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Power Dressing Tips Brought to You By the Fashion Forces Behind The Good Wife, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder

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Powerful female characters are dominating primetime TV right now. And their impeccable sense of style is hard to ignore — power dressing has never been cooler.

Below, three of TV’s biggest costume designers (from The Good Wife, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder!) share their tips for looking like a boss.

The Good Wife
David Giesbrecht/CBS


Daniel Lawson, The Good Wife and Limitless

What’s the best outfit for a powerful first impression?
“You want an outfit that is clean and strong. You want an outfit that has one strong piece that the other elements support. I think often when one wants to “look great” or “look confident”, he or she will over dress and come off looking unfocused and not strong at all. Keep it streamlined and focused. I often recommend using “a column of color” at the core of your look to come across as a strong individual. Even if you have a more colorful outer layer, maintaining a solid toned inner layer will give the effect of strength while being stylish and elegant. I do caution against using patterns in interviews; they just often throw off a look and the interviewee ends up looking scattered or not en-point.”

What’s the one piece you should splurge on for your career?
“You should splurge on the staples that will be the workhorses of your closet — good shoes, a great pencil (or A-line) skirt, black trousers, the perfect black dress to go under jackets, and an elegant bag. Although not always the rule, spending more on the staples will help ensure garment longevity.”
 
What’s your favorite look on Alicia Florrick? 
“I love the looks on Alicia that are very clean, modern and elegant. I think this type of look really speaks to the character of Alicia, and they look great on Julianna. I use so many different brands, but the key brands for Alicia are Armani, Lafayette 148, Akris, 35DL, Style Paris, Dior, Max Mara, Gucci.”
 
What’s her best color? 
“I am lucky because Julianna looks great in almost every color. I, of course, love her in deep reds and purples, but she also looks simply amazing in almost all neutrals. She can pull off creams, grays, blacks, navies, tans, and taupes like nobody’s business.”

No one tells Alicia what she can or can't do… #TheGoodWife

A photo posted by The Good Wife (@thegoodwife_cbs) on


Does she own sweatpants? 
“Of course Alicia owns sweatpants, don’t you?! Everyone has to unwind and be cozy at home to rejuvenate.”
 
What would Alicia wear for brunch? 
“I think a casual brunch would find Alicia in a nice pair of jeans, perhaps Hudson, Paige or DL1961, a great pair of ankle boots like something from Rag and Bone, a cashmere sweater and a nice suede blazer from 35DL or Akris Punto.”

What’s the most important thing to look for when buying a power suit? 
“Fit! It’s the most important thing when buying any type of clothing. That said, it’s important to find a suit in which you feel comfortable wearing, one that flatters your body and one that is capable of being split up so that you can wear just the jacket or the skirt or pants with other pieces. Versatility is always nice.”

Has Julianna ever taken anything with her from Alicia’s wardrobe? Which pieces in specific? 
“It is always flattering when the actors like their clothing so much that they want to borrow it for something. I think all my actors have made special requests at one time or another, which, as I said, really makes me feel good about the wardrobe I put them in.”

You also craft the wardrobe on Limitless, and dressing a guy like Brian (Jake McDorman) is obviously very different from dressing Alicia. What’s that process like?
“We have an amazing collaboration; Jake is incredibly in tune with his character of Brian.  In the pilot episode we were able to get Jake into some really beautiful leather jackets.  Our go-to for the pilot was Varvatos — very masculine with a real sense of style and confidence, which is key for Brian.”

RELATED PHOTOS: SAG Awards 2016: What My Character Would Wear on the Red Carpet

Scandal
Craig Sjodin/ABC




Lyn Paolo, Scandal

What’s the best outfit for a powerful first impression? 
“I always feel you can wear anything as long as you have a fantastic jacket to throw on over your dress or blouse.”
 
What’s the one piece you should splurge on for your career? 
“I always love to have the right purse, when I go for an interview holding onto the handle of a fine purse gives me a lot of confidence.”

Where do you get your dressing inspiration for dressing the powerful female characters on Scandal?
“My inspiration for the costumes on Scandal actually come from what Shonda Rhimes has written, her descriptions and the words she puts into the mouths of her characters are inspiring. I had done extensive research during the pilot process but now I really do rely on what our writers have put down on the page.”
 
