Over six years and four seasons, costume designer Terry Dresbach has turned Outlander, one of the hardest-to-define shows on television (a romance-epic that spans two centuries, multiple continents, and dozens of history book-altering events, for starters) into one of the most beautifully-costumed, as well.
Dresbach was a fan of the Diana Gabaldon-penned Outlander series years before her husband, executive producer Ronald D. Moore, optioned the rights to the TV show, and in 2012, she found herself tasked with helping translate the characters in her favorite books to the screen. Her costumes have taken time-traveling heroine Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) from World War II to the 18th-century Scottish Highlands and the French court of Louis XV, back to Scotland for the Jacobite Rising of 1745, to mid-20th century Boston, and finally, to pre-Revolutionary America for Season 4—Dresbach’s final with the show. She says she never planned go so far with the series, but ultimately, “I had to get them to America.”
Dresbach brings a fan’s eye to every button, stitch, and print, and her work has garnered a devoted fan base within the show’s already-feverish fandom. On her Twitter, @OutlanderCostum, Dresbach breaks down individual costumes into their essential elements and explains her rationale for each decision. Her timeline is a treasure chest of information for Outlander and costume history addicts alike, and her more than 41,000 followers hang onto her every word. “I was talking to a woman the other day who’s watched the show 200 times,” Dresbach says. “When you’re talking to them, they have questions that deserve to be answered. There has to be a justification. [Fans] expect more because they’re engaged in the process in a different way.”
Earlier this fall, the SCAD Museum of Art hosted an exhibition of Dresbach’s work on Season 4, and BAZAAR.com got a chance to sit down with her to discuss her final season. Click through for a meticulous breakdown of each character’s wardrobe, and a sneak peek at what’s still to come from the rest of the season (Warning: There will be spoilers).