Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

These Boots Are Made For…



Some things are just not very complicated.

Viewers are very easily distracted. Focus can easily devolve into minute examination of one corner of a frame, one tiny detail, a zillion blown up screen caps, and endless discussions about that tiny corner of a frame. Plus, most viewers are not costume historians, and often period details, like incredibly low cut gowns, or wigs, or high heeled shoes on men, can seem so outlandish, that everyone forgets what the character says and focuses on whatever that costume piece is. Not good.

It is a fine line. I am attempting to be both historically accurate and true to the characters. So I can neither throw out history, nor make a documentary about historical dress. Fine line.

Sprinkle that with general above the line terror of certain historical fashions, it becomes a neat little sider web of lines. Things Hollywood don’t want to see, and for good reason: Cod pieces, Wigs, Historically correct hair and makeup of any kind, mens calves, and large hips. We have all of those, except the cod pieces. People get lost in those details and about a zillion more.

So part of your job as a designer, is to find ways not to distract.

You can make everything contemporary, because we all accepted corsets as outerwear in the 80s, or you can find ways to dance around the distractions, not wave them under people noses. All of those things go into the decision to use boots. Not to mention the horror that a lot of actors have of breeches, codpieces, wigs, and large hips. But we know that we are not going to make that choice…too late to go back on or entire aesthetic.

Or you have to find an example of where you need to go. Since my goal was to stay as accurate as possible, I needed to find boots that Jamie could wear in the French Court. Is it 100% accurate that he would wear them to a dinner party? Maybe not…maybe, if he didn’t give a shit about the rules. Hard to say absolutely what an individual does in the face of societal norms.

Anyway, the same things about character apply here that did in my post about Jamie’s suits. Not only do our faithful viewers not want to see him in a chartreuse suit, but they are not going to be happy to see him in high heeled shoes. I know this to be true. It is going to be a bridge too far.

We found the boots.  They were pretty hot. Another criteria in our world.

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So we made them for Jamie and for St. Germaine.




Jamie Boot




We made a pair in leather and a pair in silk. Don’t know why I don’t have a picture of the silk ones!! I’ll have to add it later.




41 thoughts on “These Boots Are Made For…

  1. Katiscotch22

    OMG I can’t tell you how much I LOVE Janie’s boots. They are perfect for him. You’re right I wouldn’t have liked to see him in high heels – simply not Jamie. I would wear them they are so gorgeous. 😀

  2. I do love the costumes but you have moved history around abit to make the french look cleaner and more sophisticated. They were slobs. The time was pompadour but yet we do not see any 3 foot high white wigs with outrageous adornments or bright pink cheeks on highly powdered faces with the black ” beauty” spots. I am a hairdresser and historical hair styles fascinate me. A little bit of the gaucheness of the time should be there. Swan nipples, yay. The extravagant dresses are correct. I do love that you didn’t put Jamie is the gaudy crap they wore and so therefore appreciate the thought gone into all the costumes. So well done. Get out of France and back to the fabulousness of the Scottish costuming.

    1. Terry Dresbach Post author

      Thank you! I only changed the costumes for Claire to a 40s feel, and followed English fashion for Jamie. Everything else is as true as I could be.
      The three foot wigs with outrageous adornments were Marie Antoinette’s generation.

  3. Love this post. Love these boots. I think you should have a line of shoes, add these boots too.

  4. Donna

    These boots are just gorgeous.

    But we gave another iconic costume coming up in season 3 and thus time it involved Jamie in 3″ red-heeled shoes.

  5. woolfarmgal

    Enjoy indeed… Jamie as a warrior, even at King Louie’s court, needs to be ready for a fight. High heels would never do. Your choice is spot on.

  6. MsLorax

    I’m not a boots person and don’t like wearing them. I find them constrictive and usually don’t find them sexy. Until now, that is…..you may have a convert.

  7. Rebecca Hoffman

    I love that you think about EVERYTHING while designing. I think you and your team may have the hardest jobs. You have to make costumes as historically accurate as possible and yet relatable and attractive for today. Thank you for NOT making Jamie silky and soft. It would’ve never worked. Those black boots? KILLER. I love them more than Claire’s red shoes. There I said it. I hope I don’t get beat up now.

    I know you’ve mentioned before you have no desire to do so, but should you create your own line of clothing you already have clientele at the ready. [Points at self]

  8. MedusaZ

    Fascinating how a Costume Designer , in being true to the story, has to avoid detracting the viewers eye. I never realized this, but it makes perfect sense.

