The Story Behind Olivia Pope’s Newly Colorful Scandal Style

Photo: Kevin Estrada/ABC
Overly dramatic, made-for-TV-style daddy issues and boyfriend troubles aside, Scandal's Olivia Pope is strong, feminine, and inarguably well-dressed. Really, who else could become so fashionably influential simply by wearing coats? The now-iconic political fixer, played impeccably by Kerry Washington, has spent the past five seasons of the hit ABC show talking up the importance of wearing a white hat — often while also donning a white coat, because sometimes, literal is best. But those days of playing a white knight clad in nothing but understated neutrals are, much like her obsession with one sitting President Fitzgerald Grant, over. According to the show’s costume designer, Lyn Paolo, it's about time. "[Olivia] has changed. She is approaching her life from a different point of view. She's a little bit more dangerous," Paolo told Vulture of the character's new look. "She's challenging the system a bit more, and now she's in it for her. She's not doing this for other people, she's doing it for Olivia." And that means she's dressing for herself, too. When Scandal returned from its midwinter break, gone were the cream capes and understated, if elegant, tan trousers. In their place? A magenta-and-orange colorblocked cape, a bright red trench, and even an on-screen callout from her father, who can't help but speak for all of us when he asked Olivia, "What's going on with you, what's with the clothes?" "We wanted it to be jarring to the audience that, suddenly, she's someone else. She's reinventing herself. Because she has to. She's heartbroken in some respects," Paolo explained to Vulture. "But in other respects, like when you end a relationship, she's putting her best foot forward. She's excited about her life. This was a huge storytelling point for us, and it's also a lot of fun for me." But Paolo isn't the only one enjoying Ms. Pope's new palette. Washington seems to be having fun with her character's new aesthetic as well — and she's happily let her Twitter followers in on the good times.
New, colorful clothes? It's handled.

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