Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

The Arisaid



I was so excited to get to do this.

It went against everything that you are supposed to do on a lead actress, any actress, any woman, really. A GIANT piece of tartan wrapped around a GIANT plaid skirt that is worn over a padded roll designed to make your hips look wider???????? And then you belt it all in the middle with a man’s belt?

I mean, look at Claire, even she looks wide. I could NEVER EVER get away with that on network television. I had my fingers and toes crossed that I would get away with it on cable!!!

BUT look at her. She looks amazing. Sexy and kind of wild, stunningly beautiful. Someone said, it the 18th century version of “the boyfriend shirt”! I thought that was great. I always loved it in the book when Jamie rescues her, and wraps her in his plaid, and I really wanted to keep that. I thought it was such a small, protective and loving act.

OMG a woman who is not squeezed into a size zero bandage dress so we can see every bone, and she is still sexy and insanely beautiful???? How is that possible.

Well it is. We did it, and the world kept spinning. Maybe Hollywood creaked a tiny bit on it’s axis.Was that the cracking sound I heard last Saturday?


33 thoughts on “The Arisaid

      1. Avatarathenia19

        There are many periods where the full skirt was the in thing as in the civil war , especially the famous Scarlet O ‘Harr’s green dress made from the curtain which was green velvet fabric.

  1. KnitzyBlondeKnitzyBlonde

    AMEN!!! Love that you kept that element of the story, Terry! And you’re right, Cait looks insanely sexy and beautiful all wrapped up in his plaid with her wind tossed hair and no make-up. Please continue to re-define beauty. It’s sorely needed!! And hugs to you and all your costume/clothing department people. You do such amazing work. ~ Sandie

  2. Avatarlulu1960

    I loved it. I remember tweeting about it because it was just a symbolic thing to do. I know it was out of necessity because Claire’s dress was torn but it just felt like Claire was wrapped in Jamie’s embrace and she was truly his.

  3. Avatargrahamlass

    Thanks for this insightful post. Claire’s attire is perfect for a Highland get away with two nights at the Thieve’s ‘Hotel’, then three days of riding hard and sleeping rough.

  4. Avatarksnasat

    Its just such a perfect look for Cait/Claire. She looks so beautiful in these rough natural materials (the wool and the leather) in contrast to her physical self which is small boned, delicate, fragile ( not in spirit) She is cocooned in his love and protection. I love when he tells her she is safe and “I am here.” Clothes/costumes are very symbolic of who we are, aren’t they?

  5. ShanaynayShanaynay

    Terry…Tried looking for a thread on this on the Discussion Boards, as I know you’d like us to use them. But in the meantime, I have to say that I love everything about this post. As I watched the episode, I noticed immediately this costume choice and applauded it for how natural and lovely it was.
    Christy (@booozilla on Twitter) took the words right out of my mouth (I think it was her) when she likened it to a lady walking about in her mans dress shirt.
    Love that.
    And yes…supremely refreshing to see something a wee bulky on a lovely lass depicted on a huge screen. we can all breathe out and not suck it in!

  6. lmarkumlmarkum

    I loved that you were able to wrap Claire this way. Congratualtions to you and your husband for breaking through the “norms” of television. I love the show and your costumes are breathtaking.

  7. Avatarsaramig

    Dear Terry–I couldn’t agree more. The image of Claire wrapped in Jamie’s kilt has been popping into my head ever since I saw the episode. It is way sexy. I imagine the arisaid smells like Jamie. Wearing it, Claire has the essence of the man she loves wrapped around her. She looks stronger in it, brave and confident after what has happened. She also seems transformed into a highland woman. I absolutely love it. She looks wonderful–it is just so RIGHT–well done! BRAVO! I so enjoy this journey you are including us in with your blog–thank you!

  8. AvatarLisaW

    It is so authentic!! I couldn’t imagine it being any different then how Claire (Cait) looked. Thank you for keeping true to the book, of course Jamie would wrap her in his plaid! 🙂

  9. Avatarcararule

    It looks fabulous. But honestly – and this is no slight to your extremely adept costume design…how much doesn’t look good on a gorgeous, 5’10” former model. She must be a designer’s dream to dress! I would look like an Oompa Loompa swathed in this much material. 🙂

  10. AvatarChristinePincince

    I love this as well and my thought at the time was..well if she goes through the stones like that at least she may be believed a tad easier and of course the beloved Outlander saga would end…so yippee on all counts and not the least of which was the genius behind the costume!