    We the viewers would we stunned, for sure, if we saw a true and accurate representation of fashion and mannerisms. Some are pretty hard to believe when reading about them.

    Question: The black boots look rather substantial and perfect for outdoor endeavors. Would his Court boots be the ones made from silk?

  9. sunquest78

    Incredibly hot!! I’d love a pair of any any all!! As usual, you’ve hit all the buttons!! the clothing that is connected with certain key elements of DG’s, come forth, and exceed our visions from her words, ie the Red Dress. But, as you say, the characters’ dress, should meld with all other components.
    Lady, you are smooth ☺️ A lovely evening to you

  10. Portia1776

    I have a great photo of the silk boots…I love them, they were my favorite thing in the entire display. The photo was taken when the costumes were on display at Saks in NYC. I don’t know how to leave it on this form for you.

  11. grahamlass

    The boots are vividly conceived to keep Jamie a warrior to the ‘sole’ (did I? did I really??). No dandy footwear for him.
    Any chance of wee screen time to watch Jamie buckle on or, come to think of it, unbuckle those boots? Location and time of day TBD.
    Many thanks again Terry for sharing the costumes in detail and your design process.

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  13. tinygoldenpins

    Beautiful, no doubt there! When you say “we made them” can you tell us more about that? They are so well-done — do you have cobblers at hand?


      1. tinygoldenpins

        Making shoes is one thing I want to learn to do before I leave this earth! I’d be happy with a simple ballet slipper…..these are just….AMAZING! I love him, too.

  14. gsbhlass

    Ms. Dresbach – we are psychically linked….I actually woke up thinking about these boots (don’t judge, I couldn’t sleep, dastardly work project – so when I need distraction I think about things like Jamie’s boots, Sam’s hair, Claire’s corsets, Cait’s gracious carriage, etc…)….

    I know how carefully you approach costuming, full marks for your approach to dressing Claire this season – a gorgeous fish out of water.

    So – Jamie’s boots confused me…I couldn’t figure how you could rationalize them – and as usual, you give the answer…perfectly planned and justified.

    And well, THANK YOU FOR THE BOOTS….and thank you for always dressing Jamie/Sam in a way that works for the character and works for Sam, both his comfort and physique.

  15. edie3

    Terry, thank you for opening up the creative process for us. I love the adaptation of the footwear to Jamie’s character and the messages the boots give off to his antagonists like St. Germain. There’s authority and credibility in the military-esq shape and freedom of movement in the black leather. So even though we know Jamie is fighting history, odds against him, he is a serious contender not a victim and we’re rooting for him.

  16. M&M

    Nancy would be so proud! 🙂 Just amazing. Thanks for showing the history behind them too, they are one of those things that you see in a picture and think……no way they had those then. But……you know they did, because Terry did it. 🙂

  17. FOTH

    I know I am not alone when I say I would gladly pay big money for an oversized photo book of all the costumes (on the actor they were created for) and any sketches that went with them. This season is more decantently enjoyable than a “Death by Chocolate” feast. As a historian and costumer – they are just too good to just get a fleeting glance in the show. Please, Please, PLEASE publish your collection.

    1. tinygoldenpins

      Oh, that would be so glorious. Please, Madame, please do that! You are such a wonderful artist and those of us who sew, embroider, and love history and historical novels and look upon the past to see the present……AHHHHHH! YES!!!! I’d love that!

  18. AlennaM

    Those are great! Between the kilt pleating and wrapping, and buckling all those boot buckles, it must take him quite a while to get dressed.

  19. FOTH

    I’ve worked as a dresser to school & community theater productions for over 40 years – I would GLADLY fly over to Scotland to help Sam get dress for filming 🙂

  20. MCatherine

    Curious if the embellishment on the jacket that Jamie wore in Episode 5 is trapunto work or cord quilted? We have a discussion going on in our Facebook OUTLANDER PATTERN CENTRAL group and look forward to reading a post about the technique used on that jacket. Thank you.

  21. hotscot

    It’s so fascinating the way you back up your descriptions with actual artistic depictions of the time period. I’m learning so much from your blogs. Love the entire design process & you are truly a design savant!

  22. outlanderaddict

    The boots are fabulous as are all costumes on S2. Question: the jacket/coat pictured above that Jamie is wearing when he meets BJR with Claire in the gardens of Versailles, is the beautiful decorative work running down Jamie’s coat “trapunto” vs embroidery? It is such an elegant yet manly design for the character. You and your team have produced such incredible pieces in every way. Thank you

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  24. Holy cow…hot is right!!! Love them.

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