you do. These were made by tightly rolling strips of linen and inserting them just like tampons. These would then be washed and dried then re-rolled for use again. I’m sure this was still done in the 18thC.

        I’m loving your designs for Outlander. There are a few anachronistic touches, but I’m loving the way they blend in and give the whole show textures and flavours and Terriness!

        I found the tone of some of the comments to you on here a bit rude, and like the way you reply to them! I suppose it’s inevitable that there will be some negativity; I’m not sure I could be so polite as you are back to them though!

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  18. Avatarjauncourt

    From a reenactor, getting into daily wear is hardly more intensive and time consuming than dressing in non-casual wear today, I used to dress in less than ten minutes, pulling up the spiral lace on the back of my stays by myself if need be, when I did accurate, skin-out (no modern clothes or underclothes) reenactment. The cold in the mornings before you get the fire going is great motivation.

    My working clothes (chemise, stays, knitted stockings with no elastic, tied garters, two petticotes, a shortgown – tied and pinned shut, pinned and tied apron, cap on braided &pinned up hair, shoes, sometimes a kerchief and hat) were not really any more complicated than getting dressed for church is today. My best clothes (same underlayers, plus a silk gown that is sewn or pinned shut up the center front and adjusts under the pleated back, embroidered sleeve ruffles to pin on, a fine apron that was pinned on, fancier hair) might take some assistance, but really, overall, isn’t much more complicated than getting ready for a modern formal.

    These are just clothes, not witchcraft.

      1. Avatarjauncourt

        Whether she is a reenactor or not isn’t relevant, since she is being dressed by others – who would know, theoretically, how the clothing worked, from daily use. 20 minutes to put on stays is … excessive.

  19. Avatarally (@dont_growup)

    Terry, I am not a Costume Designer, just a Production Supervisor who happens to be an Outlander nerd like you. For 20 years I’ve waited to see this come to life. I love reading the process & research you share. The sincere attention to detail makes everything come to life in a full, satisfying way. A bit emotional too if that makes sense?

    Please let Ron & whoever know that this was one of my favorite scenes of “Castle Leoch”. It’s not like most of from our century have a clue of all the garments & accessories involved. Sure I read about them in Diana’s books but what a treat to actually SEE them. Considering the production filming time, it may have cost dearly but it was key and IMO, well worth everything put into it. It literally brought this century and world to LIFE.

    Thank you from the depths of my toes for the generosity of your time & patience. Love your humor, love your work & creative vision even more.

    Can’t wait for further installments. Truly.

  20. AvatarJuniper Jeni

    Thank you for this post, the dressing scene was one of my favorites! Please try to ignore the annoying, know it all, trolls who would rather make nasty comments on your blog, rather than have their own blog, or mind their manners. Much respect and l love

  21. AvatarDeana Baker

    What a treat it has been to see your vision of Outlander come out on screen ( SUPER glad you introduced your husband to it). Thank you for the lovely attention to details, I always loved how Diana Gabaldon included day to day bits within the scenes of the characters daily lives, and you haven’t let that part of the story fall be the wayside.

  22. AvatarLorraine Davis

    What I loved the most are the knitted items! Specifically, the “arm-Warmers” Mrs. Fitz wore – I have been trying to find a pattern for them ever since, bribing anyone I know who knits with the offer of a quilted wallhanging in return!! I love the detail you have put into every stitch the characters wear!

    1. Avatarthetinfoilhatsociety

      Those are SO. NOT. PERIOD. In fact, it’s jarring to see Claire and the other characters wearing items that wouldn’t even come into existence as popular ladies’ wear for another 100 years. And the bulky knits are even worse. Size 0000 equivalent needles were used to knit stockings and gloves, most people today consider size 3’s small. If you spin or weave, or if you’ve ever processed your own fleece you would understand why wasting yarn like those bulky items do just was not done.

  23. AvatarJennifer Hoffman

    I loved the dressing scene too, as a sewist it was one of my favorites. While I am glad that I don’t have to wear all of those clothes — I work from home so it’s usually yoga pants and tshirts for me (and undergarments) — historical costumes have always been an interest of mine. I love the fabrics and hand sewn details and the intricacy of dress — what people wore, the colors, and fabrics, were their personal calling cards. You could tell a lot about someone’s social status by the amount of embroidery, the cut of their clothes, and the fabric. Today we have access to everything but in earlier times, the rich wore silk and the poor wore homespun (which would be considered a luxury fabric today). You have done a fabulous job with the costumes, they bring the characters to life. Thank you for your dedication and for this page, which is very interesting to read.