  11. Avatarlvprosewriter

    Yay! I work in a museum with a small collection of Victorian & Edwardian clothes. Even though I know much less about 18th century, I really love seeing all your work. The costumes are a huge part of why I love historical fiction. Who can forget the dressing scene in A room with a view? And what was one of the first things you did? Give us a dressing scene. And later undressing…

  12. CrisCris

    For me dressing the tartan meant she embraced her future, not just surving day by day but enjoyng her new life. Insane := sexy she looked amazing!!. It reminded me one of the scene in 1×7 ..in the end after she gets the pearls, while they .. ‘do it again’… Claire wraps the 2 of them with the tartan, meaning they were not 2 strangers any longer, but a couple, it was heR way to accept his name his family him as an husband, not You and me.. but ‘US’ . THE TARTAN MEANS YOU ARE MY WIFE we belong each other 😉 in the end ..of 1×7 when she goes to take somehing downstairs she wraps herself in the tartan again, Dougal tried…to flirt .. ‘ I am Jamies wife’ she looked proud of it but was also challenging, to those who did not believe her,whilst Jamie did in the first place . The tartan for me represent a status a kind of belonging sense. lol

  13. Katiscotch22Katiscotch22

    Kudos for keeping this part of the book Terry. Cait is amazing – she’d look fabulous in a potato sack tied up with string. You have made what is essentially, rag tag bit’s of plaid look amazing. Well done 😀

  14. juliesheil1juliesheil1

    I agree wholeheartedly with your choice. As well as preserving her modesty I always saw it as a metaphor for wrapping her with his love and protection. Claire looked wild and earthily sexy. Perfect.

  15. Avatardennasus

    It’s the perfect costume for that scene! I love the “boyfriend shirt” analogy, because it’s so fitting. And I’m baffled about my naivity as a viewer as I never really thought about how much network politics (or whatever I should call it) might dictate costume choices. And I’m soooooooooo happy you were able to fight (and win!) that battle! Thank you!

  16. AvatarDawnComp

    I thought how awesome she looks!!!! No perfect, not tiny….cumbersome even. It was so real and just so the Outlander that we love! Great job Terry!! You are simply fantastic!!

  17. Avatarwoolfarmgal

    Well as a shepherd, I think everyone looks dashing wrapped in wool. I agee with past comments that Claire is embracing her inner highland woman. It is romantic, a Wuthering Heights moment. Thanks for the insight into the thought process. And boohoo on Hollywood….go with your instincts…looks like they are spot on.

  18. Nanci712Nanci712

    When I first saw a photo of Claire wearing Jamie’s plaid around her with the belt, I knew immediately what scene it was from. It also induced a huge grin on my face. I love this scene so much in the book. Such a romantic notion that Jamie covers Claire’s torn dress with his plaid in a loving, protective manner. Cait is so beautiful in the arisaid wrapped around her and cinched with the belt. It worked beautifully. For me, it is one of my favorite Outlander costumes. Thank you Terry, and your amazing team.

  19. AvatarJJSmith

    This is my absolute favorite look on Claire thus far.
    Simple, but not, all at the same time. Beautiful on so many levels.
    Just like the Varsity jacket or the boyfriend shirt, it states she is his.
    Can you imagine the pride Jamie must feel in seeing his woman wrapped in his kilt?
    Makes me want to wrap myself in plaid and cinch it with a belt.

  20. LoriLori

    Brava Terry! So glad you “won”! My thoughts when I saw Claire – beautiful, perfect, sexy – the “boyfriend shirt” exactly! I did not see “bulky”, etc. I love the “wild” you speak of – hair, woolens, leather belt, scenery – just perfect!

    As I watch the show, I am continually amazed (and very thankful) – that you, Ron & your team are the ones bringing these books to visual life – I am still blown away that you are able to film in Scotland and have enough budget to do what you all do so well! Thank you!

  21. Avatarcmspringr

    Reading all the information you have put out for us fans has really opened my eyes to the costuming and the monumental tasks you face. Everything has been so lovely and I hope that you continue to “break the Hollywood mold” as to what a beautiful woman looks like. Can’t wait to see season 2 fashions! Thank you and know your hard work is appreciated.

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