Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer




Not sure there is very much more to say about the red dress, that hasn’t been covered extensively.

Mood boards and various notes, below…

© Mark Shaw / mptvimages.com











Interesting re invention of a classic Dior from the late 40s. The New Look has been reinterpreted so many, many times.


I was so worried that because Cait is so very fair, that she would be overpowered by brilliant red. It is neither an easy color to use onscreen, but it can eat up a mere mortal. The color made Cait glow like some sort of natural candle flame.

Extraordinary. The dress will NEVER look as good on a mannequin as it does on this particular living, breathing, being.


A quote from Cait-

“It’s a beautiful dress and such a fan moment in the books. Jamie has to say, ‘You can see all the way down to your third rib,’ and it had to fulfill all these different things, so Terry did such an incredible job with it. But walking anywhere, I had to do this kind of sideways crab walk. It was like, ‘Wide load, coming through!’ I thought all that I was missing was the, ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ that these massive trucks had.”

One of Balfe’s favorite additions that the writers made is the fact that Claire helps design the dress herself.

“It was nice to be able to see Claire explore her femininity, because she’s usually such a practical and pragmatic person, and not at all interested in her appearance. Being able to see her dressing up for the first time ever, that was a nice element.”

( Fifteen yards of Duchesse Satin)



red bodice





IMG_4757 (2)

When trying to figure how to address the notes from the book, I came across this painting.


It gave me the idea that if Claire took a traditional bodice, such as this-

Red Sketch 1  took the embellishment off, and then she opened up the front seam, she would end up with this  –Red Bodice 2

I think it worked for the story and paid homage to the book and the fans of the book/


One last thing- I insisted that we make this. So my amazing team did. They are, once again, the best.


There you go







46 thoughts on “Red

  1. hockeyirene

    Thank you, Terry. Thank you so very much. Must admit that I never “saw” (noticed?!) the two crossing bands of red on the bodice. Stunning – the dress and the post. Thank you.

  2. Nettie

    When I saw those pleats up close I just gasped. I’ve sewn many a full skirt or puffy sleeves which are absolutely NO COMPARISON to all those pleats but it gives me some understanding of how tedious and finger breaking that is. Truly truly artwork made of fabric. May I ask how many yards/meters of fabric were used to make this ?

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  4. Sophie Slim

    Thank you Terry! Absolutely fabulous Terry! I’m not a book reader (Although after discovering Outlander 3 weeks ago I’m waiting for the first two books to come in the post any day!) I saw this dress in action in the episode without any preconceived ideas and I LOVED it! So claire, so paris, so dior! I love the cross over in the front – perhaps that looks like a nod to 1940’s claire? Anyway, it’s brilliant. Thank you again!!

  5. Katiscotch22

    Hahaha got to love auto correct! Thanks for showing us all the fabulous details of the red dress. It is so simple yet so intricate. Agree, Cait looks stunning in it. I loved the red Dior two piece (like the black and white one you did for Cait in Episode 2) It’s gorgeous!

  6. AlennaM

    Wow that’s gorgeous! Do you have several copies of the same dress or is it one-of-a-kind? Also, what happens if it gets smudged or dirtied somehow during the filming? They must have to be very careful putting makeup on, or does all that happen before Cait gets dressed?

  7. CathyWC

    I am an avid fan of the books and I think the red dress was just right. The many pleats seem to make it flow what she walks. It was so elegant, and different than anyone else’s dress, which is what Claire and Jamie wanted, right? For her to be noticed! You worked your magic perfectly! I also think the earrings were perfect!
    I have the same coloring as Cait and the darker reds, always look good, I think because I am so fair. However, you are right Cait looks great in everything and this dress made her glow.

  8. NGabe

    Terry, your designing skills and vision with fabric and embroidery is absolutely magical. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to our favorite book characters and bringing them to life on screen. We are so lucky to have you!

  9. Nanci712

    After seeing THE red dress in the episode and then in person in NYC, it has become my favorite Outlander costume. As you say, Cait DOES glow in it. And those red shoes!!! All a magnificent piece of work.

  10. womanofthemists

    I absolutely LOVED seeing the close up details. What a stunning creation Terry. I loved how you share and show how your ideas evolve from photos etc. You are the BEST and we love you so for what you create…..and even more for the woman you are!!! So much appreciation and LOVE to you Terry.

  11. Solitaire

    Fabulous – I’m guessing 12 of the 15 yards went into the skirt! Loved the sheer trim along the neckline. The x’s across the bodice were a beautiful touch. Curious to see how many ladies attempt to cosplay that at Comicon this year. Just a really stunning piece of work. BTW, FIDM Museum has a fan exhibit in one of the satellite galleries – I had to laugh, because they had one a good 18″ across and I was thinking, “hey – a fan big enough for Jamie to feel secure about Claire’s red dress!”

  12. angelasassoinlondon

    It is just so wonderful, thank you so much for keeping the book fans happy. The pleats are indeed a thing of wonder.
    Just a question, is it two pieces – a skirt and the top? or just one piece?
    And I think it’s perfect with Caitriona’s colouring. “Claire” is always described with chestnut hair and whisky coloured eyes in the book – and I actually think Caitriona with her dark hair, white fair Irish skin looks better than book Claire would.
    Would love to see this dress for real!

