Empire’s Cookie Lyon is known for many things, her spicy attitude, her razor sharp one-liners, and her killer business smarts, but when it comes to fashion she’s in a lane of her own. The man behind Cookie’s evolving style, Empire costume designer Paolo Nieddu spoke exclusively with ESSENCE.com on how to be a diva on a dime, Cookie’s style motto and what we can expect for the rest of the season. Also, click here to see him talk about his 7 favorite looks.

On dressing on a tight budget: “When you’re budget dressing you don’t need to spend $550 on a pair of black jeans. Go to Topshop, get those, and put your money on the blazer. You’ve got to know where to spend it.”

On who inspires Cookie’s looks: “We’ve definitely gone for Dynasty, whether it be Alexis Carrington or Diane Carroll, Dominique Deveraux inspired. She’s a little bit more Alexis, I would say.”

On Taraji P. Henson: “She can wear clothes so well and she can handle them. The best thing about her is the clothes don’t wear her.”

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On Cookie’s style M.O.: “They always say when you’re going out the door to take one thing off, I think she puts another thing on.”

On what we can expect this season: “We will definitely continue to see her experiment and play with color and play with print. Now, we’re getting into fall, so we’re going to be hitting you guys with coats.”

Take a look at the gallery now for more behind-the-style moments with costume designer Paolo Nieddu!