Every time Kerry Washington graces the small screen as Scandal‘s Olivia Pope, she inspires hundreds (okay, hundreds of thousands) of office outfit upgrades. And it turns out the star wears a few pieces from Pope’s closet even when she’s not playing the political fixer.
“I may have borrowed some of her cashmere sweaters,” Washington tells PEOPLE exclusively. “Her loungewear is similar to my flying gear.”
The actress also reveals that she has a few key pieces from her and show costume designer Lyn Paolo’s collection with The Limited. “There are some things that we designed from that line I do own, like easy cardigans.”
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The 38-year-old star, who’s back on the set for season five of the hit show, says that slipping into Pope’s wardrobe is critical for settling back into character. “To go back to [wearing] Armani, beautiful Prada bags and Manolo Blahniks, it really helps you find the character.”
And Washington even takes the transformation a step further, rehearsing in heels and keeping fragrance to a minimum while filming because Pope doesn’t have a signature scent. “I tend to use fragrances as a way to access a character, but Olivia doesn’t wear perfume, so I don’t really have one that I wear for most of the year unless I’m going out at night.”
But just because Pope’s wardrobe, like Washington’s, elicits a “wow” from us on the regular, it doesn’t mean the star and her character are style soul mates.
“Olivia’s aesthetic is so different than mine,” says the actress. One major difference: their hairstyles. “Olivia’s hair is usually down, but when I’m not working, I like to pull my hair back because it feels more like me,” says Washington, whose preferred pulled-back style serves a dual purpose: “I think it’s important to give your hair the opportunity to replenish … I like to put a good deep-conditioning mask (the Neutrogena spokeswoman’s fave is the brand’s Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask) in my hair, throw it up in a bun and just let it heal.”
What would you wear from Olivia Pope’s closet? Share with us in the comments below.
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For more on Washington’s style and beauty routine, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands everywhere Friday