Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Tag Archives: knit

There Once was…



I was attempting to bring a bit of humor with this piece, into the discussion about the knit pieces we have used on the show. Sadly it has just incited more discord. I should have just ignored it all. My apologies to everyone who got sucked into the wormhole.
So, I am going to move things along.


Amazing video from 1941


There appears to be a glitch with this video. I am looking into it, come back and take a look later. Thanks – T.

Grrrrrrrranimals redux


Seems there is a lot of chatter out there about how many outfits Claire goes on the road in, and why does she have so many?????????

I always make sure I can justify things for the story. The writers wanted to be able to show the day changes, and our Highlanders NEVER change their clothes, so it was up to Claire. Plus they wanted a “respectable” dress she could wear in an upcoming sequence. So, I ask,

1.”where do we put the clothes? ummmmmmmmm.
2.”Is there a wagon?” YES there is.
3.”Is it big enough for Mrs. Fitz to send a few things in a trunk (2 skirts, 3 bodices and 1 dress, a cloak, and some wraps/fichus),as she wants Claire to be presentable?” Yes, it is.
4.”How big is the trunk? Big enough for 1 skirt, 2 bodices, a cloak and some wrap/ficus?” Yes, it is
5. “Would you please SHOW the trunk, so I don’t get slammed for giving Claire too many changes????”
Maybe, not sure if we are going to shoot the loading of the wagon.

Okay, then the number of costumes is justified as far as I am concerned. Costume Designers can always take liberties, and many do. Producers and directors rarely care about such things, and studios hate it when actresses don’t change their clothes constantly. But I HAVE to justify it story wise. I am the one always watching and saying, “So where did she/he get that ??????” So after much consideration, I figure that seems to be the right amount of clothing to meet all the needs of shooting a television show.
If I were shooting a documentary, she might have one skirt, and MAYBE a dress, one cloak or riding jacket. But we are not.

With the number of outfits I choose, I can :
1. Serve the story and all that needs to be told using the costumes as a story device.
2. Accomodate upcoming stunts and action.
3. Mark the amount of time that passes.
4. Keep the audience from complaining that they are bored by seeing her wear the same thing all the time. “Doesn’t she EVER change her clothes. they weren’t backwards barbarians after all”
5. Keep our actress from dying of hypothermia.
6. Save my overworked department from having to make 20 duplicates of one costume so that we can accommodate all of the above (we don’t even have enough of any one fabric to do that if we wanted)

Plus I can get away with a few pieces of clothing, but make it look like she has a lot more, by cleverly using accessories (UH OH !!!!!!!!!!!!)

It will always be carefully considered on Outlander. Our job is to make a believable world. We are not doing a fashion show. It should look and feel as real as possible, given the incredible number of restraints filming a dramatic televised series, presents. We have seen 5 episodes so far. At the end of the season, get back to me and let me know how you feel about the number of costumes Claire has.

Mrs. Fitz’s Knit Bits


She did knit some fabulous things in her spare time. A most industrious and very creative woman.

I know there is tremendous interest, but… Just need to say again, that I have absolutely nothing to do with the sale of any goods associated with Outlander. Nothing whatsoever. I don’t own any of the garments on the show, nor the rights to them, or to what, how or when things are sold.

I have put a link to a pattern for mitts sold by someone completely unrelated to Outlander, If you scroll down on the blog you will find it.

I have also included some images from our early research, some interesting “bits”.

Thanks so much!!!

Claire, a recap


And look, at the bottom, a fichu!!!!

18th Century Mitts


They’re not EXACTLY hand warmers, though you might be able to make a case that they are pretty damned close, but with a different name. We supposed that they might have needed a slightly warmer version in Scotland. It is August right now, and VERY chilly.


And for those of you looking for a pattern, these are lovely (bottom of page) :


Mrs. Fitz, in all her glory




What a fantastic actress to play such a fantastic character. Annette Badland.





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.