King Lear wondered about “who’s in, who’s out”—and fashion has been a drama ever since. Each year, for instance, the best-dressed lists are overladen with obscure tycoons and socialites. But what about those flashy figures in showbiz, politics and the arts who really influence what millions wear? This fall PEOPLE again proposes its nominees for Best (and Worst) Dressed—with expert second opinions from designers Bill Blass, Michaele Vollbracht, Betsey Johnson and Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo, model agency head Eileen Ford and columnist Suzy Knickerbocker. Their conclusion? Chacun à son goût, an old French expression which roughly translates “I may hate your threads but will defend to the death your right to wear them.”
“Provocative” is the label Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo pins on her off-camera style, but Dallas‘ Linda Gray insists she is hardly “the beads-and-cleavage type.” Not that the stylish actress who portrays J.R. Ewing’s frazzled wife, Sue Ellen, sees herself as a fading yellow rose. “I like to take risks,” she explains. That means mixing subdued pieces from different designers (Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Krizia and Chloé are her favorites) and adding her own accessories. Gray, 40, credits her devotion to clothes to her years in Catholic school in L.A., where she wore only uniforms. The actress applies her fashion sense to Sue Ellen’s wardrobe too. “She’s a rich lady and we have to make her look rich. I go for simple,” she explains. “That’s the best way to look like you’ve got money.”
Magnum, P.I.‘s 6’4″ star Tom Selleck, says Suzy Knickerbocker, “looks like a model-turned-TV star”—exactly what he is, of course. Selleck, clearly prime time’s most macho clotheshorse since Burt Reynolds played Dan August, appreciates quality. He wears lots of Ralph Lauren and sport shirts by Lacoste. Selleck liked trendy aloha shirts long before his Hawaiian-based series premiered last fall, but he favors pastels (pink and peach) for sweaters and plaids for custom-made shirts. Yet TV’s newest hunk would rather keep his chemise on than go bare-chested. He refuses to strip to a swimsuit for photographers unless the script demands it. He cringed when the 6,000-member Man Watchers, Inc. named him one of the 10 most watch-able males. “I’m 36,” sighs Selleck, “no teenager.”
In Washington, it’s not what you wear that counts; it’s where you wear it. So, even if First Lady Nancy Reagan has a domestic edge, not far behind is 45-year-old Elizabeth “Liddy” Dole, special assistant to the President and wife of Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. Liddy, Duke University’s May Queen in 1958, is widely considered the leader of the Reagan Administration’s soignée set—even if her hectic schedule often means hasty costume changes at her White House office or even switching skirts in airplane lavatories. For work, her taste runs to size 8 or 10 tailored suits, often in bright colors (“good for the morale”). Unlike most high-powered working women, Dole has little use for pants. “You don’t have to dress in a masculine way,” she insists, “to be taken seriously in your work.”
Secretary of State Alexander Haig points out, “In diplomacy you have to be conservative, very crisp and well turned out.” By that exacting standard, the former NATO Commander rates four gold stars for stylishness. Haig, age 56 and size 42 regular, owns two dozen winter and summer suits and two tuxedos. He does most of his shopping without his wife, Pat, at Jos. Bank’s clothing store in Washington, a sort of discount Brooks Brothers. “Those military people always wear clothes well,” says Nina Blanchard, founder of a Los Angeles talent agency. “They have such good posture.” Blass admires Haig’s “perfect American style, and those marvelous polished shoes.” Maybe, but as soon as Haig gets home he slips on the Hush Puppies he bought for $13 at the PX in Paris.
At 26, Chris Evert Lloyd no longer drapes herself in the ruffles and ribbons she favored as a teenager—even if her 1979 wedding gown did have 30 yards of Chantilly lace and 2,000 seed pearls. She now embellishes her tennis whites with a single diamond necklace. She buys “gold and shimmery evening wear,” often from St. Laurent, and streaks her hair four times a year “because it’s a mousy brown.” Still, Vollbracht feels Evert “looks sexier in tennis clothes. She’s showing off her body.”
When Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield, 29, baseball’s highest-paid player, ($1.5 million a year) is off the field, he still suits up in pinstripes. For business, Winfield owns 20 Wall Street-smart suits; for pleasure, snappy coats of mink, coyote and sheared beaver. “He is terrific—an assured dresser,” exults Blass.
Rockers are meant to be shockers
Mohawk-coiffed Wendy O. Williams (W.O.W.), 30, lead singer of New Wave’s Plasmatics, actually began her career undressed—as a performer in live sex shows on New York’s scrofulous 42nd Street. She’s tidied up her image some since then. When performing, Williams tapes her exposed breasts (while complaining, “Men show their nipples, why can’t we?”), slathers her body with shaving cream (“It feels good and cold”), and suggestively fondles the microphone. (She has already beat one obscenity onstage rap in Cleveland, and similar charges are pending in Milwaukee.) Shrugs Williams: “I’m a parody on censorship.” Even offstage, she dresses for gasps in torn T-shirts and red-and-black Spandex pants. Her favorite article of jewelry: a choke-chain dog collar. “Wendy is on the razor’s edge in fashion,” understates Betsey Johnson, the only panelist to condone her look. “She sees how far she can go on the Richter scale of risk.”
