Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer




There has been a bit of discussion and mention in reviews about how many outfits Claire has. Where did they come from?

I gave this matter a lot of thought. Mrs. Fitz gives Claire an outfit. Does she give her just one? Ten? How many? Mrs. Fitz runs the castle and one would imagine has access to a lot of goods. People get sick and die, they move out, they are killed, there are so many scenarios you can come up with that would give Mrs. Fitz access to clothing and pretty much anything else she wants.

So we now have where she gets them, but still haven’t answered how many. Well, there is another element at play here. How do you tell one day from the other onscreen. Well, one of the ways that people know that the days change, is because people are wearing different clothes.

But how do you do this in a way that feels reasonable, that supports the story? A way that is believable.

How many outfits??

I settled on 4 skirts and five bodices, that Claire wears regularly. GrrrrrAnimals. Americans may remember those. Kids clothing coded with animal pictures. The Lion shirt goes with the lion overalls. The Giraffe jacket goes with the Giraffe trousers.

Well, that is what we did with Claire’s costumes. We had to make a calculated decision based on what was a reasonable amount for Mrs. Fitz to pull together, and also a reasonable amount of items for us to make in two weeks (Cait was cast two weeks before shooting). With the Grrrranimal approach we could make those skirts and bodices mix and match, all able to be worn together in many combinations. When we added accessories (stomachers, cowls, capes and mitts, we could create the illusion of even more variety. So we put Mrs. Fitz to work, making what we fondly call, Mrs. Fitz’s Bitz.

I think we have been pretty successful, maybe even too successful, since some are saying she has too many clothes.

We did have to add a couple of special occasion dresses later on in the season, but that is pretty much it.

Watch, you’ll see … GrrrrrAnimals.

39 thoughts on “GrrrrrrrrAnimals

  1. Moz

    I like the variety…and if there’s anyplace she’ll have it it would be at Castle Leoch, because we know there are times she has to live in one outfit for a long time.

    1. terrydresbach

      Many discussion about how much could be carried on horseback or in a wagon. We don’t only have to serve the story but requirements of shooting. Sometimes we have to add things the story doesn’t require, but the camera does.

      1. Ellen Britt Klassen

        Love your blogging about the wardrobe on this show. I love to watch the actors recreate the books but I love seeing the clothing. As a decorative painter, I would love to read a blog by the set designers. Maybe you could put a bug in their ear.

  2. wbfjf

    Terry, it’s always a pleasure to read your insights and back stories. Granimals were a staple of my brother’s wardrobe and I love how you applied it to Claire’s! We readers know how rrrough she is on her clothes in later sections of the book.

      1. Peggy Cope

        I didn’t spot any reference to knitting patterns on Heughans Heughligans. And all I found on Ravelry was not quite up to snuff, sadly. They had a version of Claire’s capelet from the Gathering, but it wasn’t at all right compared with what Claire wore in the show. *sigh* But I will keep looking.

  3. darlenecates64

    I love you sharing your sketches and the process. It makes perfect sense to be able to mix and match. The fabrics and details are so gorgeous. I so much appreciate you sharing so openly about the creative process. Both you and Ron are so generous, to share your experiences. It makes the production even better to know the details. Thank you!

  4. Jo Ann Platt

    It’s so nice to have “inside info” on the costuming. I love it. The dress Claire wore at the end of episode 102 when she thought she was leaving Leoch was absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to see what you design for her gown…and you know which one I mean. 😉

  5. rrbuchholz1

    Your attention to historical detail, the courage to do what works for the screen and the team work with your husband …wonderful. My daughter has been making costumes since she was 13 and it is a passion . So I am always tuned into this aspect of movies. I have been forwarding your posts to her. Slainte!!

  6. Angela Sasso

    Oh, those early days of asking if could fans knit, sew and stitch for the show! I look at all those “bits” that the actors and extras are wearing and know now that you sourced local talent to make them. We were “so ready” to help, excited to be a part, and you were so sad when you realised it couldn’t be.

    Love it all. Knitted cowls, and handwarmers have been trendy for the last few years, I have a soft grey rabbit fur collar I wear in the winter – these things we see on screen almost seem modern. In Edinburgh over the last weekend, I bought a soft cotton knee length long sleeve tunic with an oversize cowl – from Ragamuffin on the Royal Mile. Will wear it belted to “channel” my inner 18th century woman later on this autumn. Fashion just keeps reinventing itself.

