Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Pleasant and Polite Interaction



I don’t care if you disagree with me, or you think I am a hack, or if you think you could do my job so much better than I do. But this is my house, and when you come in, if you put your feet up on the furniture or are rude to anyone in the house, you will be asked to leave. In other words you will be deleted.

Go scream to your friends about what a horrible hack I am, but if you are here, say it politely.

Thanks so much.

63 thoughts on “Pleasant and Polite Interaction

  1. AvatarMolly Spradley

    Terry, I’m so sorry someone was rude on your own blog. You have been so generous to share your talents, working processes and fascinating information about your career. I am in awe of the huge body of work you’ve created and grateful to be able to read your blog posts. Please don’t let unpleasant people keep you away from blogging.

    (PS- I loved your comments on the Episode 102 narration, please join Ron again for another one!)

    1. Avatarterrydresbach

      No one will keep me from blogging. And people are more then willing to present different views to my own, but I will expected to be spoken to with respect, and will expect other guests to be spoken to with respect as well. Some will accuse me of not being open to criticism, but you don’t become a working professional in this business if you have a thin skin.
      We have to argue and fight all day long at work with people who are not in costume related positions, who make decisions about what and how costumes are worn, I am not going to do it here.

      1. jschurrjschurr

        Terry, I love your rules – had very similar ones for my children and their friends when they were young. I appreciate your “delete” stand, as I see way too many Internet arguments they do not even begin with polite discourse but start from a “I’m right – you’re wrong” stance. There are ways to discuss and disagree without accusations/rudeness and people who start off rudely do not deserve your time or effort.
        On another note, I not only love the costuming, but really enjoyed the podcast you did with Ron. while I enjoyed his on Ep.1, having you there added an extra dimension and I hope you get to do more (added bonus: it would mean you are together!)

  2. AvatarTerri Hitchcock Hicks

    You go, girl! I can’t believe that some people can be so nasty and rude. it’s sad. But for what it’s worth, I think you are fabulous for sharing your work and thoughts with us. I am a clothing historian and absolutely LOVE how much I am learning from you! Thank you!!!

  3. Avatarravinmaven13

    I think everything you’ve done is brilliant. It’s all beautiful, obviously well-researched, and meticulously planned. I’m so thankful you’re taking the time to share these tidbits with us. I’m fascinated and learning so much! Don’t even worry about the nay-sayers. They don’t count anyway. Keep up the excellent work! And THANK YOU!

  4. AvatarJean (@whiskyeyedgirl)

    Just wow! That is beyond arrogant of the person. Delete away, please.

    I’ll say it again….. thank you for being so gracious and including us on your journey Terry. It is very much appreciated. You don’t have to respond to us and you do. I am floored that someone would take that for granted.
    Thank you and all of the cast and crew for letting us be a part of the excitement.

  5. AvatarSusan (@swillis102)

    It never fails to amaze me the rudeness of some people. I am no expert but I had two parents who loved history and gave me a love for it as well. I have spent many vacations in Williamsburg VA and New England. I have traveled throughout Europe and from everything I have seen and read you are doing a remarkable job. Very impressed. However, that being said. This blog is your home and guests should treat it that way. I absolutely loved your response.

  6. AvatarKaren Combs

    Bravo, Terry!

    (So tired of rude, mean girl comments in social media. Seems Face Book, Twitter and blogging makes many leave their manners at the door.)

    Thank you for sharing your wor, and your thoughts here. It is a pleasure to see your inspiration, hear comments about your designs and enjoy your sketches.

  7. Jerelyn HodgesJerelyn Hodges

    Like my Mamma said; “No excuse for bad manners.”

    I would like to take the opportunity to thank you, for giving me a glimpse into your world. I too loved your podcast with Ron it was such a treat, to be a fly on the wall. I hope we’ll hear more for you.

  8. AvatarGenevieve

    I love all the tidbits you share with us here, giving us a glimpse in the world of Outlander behind the scenes. I also love the doggie photos on Twitter.