  24. Avatarlaney1120

    If you want first-hand historical references, I grew up on a farm in Tennessee in the 1950’s. Here are a few things that were still common practice at that time, having been handed down from generation to generation since before they immigrated to the US in the 1700’s.

    Full baths were taken only on Saturday nights, and until indoor plumbing became commonplace, the whole family used the same tub of water – if you wanted clean water, you hauled it and heated it yourself. During the rest of the week, you made do with a wash in a basin of cold water, or took a dip in the creek (also cold). Everybody had BO, but you didn’t notice it so much because, well – everybody had BO!

    I was not allowed to bathe or wash my hair during my period, because I would get pneumonia and die if I did! (1960’s) Young women were not allowed to use tampons until they were married.

    If you were working in the fields, you did not make the long trek to the outhouse (yes, we still had them!) while everyone else continued to work – you went behind the nearest bush.

    We had a chamber pot under the bed for night use only, and if you used it, you emptied it yourself the next morning. The stench from the outhouse could be smelled for quite some distance, even on a cool day.

    Babies’ faces were wiped with their urine-soaked diaper, as it was thought to improve the baby’s complexion.

    Most men and women of my grandparents’ generation dipped snuff, which gives you horrible breath and rots your teeth.

    The bacon you had for breakfast was cut from a slab that hung from the rafters on the back porch. You had to shoo the flies off of it before slicing it.

    And before you say “Oh, well, ignorant backwoods hillbillies,” my family was quite well-to-do and owned several large farms.

    1. Avatarterrydresbach

      What can one possibly say? I think there is a tremendous amount of evidence out there about such things, but to suggest otherwise seems to be offensive.
      Not sure what that is all about , but I think it some sore of agenda I don’t know anything about.

      1. Avatarlaney1120

        I usually don’t respond, as nothing you say will change their opinions. Oftentimes I can’t even look at Diana’s page, and if she responds she’s accused of being rude. I hope that you and your team don’t let this discourage you – most of us love what you’re doing!

  25. Avatardebbiedake

    I’m not sure you’ll even see this question because you posted this Getting Dressed section so long ago but as I was re-watching episode 3 tonight while listening to the podcast with you and Ron I remembered that I had wanted to ask you about the blue top (I think it might be considered a jacket or just a top) worn by Claire that had the sleeves stitched on with big visible stitches just like the photo shown above. What is that about? Were those stitches permanent on the garment or were they restitched when needed? I’m curious about the why of them.

    I am not a re-enactor or even one who does much research (I think my questions make it pretty clear that I’m on the ignorant side when it comes to costume designs of the 18th century or any other century for that matter) but I am absolutely fascinated with it, first from the books and now even more from the work you and your team have done on the show. Plus this blog and the podcasts (I’m in love with those too) make it even more fascinating.

    Thanks for offering this forum to us fans and I’m sorry that you have to deal with people who believe they are experts on your job. I guess we all want a little attention (well, maybe some more than others).

    1. Avatarterrydresbach

      I try to check all the posts for relevant comments, not just the latest, since they are often by character. Considering moving to a by episode format.
      The sleeves you are referencing, are laced on, giving the wearer the option of wearing the bodice with or without. Pretty grey.
      Thanks for your question, Debbie.

  26. Pingback: Behind the Costumes: OUTLANDER « Nerdist

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  28. AvatardeBora

    I am re-reading and re-watching, finding new details. Thanks for asking the question about the sleeves. I thought it might have to do with weather or indoor/outdoor as the Gellis character often does not have sleeves indoors. I am also fascinated by the muted colors and knits. Since Outlander is not an historical treatise, I am very happy with the interpretation – and find the clothing enhances the viewing. That being said, I work in the medical world and whenever I watch a “medical” show, I am constantly yelling to the TV, “that’s not possible!” “that’s just wrong” , etc. I personally love the work you and Ron have brought to the screen and your storey as well. It’s special. Thank you.

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