In nearly every episode of Scandal, Olivia Pope dons the commanding color of white, neutral tones, or a chic pantsuit. Her pantsuit gives her power and authority. When she walks into a room, Olivia immediately captures everyone’s attention because of who she is and because of her dominating style choices. When she wears a pantsuit, viewers know that the character means business and wants to be perceived as a strong and powerful woman. However, in other situations, she can be seen wearing natural sweaters and loungewear in the privacy of her own home and around individuals she feels most comfortable with. In these scenes, the audience knows that Olivia Pope is meant to be viewed under a softer lens. This part of her wardrobe reminds the audience that, despite how strong she displays herself in the matters of business, she too possess a vulnerable side.
Olivia’s signature color is white. No matter which of the two options, soft sweaters or sharp pantsuits, the audience will at one point, catch her in a white ensemble. In the literary context, the color white generally symbolizes purity and innocence. This is a juxtaposition to Olivia’s character because she is at times forced into morally conflicting situations because of her job and the political scene she is enthralled in. Other staple colors to Pope’s wardrobe include deep navy blues and greys. The white and other soft colors interweaved throughout her wardrobe reflect the purity of her character.
Annalise Keating’s style differs from Olivia Pope’s but follows some of the same themes. Annalise can be seen, when lecturing or working a case, in conservative dresses that reflect her professionalism. She infrequently wears pants, but when she does, it strays away from the uniform of coordinating sets usually found in Pope’s wardrobe. Annalise’s dresses reflect her feminine and soft side while remaining professional and asserting her dominance over her students who also help on her cases. Annalise’s character comes off as more intense and daunting as Olivia’s. Therefore, the style choice of dresses rather than pantsuits really allows Annalise’s softer side to come through and for the audience to see her in a multidimensional light.
As opposed to Olivia’s soft color scheme, Annalise wears medium tones ranging from greens to maroons to oranges and blues. These are not bright colors but definitely add a pop to her legal-style wardrobe. The addition of color adds another element to the harsh and sharp character of Annalise Keating and enhances her relatability and vulnerability. If she were to be dressed in all black, that would only add to her intensity.
Shonda Rhimes creates intricate worlds in her shows How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal where she tests ethical and moral problems by putting her characters in questionable scenarios. Their moral compasses and style can not only be seen by their actions in each episode but also by their overall style.