Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images
Nakisha Williams
December 29, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EST

Still searching for a New Year’s Eve outfit? PopStyle is here to help! From a black tie affair to a night on the couch, TV costume designers show you how to dress for any occasion. 

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is usually a “gladiator in a suit,” but when it came time for her to make a memorable entrance at President Fitzgerald’s birthday, Scandal costume designer Lyn Paolo dressed her to the nines. Read on for more about the thinking behind Olivia’s formal look and how you can whip up a similar look to wear to a fancy New Year’s Eve bash.

“The Jean Fares Couture gown was perfect for us, as we had so many parameters for how it needed to move in the story,” Paolo told EW. “Finding a dress that was stunning and functional was difficult but this one did it all. It flowed beautifully and Kerry looked amazing, everyone just stopped when she walked onto the set.”

The gown — which was also worn last year by Yvonne Strahovski’s character Sarah Walker on Chuck — is only available by custom order (email for more information) but Paolo, who added Nicholas Kirkwood heels and a Kotur clutch to complete Olivia’s ensemble, has a crafty suggestion for recreating the look.

“Find a strapless chiffon column dress and simply accessorize it with some delicate chandelier earrings. If you’re feeling really creative, head to your local bead store, buy a strip of beading, and attach it to the [bustline],” she said.  It’s not couture, but La Femme’s open back gown ($338 at has a similar feel.

Follow Nakisha on Twitter: @Nakisha.

Read more:

Entertainers of the Year: Kerry Washington

‘Scandal’ post-mortem: Guillermo Diaz on midseason finale’s biggest moments

Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington on ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’: Five highlights

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