Terry Dresbach On Creating The Look of ‘Outlander’

I’ve loved every costume Terry, Nina and crew have made thus far for the show, especially S4. They deserve all the awards in the world. ~ Vida


For over four years, costume designer Terry Dresbach has created the costumes for the cast of Outlander. Time-travel, continents and centuries meant Dresbach was always planning ahead. It also meant she had to be a huge fan of the books to know where her next world was going to be.

Outlander without a doubt is one of the most visually beautiful shows to watch, from the cast, to the Highlands of Scotland, to Paris. Outlander covers it all. Dresbach’s costumes are made from scratch, everyone, every stitch.

I caught up with her to reflect on her work this season and how she mastered the challenge of creating the costumes for Outlander.

For the visuals, where does the vision begin? Does it begin with the book or the script?

Going all the way back, I brought the book to my husband. I had read them a dozen times over the years. I tried talking him into making a movie, and he said that it was not a movie, but a TV show.

Then, his partner was also a book fan and we convinced him to do it. When it came time to do it, there were no scripts. We had to do which is what we always do on a show that’s as vast as this, we learned we couldn’t rent anything so we’d have to do every stitch. What that meant was that we’d have to create a world with pretty much nothing to go on but my knowledge of the story and history.

There was a lot of running around over the seven weeks in which we had to set everything up. We were pretty much working on the next season while we were shooting the one before. It was long before the writers were sitting down and figuring out what the story was.

I’d be like, “OK, in two, we go to Paris.” There was a lot of creating worlds and knowing that your main characters would always be with you. You’d create closets for them. When the scripts came in, you’d create specifics of that script. It was an interesting way to do it.

I think it’s almost impossible for someone to do it that way if they hadn’t read all the books many times.

 

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