    It’s so sad that some people get a thrill out of being rude and hateful.What a waste of energy.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing. πŸ™‚

  9. AvatarNicole (@nsrhoads)

    It’s sad that the “Poutlanders”, as I have heard them called are bleeding onto your blog as well. Like all the other posters before me, I have really been enjoying your posts, particularly the early sketches and notes about your prep.
    Thank you for your insight. πŸ™‚

  10. AvatarKendra Van Cleave

    FYI! As someone who has been discussing your recent post on Getting Dressed with some of the other commenters in other venues, I wanted to say that I’m sorry you felt attacked. I’m a huge Outlander fan — been reading the books for almost 20 years, and so far I LOVE what you and Ron are doing with them. I disagree with your findings on menstruation and hygiene, but I wanted you to know that nonetheless, I am loving the show and your work. I love that you made the act of getting dressed and the difference in the clothes into a part of the storyline, and I really like the look of the 18th century costumes so far. (I am a researcher of 18th century costume, although primarily English and French). I am interested in the bumroll shape that you used, and am planning to look up more sources to see if I can find where you got that shape from. ANYWAYS. The point is just, many of us are loving what you do, while also debating some of the statements from that post. But that doesn’t detract from your very hard, excellent work. I know that all TV shows (and movies) are a process of compromise between what the studio wants and what all the various filmmakers want. So if possible, try not to take the comments as “you suck,” just, “I happen to know a lot about this and unfortunately, this isn’t what the research shows.”

    1. Avatarterrydresbach

      THAT is a polite and respectful post. I really appreciate that. As I said, I do not require agreement, but there can be a way of discussing things where that can be a pleasant and respectful discourse.
      As I have said there is, in most of historical research, a myriad of opinions. I don’t just make things up without looking into them in some depth. My job requires too much research and since the choices I make will be viewed and reviewed by millions, I can’t just draw pretty pictures, I need to base my choices on real information.
      Every single aspect of costume research done on this has turned up at least three or four differing opinions from historians and experts of one kind or another.
      I don’t believe in absolutism of any kind, but especially regarding history. In the end one has to make choices. And one also has to accept that there will be lots of people who disagree with those choices and will be quite vocal about how wrong I am in the ones I have made.
      Since costumes have nothing to do with smell. And since I do not anticipate having to do a show about Claire’s menstrual cycle, it does not behoove me in any way to post every bit of research I have ever read on the subject, in order justify what I say. Nor am I going to argue whether it should take 20 minutes or 30 minutes to lace a corset.
      I could even say something incorrect on my blog, and not expect gauntlets to be thrown down in response.
      If one does say something that someone else considers to be incorrect, one can read it and move on. I did not deny the holocaust.
      I do not feel attacked, but I have done this before. I have had someone threaten to kill me about what I said about a TV show. It can get rough, people take things VERY personally. I am anticipating all sorts of real attacks, and am laying down the rues now.

      Anyway, I do appreciate your lovely post Kendra. Welcome to the blog, I hope you will be a regular. You are a re-enactor? 18th century? I absolutely acknowledge that there are those out there that have been studying the kinds of details for years that I can’t possibly have the time to delve in to. I appreciate anyone who wants to share their knowledge.

      Thanks again!

      1. AvatarKendra Van Cleave

        I’m both a maker of historical costumes, and an academic researcher of fashion history, which is why I’m quick to say that I know I don’t know the specifics of 18th century Scottish fashion! I know what was being worn in England and France at the time, but I’m sure the highlands were “behind the times” comparatively with their own peculiarities.

        I did have a moment (while watching the episode) of thinking, “And so how did Mrs. Fitz get clothes that so perfectly fit Claire?” And then thought, “Right, laced bodice over a stomacher — adjustable!”

        1. Avatarterrydresbach

          Getting accurate research on Scottish costume has been particularly challenging as so much information was destroyed. And as you know, paintings done by the aristocracy were often fictionalized. So we have used English costumes as our jumping off point and cobbled together things from there, based on the climate and environment, local fauna for dyes, and living in Scotland.Ron and I live in a 700 year old house out in the Scottish countryside, and that alone has informed a lot of my designs.But it has been FASCINATING. Researching the kilt alone has been one of the most wonderful costume discoveries I have ever experienced. Fantastic and amazing garment.
          But, one can only be so accurate. Yes, a laced bodice over stomacher, can help a lot to explain a perfect fit, but that doesn’t explain the sleeves or back. We are not re-enactors, we are film makers, and we answer to people who have no idea of what is accurate. We have had to argue about fichus, corsets, bum rolls, anything and everything of the period. Let’s not even talk about men’s stocks!!!!
          There is a reason why there are so many contemporized period pieces on the air. There is a tremendous pressure on costume designers to “modernize” clothing. I cannot tell you how many times I have argued that no self respecting woman would walk around with breasts exposed. But it is in the end, no matter what, a Hollywood production. Claire’s clothes are going to have to fit.
          Things are better now, positive fan support and reaction are powerful.
          There is no pressure about how our extras are dressed, we have had a LOT of fun there. Complete freedom.

