Sure, Olivia Pope isn’t perfect, but damn it, she’s still better than we are if only because she can wear white without staining it.
Ultimately, Olivia Pope's style is on point, 110% of the time. Looking back, she’s never worn anything questionable – even if some of us (hello) can’t wear cowl neck sweaters without looking like we don’t have necks at all. She’s worn white on white. She wore a white ball gown and didn’t look like she was in a wedding dress. She taught Julia Stiles how to make the Gap hip. (Wait . . . that was Kerry Washington in "Save the Last Dance." But still.)
We can learn a lot from Olivia Pope. But since we don’t have unlimited space to argue whether or not she should pack up and just move away from Washington altogether, we’re going to focus on what we can learn from her style, just in time for the "Scandal" Season 3 finale, which airs on April 18. Put on your suit, it’s time to be a gladiator.
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1. Trench Coats Are Never A Bad Idea
When was the last time you looked at somebody in a trench coat and thought, “Ugh, what a bad idea.” Never. You never did that, because as proven by Olivia Pope, they make every single outfit look powerful. Wearing jeans? Add a trench coat. Wearing a skirt? Add a trench coat. Wearing pajamas? Add a trench coat. (You may get a few looks, but who are they to judge? You’re wearing a trench coat.) And surprise, surprise, they’re a staple of spring/summer 2014: Lanvin debuted a red piece earlier this year, and Burberry still has a monopoly on them too. (Which is Olivia Pope’s trench brand.)
2. Wear White Fearlessly
We can’t all be Olivia Pope, but we can try. So step one: wear light colours. Just wear them. Will you spill on and/or stain them? Probably – we’re not actors, we’re regular people. But when you think of how confidently Olivia Pope wears white and manages not to spill, the odds are in our favour (and also: who cares – spill, and then make it a good story). Not to mention, summertime calls for white, and you can pick up a white top at literally any store minus Hot Topic. As for white suits, Ralph Lauren seemed to stake its claim on the tone once again this summer.
3. Home Is For Comfort, Don't Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise
If Olivia Pope can curl up in pajama pants and slouchy sweaters, so can you. And if she drinks an enormous glass of wine while doing so – again – so can you. Just don’t be surprised if you answer the door and the president’s shown up. (Or the actor who plays him.)
4. Grey’s Okay!
Vulture pointed out last year that Olivia Pope actually wears more grey suits than white, and they have a point: we may see her in a lot of white loungewear and white pieces, but when it comes to her suits, grey’s where it’s at. It’s also safe: not only is it less intimidating than white, it’s physically cooler than black (come summertime), and it’s available in droves. Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen is a testament to the popularity, while the uniformed colours of Brandy Melville can help you channel Ms. Pope as well as “less business suit-oriented” vibes.
5. Belt Those Waists
Here’s something we’ll never see Olivia Pope in: anything that makes her look sloppy. Even if she’s wearing an oversized “at-home” sweater, she’s pairing it with a fitted tank – or if outside the house spectrum (ex. at Camp David), she’s belting the waist so she still looks put together. It’s the perfect, cheap quick fix: to look more business, she cinches the waist. Kind of like what we saw in Michael Kors’ spring 2014 collection. (And in white too!)
6. Don’t Go Bridal
Vulture made another great point when highlighting the looks of Ms. Pope: even when she’s wearing white formally, she never looks like she’s about to get married. In Olivia’s case, she never wears all white: she accents pieces with black lace or silver – anything that breaks up the look. Think Lela Rose spring 2014, who actually seemed to pay tribute to Pope’s black and white number from Season 2.
7. Traditional Collars Are Boring
Well, not always – but if you can button it super high, or even make a statement, do it. Olivia Pope hardly ever wears a traditional button-up, and she still wears her various blouses with relatively “traditional” blazers. (Or lapels, more specifically.) You can mix and match. Let Olivia help lead the way.
8. Don’t Ever Doubt Long Leather Gloves
Well, you can, but you don’t need to. Spring and summer may be coming (sure, weather people), but when they subside – and they will – you can stock up on the only winter garment that truly is both fashionable and functional. (We all gave up on style winter boot-wise, right? By the time the third layer of salt found its way? Remember when we once believed in suede?) Long, leather gloves: for the Olivia Pope in all of us.
9. Think Texture
None of us have ever seen two things: 1) President Obama on "Scandal," and 2) Olivia Pope wear plain, boring cotton. She wears tweed, she wears silk, she wears cashmere, and she wears nothing flimsy. (Even sheer pieces are paired with a more substantial jacket or pant.) Max Mara did a good job of capitalizing on texture this season, boasting everything from camel hair to leather in the Spring/summer collection. Go texture happy, and mix and match – we deserve more than the basics.
10. The Wider The Lapels, The Wider The Power
How Olivia Pope summons her power: through wine (obviously), through the colour white, through her intelligence/skill set, and through her lapels. She’s not Dolly in "9 to 5," but she’s walking the ‘80s line a la Isabel Marant’s collection this season. Use those lapels to scare anyone with lesser lapels away. That’s what "Scandal" is all about anyway, right?