Attention Gladiators: Your relentless fangirling over Olivia Pope’s fashion has paid off! Scandal’s lead, played by the gracious and gorgeous Kerry Washington, and costume designer Lyn Paolo have taken their killer style to The Limited. The two are crafting a line with the retailer's creative lead, Elliot Staples, that channels Pope's take-charge attitude.
“Dressing as a Gladiator means not being afraid to have it all—to be glamorous, smart, powerful, and sexy,” says Washington. "There’s this history in fashion that in order to be a powerful woman means you have to dress like a man, and we wanted to go away from that. We wanted to figure out how to express both power and femininity through fashion for this character, because she's a woman who is not afraid to be the most powerful character in the room."
The result is a collection that includes all of Pope's staples: a pastel coat, an up-for-anything blouse, and a cape trench in her signature white, which “reflects the armor Olivia puts up,” says Paolo. The reason white is her go-to color is both a reflection of the character and the call of TV, Paolo explains. "It was really important that Olivia Pope stand out in a room full of men dressed in dark suits; that she be the central focus, the main power point of that room."
Speaking of standing out, there are also some gorgeously soft colors in the line, including baby pink, sage green, greige and ivory. "This is a woman who when she walks into a room, she needs to feel like she brings a sense of openness and justice and calm and peace," explains Washington. "I don’t want to walk into a room and intimidate clients who come to me on their most terrified day, I want to wear colors that make them feel comfortable and relaxed and at ease."
And because “she wears the pants in her life,” says Washington, the duo drummed up three Pope-approved trouser styles—a slim-cigarette, a wider regular cut and a super-wide leg. "I figured when you’re a woman who wears pants all the time, you want to have some options," she says. "We’re trying to update this idea of the sexy powerful woman, and settling on pants as her standard allowed us to really play with more femininity in the jacket shapes."
Get ready to give your closet a Scandal makeover—the mix-and-match pieces start at $49. Just in time too: Season 4 premieres September 25. So, your closet? You bet it’s handled.
Monday, September 22, Kerry Washington will be instyle.com/kerryday.Guest Editor! Check back throughout the day for exclusive content straight from the actress herself. Go to
1. THE CAPE OF ARMOR
"A cape reflects the armor Olivia puts up," Paolo says. And it's practical, too. “There’s something about a cape that really works in our world, because Olivia’s on the move all the time,” Washington adds.
2. THE PERFECT PASTEL WRAP
“You don’t have to compromise because it’s cold outside,” Washington says of adding a statement coat to your winter wardrobe. “You should still feel like you’re looking fabulous no matter the temperature.”$274; thelimited.com
3. THE UP-FOR-ANYTHING BLOUSE
“We wanted something that was organic,” Paolo says of the neutral satin top. “It transitions beautifully,” Washington adds about the garment’s versatility from day to night. $70; thelimited.com
4. THE POWER SHEATH
Olivia Pope only wears dresses in flashbacks on Scandal, but Washington and Paolo created a sheath that represents Pope’s modern-day style. “It takes an idea that you’ve seen in a pant and jacket and puts that concept and color palette into a dress,” she says.$128; thelimited.com
5. THE DON'T-MESS-AROUND PENCIL SKIRT
"This skirt is something that she would have worn when on the campaign trail with the President," Paolo says. "It's in a fabric and a color context that works in the Olivia world," Washington adds.$80; thelimited.com
6. THE TAILORED POWER PANTS
"Olivia wears the pants in her life," Washington says. "These are made for professional settings, where you need to be respected and taken seriously."
7. THE EVERYDAY JACKET
While designing the collection, "We felt like as we tried to update this idea of the sexy powerful woman, settling on pants as her standard allowed us to really play with more femininity in the jacket shapes," Washington says.$168; thelimited.com
8. THE GLADIATOR GOWN
"You obviously become the focal point of the room when you walk in wearing this," says the Limited's senior VP of design, Elliot Staples. "All of the details on the back make it sexy," he adds of the gown, which is a sneak peek at the holiday collection.$168; thelimited.com (available in November)