Olivia Pope Does Not Wear THAT Much White

I sat and listened to the entire hour and a half conversation Vulture hosted with some of the costume designers for today’s buzziest shows and let me just say: It’s full of interesting nuggets of fashion tv information. The proclamation by Scandal designer Lyn Paolo that Olivia Pope does not wear that much white (we just think she does) is just the tip of the iceberg. kerry-washington-olivia-pope-gray-suit

    • Olivia Pope does not wear that much white. Honestly. “I think you’d be surprised, if you went back she doesn’t wear white as often as people think she does,” said Paolo. “It’s become synonymous with the show, but in reality she wears a lot of gray because her life is muddy and she’s not certain who she is or where she’s going. We contrast her with Mellie who’s always in a lot of bold colors because Mellie’s actually really vulnerable and broken and hurt inside, but she tries to present herself in this different way. On Scandal, I would never muddy [colors] because everyone has to be clear on who they are.”
  • Liv’s Prada bag? A total accident. “It was a happy accident. I had an old, beaten-up Prada purse in my fitting with Kerry and we had all these purses in the room for her, and she loved my purse and said, ‘I want to carry that in the pilot.’ I never got it back!”
  • You know you’re in a flashback scene when… Olivia’s in a skirt. “We always change the silhouette for flashbacks. Because the show moves so quickly, I think sometimes it’s hard for the audience to know where we are, so we are very mindful of changing the silhouette to alert [them] it’s a different time and place.”


    • A lot more than you’d think goes into the Orange is the New Black uniforms. “I’m actually still completely surprised no one’s asked me why the inmates aren’t in orange given that that’s the title of the show,” said designer Jenn Rogien. “Our prison population is actually in khaki and the orange is reserved for new inmates. Our prison is loosely based on a real prison that uses three different colors: orange, khaki, and pine green. We opted to go with khaki to reinforce the institutionalization of inmates. You’re striped of your name, personal choices, essentially your identity, and you’re also devoid of color. The orange was a very distinct choice to make new inmates stand out. There were scripted references to that in the first couple of episodes, [like] ‘When do I get out of this? When do I get the khakis? I’m a target.’ It was, ‘You don’t want the khakis. You’ll [be] like everyone else, you’ll get overlooked.'”
  • Speaking of which, those uniforms are the real thing. “We’ve strictly limited tailoring because we didn’t want it to be the TV version of a prison show. It’s only been tailored in cases where it actually relates to the character. For example, for Sophia, her entire identity is femininity and gender and being aware of her physicality and shape, so her uniform has been altered to reflect that because she would’ve done that herself.”


    • The Girls wardrobe comes from all over. “It’s a huge amount of mix and match. Some vintage, some thrift, some retail, to try and approximate the way people really put their clothes together,” said Rogien, who also works on the hit HBO show. “I use a lot of pieces over and over again which is not usual for a television show. Throughout the seasons, you’ll see things show up that we’ve had in the characters’s closets since season one.”
  • Jessa’s white dress choices are significant. “She wears a white dress once a season and it stands out, I think because it’s not a television color. It’s a hard color to light and it’s hard not to have it stand out like a sore thumb. It also has a lot of emotional significant, like white is pure, white is clean. It’s a blank slate. It all ties back to her babysitting dress, which is the exact wrong choice for [that] scenario. You’re going to wear a sheer white dress if you’re babysitting young children and meeting the parents?”


    • You’re never going to see Claire Underwood in this-season anything. Because in real life, the majority of people working in politics aren’t taking home super-hefty paychecks. “The thing with Washington is that everybody wants to fit in,” said costume designer Tom Broecker. “Claire’s YSL Muse bag was, you know, two seasons old, because she doesn’t want to stand out amongst those people and have them go, ‘Oh, she’s the rich girl.’ It’s not about flaunting money, but fitting into the structure. No one wants to be known as the rich people in Washington.”
  • Which is different than the D.C. of Scandal… Paolo knows this. “Pope and Associates are super high-end because they’re outside, they’re not part of that world. But when you get to the West Wing, we tone it down aggressively, consciously, and the audience has been asking about that. Politics and what Olivia Pope does are two different worlds, and we have to show that.”
  • Frank’s suits changed, too. “On the first [season], it was all about control and fitting in, and the second was a loosening and breaking up. Francis went from wanting to establish an idea that his suits were all British and in the second season, he wanted to make them a little more American and change the silhouette to make them a little tighter and slimmer, to reflect his desire to be a little more Machiavellian. His palette became a little darker and shinier and not quite as fitting-in as much.”

Tags from the story
More from Maria Di Benedetti
Some Luxurious Beauty Advices to Try
Beauty is such a waste of time, people say. But is that...
Read More
Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.