How to dress like Olivia Pope

How to dress like Olivia Pope

It’s no scandal to say that Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) is one of the snappiest dressers TV has to offer right now. The political problem-solving guru wears her ferocious heart right there on her sleeve in every episode of ABC’s hit series, and she knows just how to handle putting together winning daily ensembles. Her style is so swank that it might seem unattainable, but it’s actually fairly easy to imitate. Any good gladiator can get Liv’s look by following these few simple rules. Here’s how to dress just like Scandal’s style icon without breaking a sweat (or the bank).

Default to a muted palette

One of Olivia Pope’s signature sartorial moves is to stick to the basics when it comes to fabric colorations. Her clothes are usually either white, beige, light gray, or black, depending on her mood, which means when she does throw a new hue into the mix, it really pops. The elegance and class of her office wear is owed, in part, to the fact to those subtle material tones are understated, sophisticated, and don’t take attention away from her exquisite face. Here, she’s wearing a conservative, textured Dolce and Gabbana button-up jacket that allows her expression to say it all.

Olivia’s also not afraid to be matchy-matchy with those shade schemes – cream on cream, even after Labor Day, is no crime in her book. The freshness her soft colors bring to the table is a lovely contrast to the strident words that usually come out of her mouth, so it gives her some extra oomph when she takes someone to task. So, when it comes to picking out those everyday staple items in real life, remember: less is more on the color front.

Splendid coats are essential

Another of Olivia’s closet criterions is an excellent coat selection, preferably involving large buttons. In fact, many of the most jaw-dropping fashion moments from the entire show have involved a jacket that was so fabulous it stole the scene from everyone involved – even her. Consider the chic Max Mara coat (pictured left) she wore to visit Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in the hospital in Season 2. It was full-on finesse for Liv, especially once she paired it with those dashing Dorothy Gaspar gloves, and the excitement of the garb grabbed many an eye while all the Olitz drama unfolded around it.

Lyn Paolo, costume designer for the series, remembered how this memorable fashion moment came to be, telling E! Online, “Kerry and I fell in love with this coat but I didn’t like where the sleeves hit on her arms and suggested gloves. But then we felt like it was so contrived because this was the hospital scene where she was going to see Fitz – and would she have really taken the time to put on these long gloves? And I just said, ‘You know, it’s a fashion moment and Olivia Pope can put herself together no matter what is going on in her life. I think we should go for it!'” For those thinking about this fashion moment with serious purse envy, it’s unfortunately a pricey member of the Prada collection called the White Bauletto I Vit.Daino Talco Tu – say that five times fast — but a more affordable alternative could easily work, too.

As with this one, most of Olivia’s finest pieces of outerwear have usually involved dominant collar construction, along with a little asymmetrical action. So, when trying to scoop up a suitable replica, keep the shape of the piece – and, of course, the above-mentioned tint trend – in mind. The bigger, the better, in this case. Just look to the lines on her white Burberry caped trench coat and light pink Salvatore Ferragamo coats (pictured middle and right, respectively) for shaping inspo before the winter wear window browsing begins.

When using colors, make it sing

As Liv’s personality has evolved throughout the show, she’s started to add to her caramel color game and bring in some new zing, like this orange and violet Fendi ensemble she wore in the midseason premiere of Season 5. Paolo told Entertainment Weekly that the surprising selection was meant to be just that: a surprise. “When we first see Olivia, the thing we really wanted to do was shock the audience […]. We literally wanted them to be like, ‘Oh my God, we do not know what’s going on, or who this person is anymore,'” she said.

The takeaway? Your daily wear might be a little monochromatic, but it means that when you do want to stand out, it can be as simple as picking the right bright piece to shine. For Olivia, she’s tended towards the yellow-orange-red side of the spectrum when opting for an impact outfit, but that might not always be the right fit for your individual look, so feel free to explore the rest of the rainbow to select the most dynamic fit for you. As Paolo advised via ET Online, “Know your body, find what looks good on you and stick with that. Always be true to yourself and you will have the OP swagger.”

Don’t be afraid to mix and match pieces

One of the great things about the Scandal siren being such a fashion hero is that the costumers have made a concentrated effort to recycle pieces throughout. As Paolo explained to People Magazine, “We wanted Olivia to have a closet space, so in every episode, we wear at least one item that Olivia has worn before. These are real people.”

In fact, even though Liv always looks incredibly put together on-screen, Paolo told E! Online that most of her suits are a hodge podge of individual pieces. “We never buy a complete suit. We usually are mixing and matching. We are trying to create our own look.” The reason that little tidbit might often go unnoticed is that so many of Liv’s pieces are neutral enough to easily match up with something new, like this Rebecca Bourke quartz necklace that founds it way into more than one of her looks in Season 3. This is yet another reason why the simple base palette is such a solid fashion foundation for her (and you) to go with.