Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Jamie Pt.1…



Soooooo, Jamie.

Our challenge with Jamie’s costumes was actually not unlike our challenges with Claire. We needed him to move into the inner circle of the French Court, and yet retain his essential character. He is a Scotsman and a warrior, Unfortunately he is not a time traveler, so we had no way to reach back to another period of time and find a clever way to meet that challenge.. But what I did decide to do, was something similar to what I’d done with Claire. I had to reach into his character, find the defining characteristics and make sure that we remained true to them.

  1. Commanding
  2. Heroic
  3. Masculine
  4. Simple and Clean Lines
  5. Lethal
  6. Solid

I also could feel Sam reaching out psychically, “Terry, please do not make me wear lime green, drenched in lace”

Sam’s relief was palpable when he arrived for his first fittings, and saw the manifestation of the list above. It was a pretty great moment. What I had decided to do was to go with as classic a look as I could manage. A 6’3″ ginger slamming around in some bright color and high heeled shoes, would be distracting to say the least. Another one of those moments where the mind of a reader is very different from the eye of a viewer.

But, every man looks great in a black suit, with a white shirt.

Blk Suit

I read early on that most men in the 18th century (wealthy men), had three staple suits. Black, great and brown (just like now), but that very few examples survive, as men wore them out.

This is one of the early examples I was able to find. LOVE it.


Not only does Sam look great in a black suit, but considering all that Jamie had been through it seemed very appropriate. He is not in literal mourning, but he has been absolutely shattered. Wrong time in the story for azure blue.



So that is where we went. I think he just looks insanely elegant. His costumes are made of the highest quality of silk I could find, the embroidery and decorative details are absolutely exquisite. I feel like he looks wealthy enough to be accepted, yet not part of the French Court, like Claire, and even Murtagh in his new clothes. I used black and shades of grey, with the exception of a couple of pieces.

CeWWiZDUUAIGTKL.jpg-largeWe will get to those boots in a separate post, and I will cover this costume and some of his other pieces.

I really love where we ended up. I think we stayed true to who Jamie is. Sam was very happy and most important, he was comfortable and felt right. He could still inhabit Jamie, and didn’t have to try and access him through layers of embellishment.

Here are some BTS shots…


We made this fantastic sort of relief pattern with the fabric (silk/wool blend). The technique creates light and dark, which makes for a more interesting texture on camera. The small buttons are some of my absolute favourites. They are a burnished metal surrounded by small rhinestones. We embroidered cloth buttons to compliment.

A very simple suit becomes simple, yet not.

IMG_0710 (5)

IMG_0707 (1)

IMG_0709 (4)

You can see our first pass at Jamie’s bandage in this pic. Costume still covered in tailoring threads.





42 thoughts on “Jamie Pt.1…

  1. Avatarwomanofthemists

    The details….the button holes, the buttons, the embroidery ! The rich but toned down colors! Ohh la la. Love hearing about your thought processes in your adventures with all this. Can see how hard you worked to make it so wonderful for us! Many Thanks Terry.

  2. AvatarMeiLing

    You’ve done an amazing job of costuming Jamie at the french court. Obviously, you well understand how transformative costume is. Sam could never have pulled off Jamie in lavender silk! It just wouldn’t have been Jamie!

  3. Avatarangelasassoinlondon

    Perfect for Sam as Jamie. He looks dignified and like a man with a purpose. Interesting that he is in either black or grey, I could see him in a somber blue too. Thanks for the posting.

  4. KnitzyBlondeKnitzyBlonde

    Terry, I love how much care and thought you put into each piece. Not to mention all the actual sewing/making of these costumes. I just finished watching episode 4, and I think you really nailed what you set out to do with Jamie. He looks commanding, and incredibly elegant. I loved the long cream embroidered vest he had on in this episode. And you’re so right about the black suit – it just works so well. Everyone was so spectacular at the dinner party. I just held my breath watching each amazing costume after another. I can’t begin to tell you how much you, your team, and all your hard work is appreciated in the telling of our favorite story. I so love that you are a fan like the rest of us. Hugs to you!


  5. Avatarsaratogarose

    What is it about a man is a suit? So hot! Love, love the black suit with the relief work and the fabulous buttons.

    I don’t know if “understated elegance” is the correct term – but, you definitely give Jamie the aura of wealth in a masculine way. Parisian men in heels – the antithesis of Jamie!

    Thank you for sharing.

  6. AvatarRuaria

    Oh God! My palpitating heart be still! My bosom heaves with girlish expectations! Oh wait…he’s just a character in a book….. The joy to see how you have captured the essence of the masculinity yet sensuousness of him is a beautiful thing, Terry.

