kerry-washington_web.jpgNEW YORK – Notice anything different about Olivia Pope’s look this season on Scandal? It’s still full of the very best designer labels, and her suits – a good chunk of her wardrobe – blend an aggressive edge with a sexy shape while staying professional.

But in Season 3, there’s a hint more color, and many of the silhouettes are asymmetrical, showing her just a bit off-kilter. “Hopefully viewers will see the emotional reason to make these changes, and we’ve amped up the fashion, too, because we needed it for the story,” explains costume designer Lyn Paolo.

Olivia has a full life and – just like everyone else – needs the right clothes for it, says Paolo, who talks about her favorite character on ABC’s hit inside-the-Beltway show (Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST) as if she were real.

Kerry Washington, a fashion It Girl in her own right, plays Olivia, described by the network as a “professional fixer.” The show has to buy the clothes and keep them because Paolo is unsure if creator Shonda Rhimes will want to revisit a particular scene in a flashback.

As a result, Olivia’s closet is as big as the Manhattan Starbucks where Paolo met a reporter. Paolo shops from the runway, at department stores, from windows and online.

Paolo says she keeps dozens of files on imaginary characters, cutting out photos and jotting down notes about what they would wear and stuffing them into folders.

One was “an African-American woman in light clothes and a custom Louise Green hat,” she said. “I had an image of Diana Ross. I would have liked a bigger brim on the hat, but our sets are too dark and you couldn’t see Kerry’s face.”