By Janelle Grodsky
Updated Mar 11, 2016 @ 7:30 am
Nicole Wilder

After a week off, Scandal returned Thursday night with a brand-new episode. Even though Olivia Pope's wardrobe is slowly transitioning to brighter hues, we're still not used to seeing Kerry Washington's character in these colors. It's a shock every time she flashes on screen in her new favorite yellows, reds, and oranges. Costume designer, Lyn Paolo, gave InStyle the scoop on why Olivia's look has changed so drastically.

"She's feeling really powerful right now," Paolo says. "She's happy in a way. It shows in the brighter colors we've been using." After all the drama she's faced this season, it's great to see Olivia in a better state. In fact, she wears the marigold Narciso Rodriguez dress again (pictured above), which is the very same one that Michelle Obama wore to the State of the Union this year!

Nicole Wilder

Over the dress, she wears a black Alexander McQueen coat paired with bright orange Christian Dior gloves. Did you catch her matching orange Manolo Blahnik heels as well? This is certainly a new side of Olivia!

Her changing look continues throughout the episode as well. First, she wears a charcoal gray Christian Dior jacket with a red windowpane stripe. "I call it a 'Mellie red,'" Paolo explains. "In that scene, she's going to see Mellie who always used to wear red and now she's in the color." Later in the show, she switches to a block pattern Salvatore Ferragamo coat that has tones of white, black, brown, and burnt orange. "She's gladiating in this outfit," Paolo says. "There's a bit of white in it."

Even when she faces off with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in the Oval Office, she's wearing hints of green—a color she almost never wears. "We wanted a little of the old Olivia with a bit of green for jealousy," Paolo says of Pope's white Christian Dior coat with a subtle green and navy windowpane stripe on it.

Nicole Wilder

It all culminates until the end of the episode when Olivia is feeling her most confident, showing up to her father's house for dinner when Jake (Scott Foley) and his new girlfriend are also there. In this scene, she wears a bold red Alberta Ferretti coat. "We put her in this amazing coat to help her feel more powerful in this moment," Paolo says. "She's really strong by the end of this episode."

The ladies of the White House are dressing just as fun as our favorite D.C. fixer. In this scene, Abby (Darby Stanchfield) wears a charcoal dress and jacket by Paul Smith. "She is evolving and becoming more of a power player in the White House," Paolo explains. "We're going to reflect that change in her costume."

Nicole Wilder

Elizabeth, played by Portia de Rossi, has a notable look throughout the episode as well. She wears a floral patterned Gucci blouse paired with a Salvatore Ferragamo skirt. "Because of this love triangle that she's in, we wanted something soft and feminine, but with a strong print so that her dominatrix side is still there."

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.