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Olivia wore this Jean Fares gown to Fitz's 50th birthday party. Image via: ABC.com
This special, unplanned post brought to you by Scandal and its dropping a black tie event on us when we least expect it. NO SPOILERS AHEAD! I'm not sure when Olivia Pope has time to shop for black tie gowns, but we've seen her wear a few of them, and she never repeats. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised given the fashionable spin she gives to everyday workwear. And we know she has the money. We've also almost only seen her go formal in black tie, except for the one time her and Fitz...you know, in the oval office post-inauguration, and another time she opts for a short dress in preparation for a night out (we see her in her room, but I think she gets interrupted and never wears it outside? I might be wrong). Lyn Paolo, costume designer on Scandal has been quoted saying that the use of black and white in costuming represents the uncertainty of good vs. bad and who fits which description when, and nothing is more notable about the color palette than its consistent presence in Olivia's gowns. 

Her first formal appearance in season one, episode 3 (my favorite look she's ever worn) has her in an all white, halter-neck, backless number that shows what a fashion player she is, considering this is in her closet or someone is on call to get this for her. She surprises Fitz by showing up at a state dinner, and I think that dress works as an excellent vehicle for a strategic surprise. I wish I knew who designed it.
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Image via: Netflix screenshot. (The best I could do)
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And the best shot I could get of the back, also screenshotted from Netflix.
The next time we see her in a gown is in season 2, episode 7 on her way to Fitz's 50th birthday "bash" that he doesn't want and doesn't end up going to. The gown is Jean Fares and is from a previous season than when the episode was airing. By the next time we see her dressed up, it's at a fundraising gala where she's on call for a client later in season 2 (episode 15). Lines have started to be blurred at this point, and we can tell because she's in black and white. Fitz also attends this gala. Jealousy ensues. I also love that this Escada gown with a sheer lace back is reminiscent of her inauguration dress.
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Image via: ABC.com
And since that gala, it's been a while! Until last night, season 3 episode 5, Olivia was back at it, and she really upped her game this time. This time Olivia is at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and she goes for a structured bodice Rubin Singer dress, also in black and white. And she goes with gloves to accessorize as well as a fancy hairdo. It's actually not one of my favorites by comparison, but it makes a statement and it's part of a formal dressing evolution Olivia's character is continuously going through. And it's inarguably a beautiful gown. I'm glad they stayed with the black and white theme. Going back to all white would have seemed weird at this point. And color? No. I wish there was a full length picture of her wearing it because there were several in the episode, but I can't find one as of now and Hulu isn't formatted for stealthy screenshots. If you want to be just like Liv, you can buy this dress right now at Saks and Neiman Marcus. That is, if you have 3,000 dollars lying around.
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Image via: ABC.com
It's obviously possible to endlessly analyze Olivia Pope's wardrobe choices, but I think her formal style is interesting. Most people don't get to go to black tie events...ever, so it's interesting now that we've seen Olivia attend four different ones at different times in her situation with Fitz and other surrounding life events. Kerry Washington and Lyn Paolo do an excellent job at keeping it realistic when it comes to Olivia's income, style, personality, event and the way she usually approaches getting dressed. I love seeing what they come up with. I just still have to wonder if she has these hanging in her immaculate closet (where the clothes she wears actually hang! and they repeat them!) or if she has a personal shopper friend/former client at Saks or Barneys or some such that pulls these out when she needs them. That season 1 gown was very last minute, after all. 
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