    Love the look and feel of the show and revelling in all of the detail. It all has an Old Masters quality to it.

    Get Gary to write a blog too! 🙂

      1. Peggy Cope

        Absolutely! I’ve been looking all over the internet for really good patterns duplicating all of the gorgeous knitwear on the show, but so far I haven’t found anything that’s really convincing. Although the show has definitely got me working on a bunch of new capelets as Christmas gifts!

  7. bytemebill

    I am just stunned by the work that went into creating all these costumes…including WEAVING the tartan! I know that we don’t want costumes to overtake the story, but I love looking at clothes and listening to music when it comes to movies and TV and I just can’t stop looking at the costumes. I can’t wait to see what you do with their time in France 🙂


  8. Michelle Kelly

    Terry, I have been enjoying the podcasts and all the tidbits you have been adding in regards to the costumes. Stellar job by the way!
    I have also seen the increase in my Facebook newsfeed with the recent knitting frenzy. Everyone needs Claire’s cowl now! I live in Canada and now I need to go and find me a knitter to make me one. (or I suppose a quick check on Esty LOL) Way to start a new trend this winter season. Yeah for warm fashion!

    Congratulations on the success of your show and costumes. Been loving it so far.

  9. Suzanne Couch Bray

    So happy to read this post. I am entranced with the costuming for the show. I too have been questioning how on earth Claire would have so many clothes as a newcomer to the castle. I did notice that many of her wardrobe changes were done with the accessories. Like everyone else, apparently, I am entranced by her neckwear. I am seriously thinking of taking up knitting just to try making a cowl like Claire’s. Terry, I think you have done an amazing job of introducing us to the fashion of the era and making us want to wear it! (Well, some of it.) Love the pockets in Claire’s dress. I chuckle whenever I see her twentieth century, hands in the pocket, stroll. Am wondering if that is an adaptation for the show or if there actually were pockets in dresses back then.

    Outlander really should have a marketing department to sell some of the wearable fashion items. A piece made in Scotland with an Outlander/Claire themed design. I would buy it!!

  10. kimbers61

    I am another knitter who would love to know where I can find patterns that duplicate the cowl in this post and the capelet Claire is wearing on the boar hunt. I watch each episode many times- for the story, of course, and then another time to concentrate on costumes, another for music, you name it! (Any excuse to watch overandoverandover…..)
    Thank you for sharing your creative gifts with us!

  11. Lori Hanson Johnson

    Just as the others have requested, I, too, would absolutely do flips in the air if I could purchase or obtain the patterns for the knit ware accessories that began to be shown in Episode 2! It began with Mrs. Fitz’ fingerless mitts and Claire’s cowl. Then, as the next episodes unfolded, my senses were bathed with titillating accessories as capelets, shawls, Claire’s mitts, shrugs, and capes. Please, if there is any way possible you could lead us to these patterns, we would all “love ye lass!”

  12. Adri Shelton

    Hi Terry, do you still need knitters? I’d love to make something for the show. Actually I spin and dye yarn as well. Need any hand-spinners for background. I know how to spin with a drop spindle, very common tool used when walking to and from gathering work, and how to spin with a single treadle saxony type wheel, which had been introduced to Scotland by the 1700s. I’m sure you have plenty of local spinners/dyers/knitters/crocheters to employ, but I can hope!
    I’m in California and when I was younger my parents made me a costume for the Celtic festivals. They sewed a gathered floor length skirt with a belted plaid (inauthentic tartan but nice heavy woven material) and a bodice. I loved wearing this costume. So sad to have outgrown it; I still think the belted plaid was a genius accent for daily wear- shawl, pocket, and potential blanket or pillow pinned over the shoulder. It was truly a labor of love on their part.
    I may leave this comment in a couple of posts because I’d really love to catch your attention.

  13. jenzijer

    Hi! I love the show and especially love Claire’s knits. I don’t remember seeing the cowl pictured above on the show, but would LOVE to make one. Is it possible to get a pattern for it, either for knitting or crochet? Thanks so much for any help you can offer!

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