How to dress like Olivia Pope

It's no scandal to say that Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) is one of the snappiest dressers TV has to offer right now. The political problem-solving guru wears her ferocious heart right there on her sleeve in every episode of ABC's hit series, and she knows just how to handle putting together winning daily ensembles. Her style is so swank that it might seem unattainable, but it's actually fairly easy to imitate. Any good gladiator can get Liv's look by following these few simple rules. Here's how to dress just like Scandal's style icon without breaking a sweat (or the bank).

Default to a muted palette

One of Olivia Pope's signature sartorial moves is to stick to the basics when it comes to fabric colorations. Her clothes are usually either white, beige, light gray, or black, depending on her mood, which means when she does throw a new hue into the mix, it really pops. The elegance and class of her office wear is owed, in part, to the fact to those subtle material tones are understated, sophisticated, and don't take attention away from her exquisite face. Here, she's wearing a conservative, textured Dolce and Gabbana button-up jacket that allows her expression to say it all.

Olivia's also not afraid to be matchy-matchy with those shade schemes – cream on cream, even after Labor Day, is no crime in her book. The freshness her soft colors bring to the table is a lovely contrast to the strident words that usually come out of her mouth, so it gives her some extra oomph when she takes someone to task. So, when it comes to picking out those everyday staple items in real life, remember: less is more on the color front.

Splendid coats are essential

Another of Olivia's closet criterions is an excellent coat selection, preferably involving large buttons. In fact, many of the most jaw-dropping fashion moments from the entire show have involved a jacket that was so fabulous it stole the scene from everyone involved – even her. Consider the chic Max Mara coat (pictured left) she wore to visit Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in the hospital in Season 2. It was full-on finesse for Liv, especially once she paired it with those dashing Dorothy Gaspar gloves, and the excitement of the garb grabbed many an eye while all the Olitz drama unfolded around it.

Lyn Paolo, costume designer for the series, remembered how this memorable fashion moment came to be, telling E! Online, "Kerry and I fell in love with this coat but I didn't like where the sleeves hit on her arms and suggested gloves. But then we felt like it was so contrived because this was the hospital scene where she was going to see Fitz – and would she have really taken the time to put on these long gloves? And I just said, 'You know, it's a fashion moment and Olivia Pope can put herself together no matter what is going on in her life. I think we should go for it!'" For those thinking about this fashion moment with serious purse envy, it's unfortunately a pricey member of the Prada collection called the White Bauletto I Vit.Daino Talco Tu – say that five times fast — but a more affordable alternative could easily work, too.

As with this one, most of Olivia's finest pieces of outerwear have usually involved dominant collar construction, along with a little asymmetrical action. So, when trying to scoop up a suitable replica, keep the shape of the piece – and, of course, the above-mentioned tint trend – in mind. The bigger, the better, in this case. Just look to the lines on her white Burberry caped trench coat and light pink Salvatore Ferragamo coats (pictured middle and right, respectively) for shaping inspo before the winter wear window browsing begins.

When using colors, make it sing

As Liv's personality has evolved throughout the show, she's started to add to her caramel color game and bring in some new zing, like this orange and violet Fendi ensemble she wore in the midseason premiere of Season 5. Paolo told Entertainment Weekly that the surprising selection was meant to be just that: a surprise. "When we first see Olivia, the thing we really wanted to do was shock the audience […]. We literally wanted them to be like, 'Oh my God, we do not know what's going on, or who this person is anymore,'" she said.

The takeaway? Your daily wear might be a little monochromatic, but it means that when you do want to stand out, it can be as simple as picking the right bright piece to shine. For Olivia, she's tended towards the yellow-orange-red side of the spectrum when opting for an impact outfit, but that might not always be the right fit for your individual look, so feel free to explore the rest of the rainbow to select the most dynamic fit for you. As Paolo advised via ET Online, "Know your body, find what looks good on you and stick with that. Always be true to yourself and you will have the OP swagger."

Don't be afraid to mix and match pieces

One of the great things about the Scandal siren being such a fashion hero is that the costumers have made a concentrated effort to recycle pieces throughout. As Paolo explained to People Magazine, "We wanted Olivia to have a closet space, so in every episode, we wear at least one item that Olivia has worn before. These are real people."

In fact, even though Liv always looks incredibly put together on-screen, Paolo told E! Online that most of her suits are a hodge podge of individual pieces. "We never buy a complete suit. We usually are mixing and matching. We are trying to create our own look." The reason that little tidbit might often go unnoticed is that so many of Liv's pieces are neutral enough to easily match up with something new, like this Rebecca Bourke quartz necklace that founds it way into more than one of her looks in Season 3. This is yet another reason why the simple base palette is such a solid fashion foundation for her (and you) to go with.

Always bring in a subtle accent

Even when she's donning her most bare-bones business-ready attire, Olivia always has at least one accessory to tie the whole thing together. Whether it's her trademark bulk bags, a delicate necklace strand, a pair of leather gloves, or even an umbrella, the added touch is always thrown into the garb mix to remind everyone within view that she is, indeed, ever the belle of the ball. Oh, and the white hat is more than just a metaphor, as she proved with her custom Louise Green fedora (right) that completely set apart her bright white business suit.

When it comes to her accessories, Olivia has a knack for finding a piece that's at once a statement item and low key. With her many Prada purses, for example, they're usually huge but also rather unembellished and light-colored (added bonus of that: they'll match just about everything from her closet); and her jewelry is often dainty and unextravagant, but still reflects her composure and refinery. So, when in the market for those key add-ons, opt for something with an air of neutrality to complete the Olivia-inspired look.

Dresses are all about shape

Olivia Pope has had plenty of opportunities to go extra glam for the various high-profile affairs she's cool enough to attend, and she's taken every opportunity to show off her untouchable ball gown game. One of the most successful elements has been the thrilling interplay between her traditional color choices and bold geometrics woven into the dresses' construction.

In the second season, for example, for Fitz's birthday party, she wore an amazing Jean Fares couture gown (left) that was "a nightmare" to work with behind the scenes but stunned on-screen with its linear and curving embellishments; then, later in the season, she wore a two-toned Escada gown (middle) that had some rigid points coming in at the waistline, which represented her inner turmoil and emotional division. At the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Season 3, she turned the "eat your heart out" dial way up with this sharp-shaped Rubin Singer design (right). "I wanted something with hard edges," Paolo told EW of the choice. "It's sexy and it's feminine, but there's no sweetness to it […]. This is the tough Olivia."

For those at home, when the occasion calls for extra swagger, consider taking a leaf from the Olivia Pope playbook by looking for similarly striking edges or a piece that has a pronounced detail woven in.

Wine is always in style

Red wine enthusiasts have found a kindred spirit in Olivia Pope because, just as James Bond has given some serious cachet to the shaken-not-stirred martini scene, Liv's been making that nightly cabernet sippage a must-do routine. The drink, which, when in public, can be a total part of a person's intentional ambiance, is a notorious stain nightmare. Which means when she chooses it, whilst wearing her fabulous (oft light-colored) frocks, she appears even more unafraid and self-possessed. So, it perfectly aligns with her fearless demeanor.

If you really want to capture her presence, and the occasion for spirits selection presents itself, nursing a glass of the red stuff is just the ticket to the finish line… age permitting, of course. Cheers!