  7. AvatarMagsLang

    There are layers of many textures…each fabric chosen for individual quality, use, fit for purpose and ultimately, the finshed look. I know im only skimming the process of fabric choice…i could go on and drool over it..but i wont embarress myself ..lol.
    I do believe tho, that the design and choices made, have shown Jamie being comfortable and retaining his own personality. Beautiful natural fibres that look stunningly rich and delicate but belie their strength and durability…never underestimate the mighty silkworm

  8. AvatarDonna

    Terry-Every episode I am simply amazed at you and your team, the thought process you went through to dress all the main characters and the detail work that went into all the costumes.

    I just finished watching episode 204 and Jamie’s costume is simple and masculine yet very elegant and handsome. The detail work on that waistcoat is just beautiful.

    In what man does not look handsome in a black suit and white shirt unless your Sam than you can say he looks HOT.

  9. Avatarclaireokc

    It’s so much fun to watch you match the needs of the camera, the actor, the character and do it so that all three live in one. I mean the garment is gorgeous, as usual, but to work at blending all three of these in one costume, is really exceptionally amazing. I’m sorry, but I had to laugh at the vision of Sam in lime green behind a plethora of lace!

  10. Avatarbwenbrant

    You and your has nailed the quintessential elegance of well dress man and its so evident in all of Jamie’s costumes. He just exudes maleness with an edge highlighting that he is dangerous and yet withdrawn as if a lethal shadow to the men around him he is the essence of the man. I also love how you equated his look in Paris with mourning, the detailing which is so subtle is beautiful and while it doesn’t draw your eye away from Sam/Jamie it highlights all his qualities both physically and spiritually in his strength of character, male beauty and elegance.
    I am so glad that you found this amazing balance of light and dark for Jamie. And while his wedding clothes will be my favourite costume for all time the black outfit about with the those boots and that exquisite waistcoat is a very close second.

  11. marthatrulockmarthatrulock

    Thanks again for the blog about Sam Heughan and his French episode costumes. His black suit is stunning.
    Having been able to see your costumes at the LA Saks and NYC Saks window displays has truly made a huge difference in relating to both costuming and storyline.
    We are so fortunate that you are so willing to share your conceptualizations and thoughts with us, your fans.
    Many kudos to you,
    Martha Trulock

  12. Avatar

    I love this post! Thank you! This is one of my favorite looks on him this season. The buttons too. #OutlanderButtons

  13. Avatarhoosierquilt

    Terry, thanks for sharing in such detail, how to came to develop some of the suits for Jamie! The attention to historic detail is amazing. Can you tell us a little bit more about the gorgeous embroidered tone on tone waistcoat worn under that gorgeous silk overcoat? Did your team digitize the design? Was it based on something you were able to find in either photos or preserved clothing from that era? And, I would love to see the costumes go back on tour, and add additional locations on tour. For those of your fans and Outlander fans in general who sew and embroider, your blog is such a treat, thank you for sharing the details! We’re glued to your blog.

  14. Avatarlaplane

    terry, it just struck me how much your work entails knowledge of chemistry and physics as well as expertise in history and style. did your schooling include these sciences or do you use consultants for that kind of information?

    1. AvatarTerry Dresbach Post author

      No, it just evolves out of necessity, and then we approach it step by step. Lots of testing things out. I guess it is somewhat scientific. In S2, we had to really learn the science of light and how it works with silk. Under the lights, the colour your naked eye sees, is not the same as what the camera sees. Lots of testing. We had a goal (see mood boards), but ended up modifying it because of the light interaction. Not quite as brilliant as we had hoped.
      The job has always meant being a psychologist and sociologist,but this year it went to an entirely new direction.
      Kind of fascinating.

  15. AvatarWatchrTina

    One of my favorite parts of your presentation at the Television Academy panel earlier this year was when you described your and Jon Gary Steele’s panic at the discovery that a blue sofa was reading purple (and not a good purple) under the TV lights. It must be the same with the clothes because the black suit you have described above looks navy blue to me in that one still photo from the set. I’ve seen photos of Sam on red carpets wearing navy blue and it looks really good on him so had I assumed you had deliberately put him in navy blue. Now I’m eager to see the suit in context to see how it looks there. Thank you so much for these posts. I love getting a chance to see the details close up.

  16. AvatarAlennaM

    He looks so totally hot…or cool, (depending on your generation I guess). Being 58 myself now I really shouldn’t notice such things and go back to my knitting 🙂 I do have a question about the male costuming however. With all his exercise and weight training, doesn’t Sam Heughan get difficult to fit into a costume at times? It seemed like in one episode his outfit was a bit tight in the neck area. Between his marathon running (thinner) and weight lifting (upper body bigger), you must have to make a lot of changes in the shirt and jacket sizes.

