Scandal Exclusive: Darby Stanchfield Dishes on Abby's Evolving Style, Plus, All the Scoop on Her Glam Looks from Thursday's Episode
Scandal fans know that Abby Whelan is boss lady-ing her way through Season 5. And her outfits are giving us just as much wardrobe envy as Olivia Pope’s do. So when we had the chance to catch a sneak peek at Abby’s upcoming wardrobe for this week’s episode, we were all in. We’d like to introduce you to Glabby — Glam Abby.
In the new episode, the star is wearing two bold looks for two different White House functions — a Michael Kors cocktail dress and a glittering Gustavo Cadile gown.
“Abby went from a career behind-the-scenes, behind managing the crisis and being Olivia’s right hand person, to in front of the camera,” Stanchfield tells PEOPLE of her TV alter ego. “She’s Press Secretary of the White House. Her wardrobe really reflects that. She’s really stepped up her style game.”
The gold dress was an immediate ‘Abby’ pick, and perfect for the holiday-themed episode.
“Working with Lyn Paolo our stylist and eye, that was the first one we grabbed off the rack,” Stanchfield says. “We’ve talked about the scene and the episode and it felt like a really great direction to go. Abby is really coming into her own at the White House so it felt really right for her to be in something bold — she’s not hiding.”
Paolo adds: “I love that Erica Courtney loaned some of the most beautiful jewels to the show for Abby, this added such a tone of elegance to the costumes.”
As for the updo, Stanchfield says the French twist balanced out the sexiness of the dress. “We went for a really traditional french roll to juxtapose the architectural lines of the dress.”
For her black tie moment of the episode, the star looks red carpet ready in a black strapless Gustavo Cadile design, covered in gold metallic flowers.
“It’s the first time Abby has ever done a black gown,” Stanchfield says. “It was an ‘Abby gown’ and not an ‘Olivia gown’ because Olivia’s formalwear is either black, white or both and this was black with big gold flowers.”
Paolo loves that the gown feels “special without being too fussy.”
“I loved this gown for the episode as it felt luxe and fresh,” she shares. “This is our holiday episode and we have not filmed the holiday season in the West Wing before so it was fun to play with golds, red and greens — layering the holiday feeling into the show through the costumes. This gown works because it feels special without being fussy.”
Fans of the show know that Abby’s former days on Team Pope were a bit less fashion-forward.
“Her signature style has gone from really practical like wide-leg Katharine Hepburn pants and lower high heels and leather jackets — things she could drop at any moment and go break into someone’s apartment,” the actress explains. “She had to sort of be prepared at any moment to do a bunch of different things. I feel like her wardrobe was cool and understated, but still comfortable.”
In her new role, Abby suits up in feminine pieces, a contrast from her Gladiator days.
“We have not seen Abby in a pair of pants ever since she’s been Press Secretary, and before when she was behind-the-scenes we never saw her once in a dress,” she says. “Maybe once when she was dating David Rosen, but rarely. So now she does separates, but there’s a lot more femininity. Her style is more polished.”
Abby’s hair is also always blown out, as the Twitterverse love to point out every Thursday night.
“She has a camera-ready hair do at any time — that very polished TV reporter hair — you know politicians have it and TV reporters have it. We really nailed that for Abby. We really keep her in that world, knowing she’s going to be on podium at any minute.”
And while she doesn’t work for Olivia anymore, Abby would totally steal from her closet.
“Those fantastic Prada bags,” Stanchfield says. “She’d get found out right away, because who else carries Prada around D.C. but Olivia Pope.”
Catch the actress’s bold new looks on the new episode of Scandal, Thursday at 9 p.m. What do you think of her evolving style? Do you prefer Press Secretary Abby? Sound off below.
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