Olivia Pope, the protagonist of the ABC drama Scandal, is a strong, independent powerhouse that breaks barriers for women in politics. Between influencing international policy or fixing a scandal, she makes time to set style trends that achieve the perfect balance of professional and stylish. Even though Scandal’s final season aired in 2018, Olivia Pope’s iconic style still perfectly exudes corporate professionalism without sacrificing an ounce of fashion sense. She remains a style icon because she proved that serious people still care about fashion by creating looks that were simultaneously powerful and glamorous. In the transition from a sleep-deprived college student to a go-getter intern, I found myself relying on Olivia’s well-curated looks to guide me along the way.
- Statement coats are essential.
Olivia arguably created the market for the statement coat. The show’s popularity inspired a successful Scandal collection with The Limited, featuring the well-tailored, eye-catching coats Olivia is known for. For a good statement coat, structure is everything. She plays with peplums and drape collars, but most importantly, the silhouette never drowns or overwhelms her.
- Big purses are the best work bag.
The proper work bag has always been an enigma to me. It’s easy to feel out of place with all of the briefcases, backpacks and other (boring) bags that clash with the elegance of a power suit. Olivia proves that big purses in neutral tones are a strong but simple statement, perfect for storing laptops, a spare set of shoes, and anything else you might need.
- Be a gladiator in a suit.
A well-fitted power suit can go a long way. Yes, business dresses are exceptionally flattering and elegant, but nothing can compare to the absolute confidence strutting in a suit can give you. Pants are obviously the more functional option, but that does not mean they can’t be fashionable. A matching jacket and pants with a neutral blouse underneath is one of the most versatile and professional outfits for any working woman such as Oliva Pope.
- Don’t shy away from heels!
On the topic of the strut, there is no better tool for a confident, successful walk than a good pair of heels. The long hours of a workday can often lead to the practical choice of flats, but the possibility of blisters is definitely worth the satisfying click sounds and extra inches of confidence-boosting height.
- Know what works for you and own it.
One of the best lessons Olivia Pope drove home in her character arc on Scandal was her unwillingness to compromise who she was, and that is clearly expressed through her fashion. She was well known for her neutral color palette that shined the focus on her face. She drank her red wine and ate popcorn almost every night. These were consistent things about Olivia’s character, and they proved that she had a strong sense of self and wasn’t afraid to express it. When dressing for the workplace, I always strive to achieve a little of Olivia’s confidence, grace and overall glamour through the lessons she left along the way.