          We are off to France. That is going to be very tricky. Such an incredibly precise period of fashion. We will do our best, but I can promise to piss some people off.

  11. Avataroutlanderbooklover

    I was sorry to hear someone had been rude. It’s very unfortunate.

    I am so grateful that you are sharing your process and expertise with us on your blog. I get your posts on my iPhone when I’m at work, and it’s the one email I wish sneak looking at when I’m in a meeting.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your creative process. It’s a joy.

  12. AvatarRobyn Acker

    Terry, Thank you for sharing this journey with us I don’t know anything about fashion, either current or yester-years πŸ™‚ but enjoy the “behind the scene” looks.
    And I love the grrranimals πŸ™‚

  13. AvatarLizzrd (@Lizzrd)

    I’m repeatedly amazed and awed by the puzzle of research you and all those involved are wrangling for accuracy and craft for this magnificent show. And I’m loving the pod casts as well. I’m a devoted DVD commentary viewer, so having access to commentary from the beginning is a real treat!

    The internet is a wonderful thing…without it I wouldn’t be watching this show. But I’m always disappointed to witness the bad behavior displayed by so many who feel obligated to boast and bash in comments threads. The arts of polite conversation and diplomatic disagreement are dead.

  14. AvatarBonnie Miles (@fibergal3)

    I think you are a visionary as demonstrated by the sketches done before casting which ended by eerily resembling the actors eventually being cast. I think you are good hearted as demonstrated by the support you have given to local crafts and services in Scotland. I think you are a Wise Woman for demanding that we be nice or leave. Carry on in health and beauty!

  15. AvatarBelvane

    1. I’m really sorry to hear people were rude to you.
    2. Rude, mannerless people -should- be deleted. If only there was a way to do that to what their actions leave in our minds.
    3. Your blogging is a privilege for so many people. For what’s it’s worth, every entry of yours fills my day with inspiration, motivation and joy. You bring happiness to my life every day. There’s a person out there in the world happier thanks to you, and I’ll remain happy for your work long after those rude people stop caring about whatever it is they wrote.
    4. I hope they don’t make you feel bad.
    5. On an off-note – in your replies through this thread, you sound a whole lot like book-Claire. That’s intended as a compliment.
    6. Sending hugs. What else can one do?

  16. AvatarAngela Gutierrez (@serriebleu)

    I’ve not commented here before but I enjoy reading about these behind the scenes details. I think the clothing/costumes are amazing. I admire the talent that goes into making them. It’s certainly not a gift I’ll ever have. πŸ™‚ I’m sorry that other people have felt the urge to come here and be jerks.

  17. AvatarJessica Lynne Ranallo

    I cannot believe the gall of some people to say such rude and uncalled for things on that persons personal site. If they don’t like it, the don’t have to go on your site or follow your posts. Personally, I am in awe of your talent and admire your dedication. I also love that a fellow Outlander fan is in charge of the costumes. I know you love this series just as much as I do and have put your best into it (as well as everyone else working on Outlander). I thank you for your hard work and for being so kind as to share all these goodies and behind-the-scenes tidbits. Please continue to share this wonderful stuff with us for those that think you are a hack are, by far, in the minority.


  18. Avataroutlanderbooklover

    Further to your response to Kendra Van Cleave’s comment, it’s amazing the research and love you have put into the wardrobe for Outlander. I’m just in awe.

    And I am very much looking forward to the costumes for Dragonfly in Amber. 18th century France – it will be amazing.

    When I went to Versailles, of course I went to see it for it’s history and splendor and then I spent 2 hours in the gardens sitting with and taking pictures of all the statues Claire saw.

  19. flutterby3357flutterby3357

    Miss Diana goes through this all the time and it amazes me always! Your costumes are phenomenal-it is woven like such a beautiful quilt-Diana’s words, Ron’s vision, your costumes and Scotland’s incredible scenery!!!

  20. AvatarJo Ann Platt

    Oh dear. I’ve read all the comments at this post and I’m glad to see you’re not going to let a rude, disrespectful reader make you stop doing what you do so wonderfully here. We love your blog, your commentaries, Ron’s commentaries and the generosity in general of both of you, Bear McCreay and the cast of “Outlander.” Everyone has been incredibly generous in sharing so much with the fans. Please know that it is greatly appreciated.

    More, please….

