Skip To Content

    Inside Olivia Pope's Closet

    We visited the Scandal wardrobe closet and spoke with costume designer Lyn Paolo. And you won't believe which coat Kerry Washington hated.

    This is Lyn Paolo, the woman who dresses Olivia Pope on Scandal.

    If anyone knows an Olivia Pope look, it's Lyn Paolo, who's been the costume designer for Scandal since the show's pilot. Now that Scandal is in its third season, that distinct Pope palette has become iconic, even though it's changed ever so slightly with each new season.

    "I love the idea of having Olivia, this beautiful woman, in a room full of men in dark suits, and she's in that white suit," the British-born Paolo said of dressing Kerry Washington. "She just epitomizes strong femininity. I wanted her to just sort of glow, and ultimately look so feminine, and very Jackie O. She's Kate Hepburn, basically."

    Paolo dresses the entire cast of Scandal — from Fitz down to David — but Olivia Pope gets her own wardrobe closet, which is large enough to hold two walls of trench coats, white pants, silk pajamas, and all those Prada purses. There's a table lined with scarves, and a full-length mirror complete with pedestal for Washington to stand on during fittings.

    The only time Paolo and series star Kerry Washington have ever disagreed on wardrobe was during the pilot, when Paolo thought Pope should be in skirts, and Washington firmly pushed for pants. "In the end, she was right," Paolo admitted.

    Before Scandal, Paolo worked as a costume designer on ER, which she credits with her ability to use clothing to further the plot. "I learned really fast how to tell a story through clothes on that show," she said. Now she currently juggles working on Scandal and Showtime's Shameless. But Paolo let BuzzFeed in on her secrets behind what clothes end up on Pope, and how they help to tell the scandalous stories.

    1. The jacket Olivia wore when her world went dark.

    2. The gown that showed Olivia's strength.

    3. The first use of Alexander McQueen.

    4. The coat Kerry Washington hated.

    5. The flowing vintage gown that almost didn't happen.

    6. Olivia's iconic white trench

    7. The Ralph Lauren trench

    8. The coat that fans ask about the most

    9. The look that brought back gloves.

    10. Olivia's '80s style hat

    11. The origin of the original Prada purse

    12. Pope's very first Prada was the same style Meryl Streep used in The Devil Wears Prada

    Episode: Season 3, Episode 2, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"

    Designer: Prada

    Why it was chosen: "That was the first Prada purse in Olivia Pope's life. She changed; they grabbed her purse and she starts the next day with the Prada."

    Fun Fact: "She was carrying a Ralph Lauren purse when she was mugged in the train station," Paolo says of the episode prior to this one. "So the next time you see her going to see her dad, she's actually carrying the purse that Meryl Streep used in The Devil Wears Prada in that opening sequence. Prada took it out of their archives in Italy and sent it to us, so it was current for seven years ago."

    Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.