  13. MeiLing

    I never doubted for a moment that Caitriona wouldn’t be able to pull off the red. I don’t think she did either. Any woman who rocks the red lipstick in ALL her appearances wouldn’t be shying away from a beautifully designed red gown to wear to 18th century Versailles, complete with the FM shoes! Jamie was right! Oh the grief!

  14. marthatrulock

    Hello Terry,
    Just curious…how much did the Red Dress weigh? I think I remember it being said somewhere that the Wedding Dress weighed 60#?
    Gorgeous dress and shoes,
    Martha Trulock

  15. AnnaLivia

    Such gorgeous details; I especially love the back. Thank you for giving us closeups.
    When I think of red dresses in film, Eva Marie Saint’s dress in North by Northwest comes to mind…a black background with enormous red flowers, and a very full skirt. A very powerful image. I believe it would have been influenced by The New Look as well.

  16. Stunning!!!!

  17. secolerice

    I never noticed the crisscross on the front or the sleeves either. Thank you for the wonderful shots so that we can really admire this work of art! I love the shot top down on the pleats ! Not everyone can pull off that shade of red but Cait sure can and she did glow. Just absolutely splendid!

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  19. dlmerril

    I continue to be overwhelmed by the attention to detail of you and your team! Every episode I am amazed. Last season it was associated with the authenticity of the Highlands clothing, this year it is the brilliant colors and frills! I can’t imagine anyone else being able to pull this off! Thank you so much for your commitment to authenticity and detail!

  20. MedusaZ

    RE: The hand Fans, last post in “RED”. Are these two Scottish RED deer? Are they to reflect the fact that Claire and Jamie are a couple?

    I Just love hand fans. The art department certainly did a beautiful job. Reminds me of the style of Vernis Martin from the 18th Century. Beautiful works of art that a lady could carry and use to communicate her feelings….as well as hide deficiencies of oral hygiene.

    So much to take in this season. Thanks for breaking it down and explaining the process.

    1. Terry Dresbach Post author

      The Costume Department made that. There is a reference in the books to the Stag fan. This was as close as we could get.

  21. Sarah K

    Terry, do you get tired of your fans fawning over your work? If so, sorry this is more fawning! This dress is an amazing piece of art and craftswomanship. Thanks for continuing to hist the nail on the head for all of the Outlander costumes.

  22. Roxx

    This has been nagging at me for some time now, ever since I saw Claire debut that stunning ‘Lady in Red’ ensemble, but: are those modified Dannijo Carrie earrings? It should be strange that with THAT gown and THAT decollete the first thing that should strike me is the earrings, but I’ve been mulling it over for sometime and am almost 100% sure that I recognize them. Claire’s been wearing some truly beautiful earrings this season, and I’ve been wondering who’s responsible for choosing and sourcing the character’s jewelry, and how each piece is chosen.

      1. Roxx

        Yes, I had noticed that the post closures had been swapped out for french hooks; more appropriate to both the time and the place, this season. I can only hope that the silver-plated Dannijo Nahm earrings someday make an appearance on Claire’s ears; they’re showstoppers that would look equally stunning paired with an 18th century gown as with a 20th century one. And they sparkle like fireworks, in the right light (though perhaps that quality would make them tricky for filming).

        Extasia’s also a great jewelry brand. They deal mostly in intaglio and cameo pieces, but they also have some amazing fossil ivory and jet pieces, carved to resemble tiny antlers, or acorns, and even memento mori skulls. I own a pair of sea green flourite drop earrings made by the brand and am quite impressed with their sturdiness despite their delicate and intricate appearance.

        I adore your blog and love reading the stories behind the stunning and elaborate costumes from each episode, but ever since I saw those paste drop earrings Claire wore when visiting Maitre Raymond, I’ve been wondering about the stories behind the accessories as well.

  23. The organza edge on the bodice sends me…….and the pleats…OMG! It’s true to form for reds to change shade in different light, but I like the red-orange hue, especially when the lip color is matched to it. There has been significant color research done with cosmetic companies on the hues of red lipstick and which hues women prefer over men.

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  25. mhysarose

    Hi, Terry! I’m actually new to the blog. I only recently got into Outlander, and to be completely honest it was your exquisite costuming that prompted me to take the plunge. I’m enchanted by so many of Claire’s beautiful costumes, but the red dress has absolutely possessed me. Being a costumer myself, I am hell-bent on recreating it for myself, but I’m…shall we say a little bit crazy and a stickler for detail. I strive for as close to screen-accuracy as I can possibly achieve. The dress itself should pose little issue, although I shudder to think how long the pleating will take. My primary concern is the accessories, the fan specifically as the shoes and earrings seem fairly self-explanatory (although I’ll need to research several new techniques to execute them). For the fan, I had several questions about the construction: firstly, the dimensions, and secondly, the materials used. I assume the fan is hand-painted, but I was unsure if oil or acrylics were used? Or something else entirely? And is it made from paper, fabric, or vellum? Also, was a specific reference picture used to create the design, or is it an entirely original work? I would be thrilled for any insights or assistance you can provide to help me honor your original design as much as possible.

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