Lessons from Liv

Oliva Pope

Chicago fashion stylist shares 5 characteristics that make Olivia Pope the ideal styling muse for the professional woman.

Scandal withdrawal is in full effect! Fans everywhere are searching for ways to fill the void this summer, as we wait for season three of primetime television’s hottest American political thriller. I spent my would-be Scandal time talking with Nancy Plummer, fashion stylist and author of Your Personal Style, about what makes Olivia Pope an ideal style muse for professional women everywhere.

Costume designer Lyn Paolo nailed it – creating a gladiator style worth following. So what is it that makes Olivia Pope’s wardrobe one to watch?  Ms. Plummer says, “Lyn puts timeless wardrobe selection factors to work for Kerri Washington’s character. Here are the  5 pillars for achieving impeccable style and creating a visual identity that stands out from the crowd.”

1.  FIT – Olivia always wears perfectly tailored separates that fit her body to a T.  This is one of the most important keys to looking your best at all times. Invest in a good tailor. The garments on set are not custom made for Kerry Washington’s body, but each piece is tailored to fit and it shows! Your tailor could be your local dry cleaner, seamstress friend or an alterations company. Whether your needs are to shorten sleeves, or nip the waist, tailor your clothing so it looks like you were meant to wear these clothes.

2.  COLOR – Olivia stands out from her Washington, DC constituents.  She wears a pastel color palette and monochromatic, tone-on-tone ensembles. While ordinary professionals sport dark gray and navy blue, Olivia sweeps in with soft neutrals, whites, grays and pinks. Even her footwear is part of this soft color palette. This use of color shows femininity and strength.  Invest in a color analysis to see what colors look best on you. Begin wearing your best colors in a monochromatic fashion for a classy, professional look.

3.  FABRIC – Olivia wears natural fibers: cashmere, silk, and wool of the highest quality. The higher the quality the longer the garment will last. Olivia’s power suits are Armani, Escada, and Valentino. Yours may be Zara , Ann Taylor or Theory. The fabrics  may not be of a 100 percent natural fiber, but that just means pieces will not last as long as 100 percent natural premium garments. Invest in the highest quality fabric you can afford.

4.  QUALITY – The word quality means, “the standard of something measured against other things of a similar kind.” We’ve all heard the mantra, ‘Buy the best quality you can afford.’ In Olivia Pope’s case this is Armani suits, Prada handbags and Movado watches. These brands all fall in line with her elegant yet understated visual identity. Look for, and buy the best in whatever price range you are seeking.

5.  STYLE – Olivia’s style is modern with a touch of femininity. Olivia’s essentials would include silk blouses, peplum jackets, wide leg trousers, high, notched and wide collars, cowl necklines, loose cardigans, trench coats, and matched suits – skirt and pants. Olivia’s jewelry consists of dainty, long necklaces that are not too overpowering and blends in with her total outfit. Style is unique and personal to you. Olivia’s clothing choices express strength, femininity and success. What is your style?  When you know the attributes you want to project, it is easier to decide if your clothing is working for or against you.

As a professional working woman Olivia Pope may be your muse! Add elements of your own personal affect and you will definitely turn heads.



About Kali Patrice

Kali Patrice is the founder of The Image Studios, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in branding and image communication. She blogs through “Successful Expression” to share fresh ways to share insights about image, personal branding and self-expression.