‘Outlander’: Why Roger’s Kilt Was a First for the Show

Outlander is well-known for its extensive and detailed costume work. This is only fitting, as period dramas like it are often revered by fans for the quality of their era-appropriate ensembles.

Terry Dresbach served as the costume designer for the first four seasons of Outlander and is also married to the show’s creator, Ronald D. Moore. Over the years, she’s shared numerous details about the thought and care that was put into the costumes, as well as how they created some much differently than others.

Richard Rankin joined ‘Outlander’ in season 2

Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton at a premiere event for 'Outlander.'
Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton at a premiere event for ‘Outlander.’ | Michael Tran/Getty Images

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Before departing the series after season 4, Dresbach detailed numerous costumes secrets, and tricks from the series in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. One of these revelations had to do with a kilt worn by actor Richard Rankin in season 4.

Rankin joined the cast of Outlander in the second season, first appearing in the season finale, “Dragonfly in Amber,” alongside Sophie Skelton. Skelton plays Brianna Randall, the daughter of Claire and Jamie Fraser (Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan), while Rankin plays Roger Wakefield, Brianna’s eventual love interest. Both actors have become series regulars since their debuts.

In season 4, there is a sequence where Brianna and Roger attend a gathering in North Carolina in 1970. During the sequence, Roger is dressed in a sweater and a kilt. According to Dresbach, that kilt marked a first for the costume design on Outlander.

“When they go to the gathering in North Carolina, Roger gets up onstage and he’s wearing a kilt and singing to her, and you can watch her fall more in love with him,” Dresbach told Harper’s Bazaar. “We had a whole thing on set about this, because I really wanted to have him in the sweater and the kilt instead of a shirt and a jacket, because I wanted him to be a modern man. So we combined it. And for the first time ever, we bought a kilt. [Laughs] We didn’t have to make it out of 5,000 yards of material [like for Season 1].”

So, there you have it: in a show famous for its many kilts, Roger’s in season 4 was the first one not to be crafted purely by hand. That says a lot about the costume department’s commitment to craft on Outlander for so many years. Also, while Dresbach didn’t say as much, it makes a certain amount of sense that a man in the 1970s would have a store-bought kilt rather than one made from scratch.

Sophie Skelton’s ‘Outlander’ wardrobe was close to home

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Elsewhere in the interview, Dresbach detailed how Skelton’s 1970s wardrobe came from her own life, as she strives to dress Brianna in the same clothes she wore earlier in life.

“For Brianna, I’ve always dressed her in my clothes,” Dresbach said. “It said to myself, ‘You don’t need to do anything other than just remember everything you wore.’ I had this jacket; I remember when I got it, I was salivating, I could feel it in my stomach: ‘I have to have that jacket.’ I went insane with her wardrobe.”

This plan for Brianna’s look seems like it brought a lot of joy to Dresbach’s work on Outlander, as is evident in the interview. This prompted her to push Moore for there to be more opportunities within the story for her to design 1970s outfits.

“She has about 50 of the most unbelievable 1970s looks, and we see two outfits on the show,” she said. “I was screaming at Ron [Moore], ‘No, you have to write more scenes in the ’70s! I have all these great clothes for her!'”