Scandal Recap - Lead
Credit: ABC

Last night's episode of Scandal took a very dark turn. We saw a side of Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope that we've never seen before! The reason for it? The return of former Veep Andrew Nichols, who awakens from his coma with one plan only: to wreak havoc on the President Grant (Tony Goldwyn), Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), Olivia, and the rest of those involved with the Trojan-like war before Nichols had his "stroke" (a manmade stroke courtesy of Huck). But before Olivia takes measures into her own hands (we won't get too detailed here, but the episode is titled "Thwack!" after all), she sticks with her tried-and-true gladiator wardrobe.

"This episode is full-on Olivia in work mode," costume designer Lyn Paolo tells InStyle. "She's dealing with old scandals and doing everything she can not to let them land in the press. The whole show is about her gladiating and dealing with really dark issues about her's and Mellie's past."

Scandal Recap - Embed 1
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As for the Givenchy jacket that she wears over her royal blue Jason Wu dress, it's more than just your average black blazer. "It's so feminine, yet really structured too," Paolo explains. "It's the dichotomy of her. The top of it looks like a standard blazer, but from the waist down, it has a very feminine peplum that moves when she moves."

Even Mellie is pairing structured jackets with her standard roster of dresses. "This is Mellie's senatorial look," Paolo says of her red Ralph Lauren jacket and dress combo. "Now that she's running for president, she's mainly in suit looks but with a touch of femininity when she's feeling vulnerable. Especially in this episode with everything going on, her costumes really go back and forth, but in this scene, it's purely her Senate look."

Scandal Recap - Embed 2
Credit: ABC

Earlier in the episode when Olivia is running around town on behalf of Mellie, she wears a very familiar style: a navy trench (this one by Burberry). "We went back to a very structured trench look for this scene," Paolo says. "They're dealing with a lot of stuff from the past that is threatening to ruin their future. She's all business here."

Notice the hint of green, white, and blue silk peeking out from under the trench? The Lanvin top that she wears—paired with Giorgio Armani trousers, Jimmy Choo pumps, and a white Prada bag—has deeper meaning too: "There's white in the top because we want her to feel like the old Olivia, then green because of Andrew and the ugly mess that he's created, and the blue is for Mellie since that's her color." Ms. Pope always has something up her sleeve!

For more of the show's fashion, follow @LynPaolo and @ScandalABC on Twitter. Then tune in to ABC on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.