  21. Avatarmelissahasobservations

    I am so sorry to hear this. If I live to be 100, I will never understand why a person would verbally attack and attempt to hurt someone who is not only brilliant at their job but who has put so much love and care into it. Their lives must be completely empty and lashing out at strangers is their only entertainment. I have personally learned SO much about costumes from reading your blog and have been thrilled to see what was only in my imagination for 20 years appear on the screen in a far superior way than I could have dreamed. Please don’t let them get you down. (On a personal note and as a small-business owner, this happens to me occasionally where random people say terrible things about me and my company on-line and it is extremely upsetting. It would be far more difficult at your level of visibility.) Bless you and good for you for standing up for yourself.

  22. AvatarSusanne D (@dennasus)

    I’m so sorry to read, that some people didn’t know how to behave. I remember you mentioned the death threats and all that horrible crap somewhere else before. Some people are just unbelievable. So yay, for putting down some rules. Sad that you need to do it in the first place.
    I very much appreciate you sharing tidbits of your working process and giving us a glimpse behind the scenes of a huge TV production. It’s fascinating to me, probably even more so as during my time at uni I worked as extra on a couple of TV shows and/movies regulary. Mostly contemporary pieces, so we usually could come in wearing our everyday clothes. But I was on one WWII movie, where I played one of many many Polish forced labourers in the background. So many people and so many costumes and so many costume girls running around through all of us making sure we still looked as untidy as we were supposed to πŸ™‚ Quite a lot of fun, actually. So I ge the appeal of playing around with the extras costume in the background.

    You should register the “Ron Moore Red” and get a patent for it. It has been done before LOL


    Very much looking forward to more blog posts and podcasts and all your amazing work on Outlander!

  23. AvatarMerry Miller Moon

    So sad that some people try to spoil the fun for others! I love this blog! This personal glimpse into your creative mind Terry! Don’t let the ‘haters’ get to you! I love your work! Thank you for providing us this sneak peek into your world and the world of ‘Outlander’! πŸ™‚

  24. bethwessonbethwesson

    Wow. Thanks for putting yourself out there even “knowing” folks can be crazy (Death threats? Really?!) I think some day soon folks are going to look back on the interaction between the people creating this show and the fans and be amazed. It’s been a singular experience. Please know that for every hater out there there are 100s who appreciate you and your willingness to share. Once again thanks

  25. AvatarVulture

    Terry, I just wanted to add my thanks to that of the others. It has been an absolute joy to have you, Ron, Bear and the others discuss the creative process and what goes into making this wonderful programme. My heartfelt thanks and appreciation go out to you.

  26. AvatarBrenda Cunningham (@PunkiBrenda)

    This is a simple Thank You for your dedication to this project all your research to the making of each individual costume….you have gone beyond anything I (speaking only for me) could have imagined…All of this while opening the door for us the other fans and teaching allowing us to see learn and know process all awhile helping us understand the history of what may have been and what was. Thank you Terry

  27. AvatarDeborah Harvey

    The internet has made apparent how many folks have no filter between what they think and what they keystroke. A blog is like a dinner party, where spirited discussion should not cross the line into argument, conflict, or outright bad manners. Some people can become tiresome and pedantic and some folks are outright wrong but will not admit it. You, Terry, have every right to “dislodge” a quarrelsome guest, via your delete/block option, from your own beautifully appointed dinner table.

    Now, on to the excitement over Claire’s red dress in Season 2. I’ve been looking forward to it for years! Go wild, please (or as wild as logistics allow)! I can’t wait!

    1. AvatarJane Sitton Logan

      Amen, Deborah Harvey! I am so happy Outlander has been renewed. The Parisian clothes are going to knock our socks off. Please show another dressing scene when Claire is in France to show a proper lady’s maid helping her with her “toiletries.” People have no idea how complicated women’s clothes were. And I think Jamie’s French outfit in Voyager will be the most talked about costume of the entire series.

  28. Avatarislandchickny

    Amen & Thank you!! The lack of manners is disturbing. Everyone is entitled to express themselves of course, but I wonder have they considered how invested you are in this project?? You work 18+hours a day (plus winds)spend months at a time doing research, designing, fits, are a PROFESSIONAL with 20+yrs of experience, are dedicated to authenticity &detail, have a team of amazing artisans, not to mention the fact that you are FAR from home, your husband, &children! And after all that you are MORE than generous with the balance of your time, answering endless tweets, and sharing invaluable behind the scene insights! THANK YOU for doing all of this!! It’s a shame to think that at times people fail to realize, this kind of open access is a luxury, not an entitlement.

