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Outlander’s Emmy Nominated Costume Designer, Terry Dresbach, Talks About Costume Organization

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Outlander: Terry Discusses Keeping Track of All Those Pieces!

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By: Erin Conrad July 17, 2016

On Twitter this morning, Terry Dresbach showed fans a bit of what it takes to wrangle the tens of thousands of costume pieces Outlander has used in the past two seasons. All of the information and photos in this post are from Twitter. With a system that has been used by large costume rental houses, museums, and other facilities that house extensive collections, she put an RFID scan system in place to identify and track the pieces and their details, who has used them, and where they’re stored.

She said that as they start Season 3, about 30,000 pieces have had a bar code attached and been entered into the system, taking about 6 months. Going forward, all pieces will be entered into the system as they’re made (for Season 3, so far, though, only about 10 costumes have been created). The system was set up retroactively, however, because when the show started, the costume department only had a small space and a staff of about 8. Her staff now numbers about 70 people.

Terry says that she believes Outlander is the only show using a bar code system – she says there may be others, but she doesn’t know of any. But the huge number of individual pieces, many of which will likely be reused, made an organization system a necessity. The costume department now takes up about 20,000 square feet, including offices, workroom, storage, ageing and dyeing, fitting, fabric storage, drying (costumes get wet from filming outdoors) and more. Terry says the only comparison she can make is “to running the military. Dressing, feeding, transporting…” She said “it takes a year, and a village. This is not the local theater group.”

Costumes for extras are fit weeks before those people work, so that if shooting is done out of the Cumbernauld studios, everything is already organized before travel. Terry estimates that they have used hundreds of thousands of buttons, and have about 40,000 pieces (shoes, cuffs, jackets, etc), and outfit at least 5,000 extras per season. They make up to 6 copies of lead costumes!

The slideshow below gives you all of the basics, and some fantastic photos inside the costume storage area:

Would you like to have the chance to meet Terry – and Grant O’Rourke – in person?
Join us at Thru The Stones in December!

Follow me on Twitter: @OutlanderTIBS, @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace
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