We’ve seen Liv in sweats more than ever this season: Are they cashmere? Where do you shop for casual Olivia? 
“We actually refer to the look as our wine and popcorn look. We often use La Perla, Vince, and other silk cami’s and we pair them with cardigans/sweaters from many designers: Donna Karen, Ralph Lauren, Tse, Derek Lam are go-to designers for our cashmere cardigans.”
 
What’s your favorite piece from the Olivia Pope outfit archives? 
“I cannot pick one thing that is my favorite but she has the best shoe and purse collection. When we line them up for fittings it is so much fun. It always makes me smile.”
 
Abby has taken on a huge Power Dressing role this season with her job in the White House. Do you think she’s channeling Liv more? 
Abby has certainly upped her fashion game since she moved to the White House, however her style is her own. I love that Darby Stansfield has embraced the new look and we have a blast together putting together professional Press Secretary looks while still maintaining the fun that is Abby. We really love putting Abby in colors that show off Darby’s gorgeous locks…..and of course green is always a favorite.
 
Elizabeth North rocks great slacks and top combos: where does the inspiration come from? How do you differ up looks between characters? 
“This season Lizzie has been having a rough time, now that she and Abby have become a team I wanted both characters to have their own distinct look so we moved away from skirt suits and went for a Kate Hepburn look for Portia. Wide legged pants and elegant blouses…with her classic bob and our decision to go with this pant look I thought it would be reminiscent of Old Hollywood glamour. Portia looks fantastic in this look and I am really enjoying finding these pieces for her every episode.

Are you constantly browsing Net-a-Porter for outfit inspo?
“I am constantly looking at what is new in fashion and I am fortunate to have friends in the fashion world who let me access their lines early so we can be ahead of the trends. I am also blessed to have an amazing crew and my good friend Rene Raphael who does a lot of the shopping for the show has worked with me on the show since the pilot, so she is a huge asset to me and to the show.”

RELATED VIDEO: Olivia and Fitz Reach a Breaking Point in Scandal‘s Winter Finale

How to Get Away with Murder
Bob D’Amico/ABC




Linda Bass, How to Get Away with Murder

What’s the best outfit for a powerful first impression? 
 Speaking for myself, I always feel most confident in a beautiful blazer. Not necessarily a suit, more interesting paired with a uniquely cut pant, skirt, or dress. I also like to add a unique piece of jewelry to that combination.

What’s the one piece you should splurge on for your career? 
“The most important piece of wardrobe for career women to splurge on, again, should be a well-tailored blazer/jacket. It sets the tone for a finished and polished look.”

What areas of your wardrobe can you save money on? 
“Saving money on wardrobe is always the great challenge. Nothing is more beautiful than a well-tailored and beautifully fabricated garment. That being said, I think shopping at outlet malls and season end sales is the way to go. Don’t worry so much on the volume of your wardrobe, concentrate on the quality of your pieces.”

Where do you get your inspiration from for dressing the powerful female characters on your show?
“Finding clothes for my characters is the great challenge of my job. I will browse online sites, and fashion magazines, however, for me…I like to touch the clothes and feel the fabrics, so mostly, for my series regulars, I like to go into the stores.”
 
How do you approach dressing Viola Davis’s character Annalise?
“Annalise wears the fitted sheath very, very well so it is always our go to look. I also think, if you can wear it, nothing is more chic than that look. We do, however, shake it up with line dresses and, or shirt waisted  silhouettes. We are also going to introduce blazers and pants to Annalise’s closet. My favorite designers for Annalise are, all things Alexander McQueen, Max Mara, Victoria Beckham, Jason Wu and Armani.”

How about all her amazing jewelry?
“I like the way her accessories add an extra element to her polished wardrobe looks. Annalise way wear a vintage piece of African jewelry with a very pulled together Victoria Beckham dress and a whole new element is brought into the look. I like being eclectic with her jewelry pieces.  All of Annalise’s jewelry is costume…I think the most expensive piece. is $400 or $500, and most of her pieces are much less expensive. Viola loves accessories and wears them with great confidence…..that, I think is key.”

–Brittany Talarico