  17. Avatarsusanbk

    Jamie’s waistcoats are just exquisite! They are as lovely as Claire’s gorgeous frocks, in their own way. I love the pale silver-blue one from Episode 4 with it’s monochrome embroidery in that diamond design! And the heavily embroidered deep slate grey one in the pictures above is amazing. I LOVE this look on Jamie; definitely NOT frou-frou! I’d love to have some outfits like this, myself!

  18. auntiemameauntiemame

    You couldn’t mess up Sam if you put him in sackcloth and ashes. . .but his costumes are simply excellent. . .beautiful. I think I may like them more than Claire’s because he seems more comfortable in them. Her costumes are gorgeous, but the panniers do look far more bulky and uncomfortable than the ones in Season one. . .maybe because there is so much more fabric in each skirt. Caitriona, like Sam, can wear anything and look beautiful. Yes, the costuming is pretty perfect, as far as I can see.

  19. Avatarjeancard

    I love hearing your thought process for each costume. Considering the actor as well as the character when designing is very interesting. You are fabulous!

  20. Avataredie3

    Love your art details of fabric, embroidery, cut married with the character and broader sociology and your thought and experiment process. The results are so fab they makes me feel happy. Thank you!!! I also got to see the Saks – Beverly Hills costumes. Wonderful!! I’m always astonished at how slim the actors are in real life.

  21. Avatarsecolerice

    Sam is a man who knows how to wear a suit and what you have done for him to become Jamie in his own way taking off of his build and his preferences in a suit is outstanding! The grey waistcoat seems like tooled leather. It is just gorgeous! It’s funny, I had the occasion to be on a men’s suit website yesterday (one of my company’s insureds) and as I looked at the suits I kept saying “not as nice as Sam’s suits”. I have always loved a man in a suit but now I know that not just any suit will do. I don’t know what makes it right but I know it when I see it. And your designs are spot on!

  22. Pingback: Jamie Pt.1…by Terry Dresbach  – The Bonnie Kilt

  23. Avatarhotscot

    Terry, it’s really generous of you to share your design process with us and very much appreciated. It totally enhances the entire viewing process & has made me watch shows & movies with an entirely different perspective!

  24. Avatarsheelaghk

    Ditto everything above. Simply beautiful fabric/design, rich and such detail!
    I do not recall the story behind the pinky ring. There is a design on it. Does anyone?

  25. AvatarBarbara Spellmsn

    Thank you so much for sharing so much about all your work on Outlander. I think you and your staff do an outstanding job. Since you told us how many buttons you had to make, I find myself counting them on the costumes. I watch the episodes so many times I can spare time to do that. Seriously, though, this suit of Sam’s is absolutely awesome for Jamie and Sam as well. It is perfection! Congratulations on getting it just right!

  26. Pingback: Outlander: Ep. 204 Review, La Dame Blanche Strikes Fear - and Love - in the Heart | Three If By Space

  27. Katiscotch22Katiscotch22

    I love that you didn’t put Jamie in really bright colours. I love that the waistcoat is the same colour as the suite. The waistcoat embroidery is perfect and give the suit all the embellishment a manly man could want!

  28. Avatarwoolfarmgal

    Oooh, the textured waistcoat with those exquisite buttons gave this black suit punch and drama for me. Just love all the details. Your posts just add insight and a fun experience to this series. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  29. AvatarBevKayShea11

    The waistcoats are amazing. My daughter asked me to ask if you embroider then assemble the garment or embroider after the garment is made. She’s had experience with the fabric puckering when embroidering. Thank you.

  30. AvatarM&M

    Thanks so much for taking the time and sharing all of the ins and outs with us. We the readers have always learned so much history with “the books”, I am just loving what we are learning about the art of costuming (Is that a word? *g*) from the series. I watched your presentation on the panel three times, it was just fascinating, just blows a person away. You’ve added another layer to your costumes with the background you give to us. Well done Professor Terry! 🙂

    1. Avatarlaplane

      m&m, just want to back your comments! i too especially enjoy viewing terry on panels. i’ve felt for a long time that she was not receiving enough attention on promotions for outlander, when her role as costumer is one of the primary reasons for it’s great popularity. i’m so glad that has changed.

      1. Katiscotch22Katiscotch22

        I totally agree – so lovely to see you on the panels Terry. We want everyone to see the beautiful lady who created these fabulous costumes.

  31. Avatar

    I find your comment of matching the elegance of Sam to this costume very intriguing. Seems spot on and I’m glad you both were pleased. The relief pattern really does add a cool texture to the costume and of course, the buttons are the BOMB!! Just as a joke, though, I would have done a mock up of lime green and lace! The look as his face would have been priceless!!

  32. Pingback: Review Staffel 2 Episode 4 – La Dame Blanche – Outlander Deutschland

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.