Scandal’s Olivia Pope is known for her white coats, gloves, and handbags just as much as she’s known for her superior scheming. It turns out that Kerry Washington, the actress behind the popular character, played a major role in crafting Olivia Pope’s unique look.
Washington worked closely with Scandal costume designer Lyn Elizabeth Paolo an deliberately choose feminine silhouettes and colorways in order to make a statement.
She tells The Hollywood Reporter:
For the most part, up until that moment in time in Washington, D.C., to be a powerful woman meant dressing like a man. We were conscious of not having Olivia do that, of having her not be afraid to bring her whole self into the room. That meant bringing her identity as a woman and her femininity and believing if she brought her full agency into the room, that it didn’t disempower her. So we looked for clothes that had a waist, that didn’t take away from my female form. And there were women in Washington at the time — like Michelle Obama and Desiree Rogers — who were developing this identity, women who were saying, “I can be smart and fashion-forward, I can be brilliant and fabulous, and I’m not going to leave any part of myself outside the room for your comfort.”
A lot of people in Washington at the time were dressing in navy and black, again in order to fit into the male fashion aesthetic. We decided we’re going to traffic in pastels and neutrals, not only because Olivia Pope is not afraid to stand out and write her own rules as an entrepreneur, but also because as a woman of color, I could pull off some of those colors in a different way that we hadn’t seen on television, and we wanted to take advantage of that as well.
Washington also touched on how wardrobe played a major part in bringing certain characters to life, namely her role as Anita Hill in the HBO film Confirmation. Read the full interview at The Hollywood Reporter.