  29. AvatarLori Thomley

    So many others have stated better than I could about how wonderful you are as an artist, your immense generosity to the fans, and your inspirational & thoughtful posts. As someone who sometimes allows negative comments to speak more loudly than positive ones, I’d also like to share with you some of Susan Ashton’ s words:

    To deal with the scoffers, well it’s part of the bargain. They heckle from back rows, and they bark at the moon. Their flowers are fading in Time’s bitter garden, but yours and bloom. ——–A Rose Is A Rose
    Terry, you are a rose. Thank you.

  30. AvatarTheresa Hattle

    I think you are lovely and I’m so enjoying everything you are sharing with us. Please continue as you wish. Thank you from Chicago.

    Sent from my iPhone Theresa Hattle


  31. AvatarRachel Blasdell (@MommaBlaze)

    As a creative person (I do graphic design professionally and for personal fulfillment, I sew, weave, and draw), it always amazes me how badly people behave to those of us who are artists. I recently redid my living and dining rooms in my home. I spent quite a bit of time working on these rooms and planning exactly how I wanted them to look when I was done. For me, this was not just about redoing dated rooms and making them fit how we now live our lives better. It was therapy to help me deal w/ the recent loss of a sibling who I had nursed through cancer. So, I spent my summer ripping down wallpaper and painting walls, ceilings, and furniture. Now, as it happens I have another sister who is also very talented. She has two successful stores and also does interior design professionally. But I was extremely hurt when someone I consider to be a good friend came over to see the almost finished rooms, of which I was obviously very proud, and proceeded to ask me if I had considered asking my sister for her help with the rooms.

    I took into account the fact that this friend has never trusted her own taste in her home. She considers having a professional designer telling her what to do a mark of status, unlike myself who will design and build furniture to match my vision of what I want. So, yes, she’s projecting her own insecurities. But she was also damn rude.

    I wish I could say that this is the first time I’ve seen this sort of rude behavior. But it’s not. I’ve seen it over and over in my life as an artist from those who feel that they have a right to blurt out whatever hideous response they have to your work and call their petty vindictiveness ‘constructive criticism.’

    My response has been to grow a thick skin and to kill the offender with undeserved kindness. And to distance myself from the offender. Which is her loss, not mine.

    By the way, the sister in question? She saw pics of the finished rooms and loved them. FWIW, this sister is one of the people on this earth that I do trust to tell me the truth about my work.

  32. Roxie DimpelRoxie Dimpel

    Having been a fan of the book series for 20+ years I am in seventh heaven with the show. I recently started following your blog and just love it. I will regularly “pause” a show to study a detail that catches my interest….thank goodness I have a wonderful husband who enjoys the details with me. I am so interested in what you have written about designing these costumes. THANK YOU for sharing some of your creative process with us! I wish I could follow you around and participate in your adventure! The costumes are beautiful and contribute to the enjoyment of seeing my favorite series brought to life ! Again THANK YOU for sharing your creative process!

  33. Avatarbytemebill

    Ugh…those trolls are in every fandom and posting out there to be sure! I have always tried to be polite and respectful in any online posting that I have made. Except when responding to a troll πŸ™‚ Sometimes they just get my goat and I have to respond, but I truly try to be the better person…


  34. Avatarkateleslie1

    Excellent post Terry! I am one who places a high premium on civility as well. My house, my rules. My son (who is in his 30s & a husband & dad) was reminded of something recently. A group of friends were reminiscing about their teen years & struggles with parents — including yelling at their parents. DS was…uncharacteristically…quiet during this. A friend asked him…why so quiet? DS answered that he was listening…but couldn’t relate exactly. He’s never raised his voice to me or his dad in his life. His friend was surprised by that. DS explained that it never occurred to him to do that…he couldn’t imagine treating us that way or that we’d find it acceptable. He’s right. Over the years we’ve had spirited disagreements & varying points of view…expressed with a measure of love, mutual respect & empathy. I think real empathy is an ingredient often in short supply in some peoples’ makeup.

      1. Avatarboisebooks

        Amen. You are the hardworking queen in your house and get to say off with their heads (or at least delete)
        Your reply was perfect. I can’t believe that some have the nerve to say what they have…..you are SO far from a hack….more the mistress of your very complex domain. Not sure how you do all the research, the designing, sourcing, cutting,stitching, fitting, duplicating…arghhhhh.

  35. Avatarncsabzb

    Ms. Dressback, your work is stunning. To harken back to one of your own comments–It’s The Storytelling!!!! Your clothes tell the story so eloquently and thoughtfully Thanks.

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