Movie & TV Fashion

Fashion Cues: Learn Style Tricks From TV's Most Powerful Female Characters

Fashion Cues: Learn Style Tricks From TV's Most Powerful Female Characters

Behind every addictive TV show is a strong, inspirational female character. She's a leader, makes tough decisions and holds the secret to power dressing. And no, that's not code for a staid pantsuit.

"As much as gender roles are fluctuating in the nation's workforce (especially since women began outnumbering men for the first time five years ago), so too are the old rules about dressing for success," InStyle Fashion News Director Eric Wilson writes in his Look Smart column "Pantsuits Won't Play Here" (page 165) in the October issue. "It may sound trite, but on television, as in real life, appearances do matter...if there's a universal message to be found here, it's this: Leave the pinstripes, gray flannel, and shoulder pads to the boys."

With the return of fall TV shows comes the anticipation of what our favorite female power players will wear on the small screen, from Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies) in polished columns of color on The Good Wife (Sundays 9/8c on CBS) to Carrie Mathison's (played by Claire Danes) no-nonsense separates on Homeland (the season 4 two hour-long premiere is set for this Sunday at 9 ET on Showtime) to Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington)'s pale elegant pieces on Scandal ( Thursdays 9/8c on ABC).

RELATED: The Good Wife's Work Outfit Inspo: Don't Fear the Flair!

All of this is our (and Hollywood's) way of saying: A pantsuit isn't the only sartorial option anymore for ambitious, driven women, on and off screen (though it might still be a preferred uniform for certain CIA officers—ahem, Carrie).

From professional political fixers to tough criminal law professors, female characters are breaking all the traditional fashion boundaries in the workplace and teaching us that there is a way to be taken seriously without having to compromise style. They may be fictional on screen, but their fashion lessons are 100 percent real. Click through to snag their style!

PHOTOS: Power Dressing Lessons Learned From Female TV Characters

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