By comparison, 29-year-old Tom Petty of the Heartbreakers is almost tame, dressed down in tattered T-shirts, jeans, sneakers and leather motorcycle gear, all purchased at secondhand stores. Theorizes designer Johnson of the wiry blond-haired, blue-eyed singer-writer: “His hard edges remind me of Jagger and Bowie—just how a rock star should look.”
Preppy power at the movies
With Superman I and II tucked under his polyester cape (it gave him a rash) and a $3 million deal for III coming up, Chris Reeve can afford to leave more than his horn-rim glasses in the phone booth. But Reeve, 29 next week, has changed his off-screen preppy look little since his Ivy League days at Cornell. “He still wears old jeans with a pullover sweater and blazer,” observes Superman scriptwriter David Newman of Reeve’s wardrobe. With reason. Says Bill Blass, “He’s simply a superb looking animal.”
Karen Allen, also 29, portrays a scruffy bar manager in the summer’s smash Raiders of the Lost Ark. But away from a sound stage, in baggy pants, bulky sweaters and floppy hats, she looks like a hybrid of Annie Hall and the coed she played three years ago in her first major film, National Lampoon’s Animal House. Vollbracht praises Allen as nothing less than “sexy and terrific—the contemporary ideal of wearable fashion.”
Scions of the times
Christie Hefner’s fashion philosophy boils down to “less is more,” which is appropriate for the 28-year-old eldest offspring of Playboy baron Hugh Hefner—herself a corporate vice-president of Playboy Enterprises. She’s not for under-dressing that way, though: She means she likes “classically tailored fashions rather than ruffled. It’s not right to dress seductively at the office,” she says, “but I don’t agree women have to be buttoned-up to the collar.” Hefner, who spends about $4,000 a year on her wardrobe, claims that she rarely checks labels and buys almost everything ready-to-wear. But that doesn’t keep the 5’7″, size 6 from splurging on such evening dress-ups as a $1,000 black-and-white, ankle-length gown by Chloé that she describes as “stunning but understated.”
And then there is John F. Kennedy Jr., 20, a junior at Brown who goes Hefner one better in the pursuit of fashion’s middle distance. He is the preppy’s preppy, sporting the Ivy League costume of chinos and shirt (often with tails out), Shetland sweaters, loafers—and no polyester. “His style is incredible,” says Vollbracht, meaning good. Ford demurs. “He’s a good-looking kid,” she admits, “but he’s sloppy.”
Playing the Palace
Only a year ago when just a Lady, Diana Spencer was spotted wearing a wrinkled blouse and summer skirt without a slip. Ghastly. Now the 20-year-old Princess of Wales has shed her girlish frocks and roommates’ sweatshirts, grown her hair a bit and learned about eye makeup to emerge as the niftiest-looking member of the dowdy House of Windsor. Not since the late Edward VIII was spotted during the 1920s wearing a pullover under his dinner jacket has a British royal exerted such a powerful fashion influence. Soon after she went topside during the honeymoon cruise aboard the Britannia in long khaki-colored culottes, the shorts became a hot item all over London. Even Diana’s flat shoes (that keep her a discreet inch below Prince Charles) enjoyed a boost in sales. “She offers some hope for the royal family,” says Blass.
King Juan Carlos of Spain, who didn’t show at St. Paul’s because of the honeymooning couple’s decision to pass through Gibraltar, would have outclassed them all. “He is terrific,” gushes Michaele Vollbracht. “He has got Gary Cooper’s long legs.” Though his wardrobe runs mostly to dark suits from a local tailor, Juan Carlos, 43, was seen skiing in the Pyrenees last winter with a dashing red silk scarf around his neck. “Every once in a while,” he explained, “I like to wear something crazy.”
Notwithstanding his reported $1 million annual take for co-anchoring the NBC Nightly News next spring, Tom Brokaw won’t likely be leaving the No-Nonsense category soon. Blazers and pinstripe shirts have been his uniform as co-host of Today for the last five years. To be sure, the competition is stiff, including CBS’ Dapper Dan Rather (last year’s winner in this category) and ABC’s natty triumvirate, Frank Reynolds, Max Robinson and Peter Jennings. But Brokaw, 41, wins for what Suzy calls his “button-down charm.”
Among TV newswomen, Jane Pauley, 30 (below, with Robert Redford), gets the nod—less for her wardrobe than her promise. The wife of cartoonist Garry Trudeau says she “hates shopping a whole lot—though the mindlessness of it can be therapeutic.” By day she is all Midwestern credibility in lacy blouses and vivid colors that show up well on TV. (“She looks like she dresses at Sears,” sniffs Ford.) But by night another Jane comes out in $500-plus Adolfos (size 6). “She has spirit,” says Vollbracht, “which makes her sexy—and she has a great chance to discover clothes.”
Classics of song and dance
Few divas have mastered the art of forgivable overdressing as well as Leontyne Price. The 54-year-old soprano from Laurel, Miss, enjoys spending a small fortune on gowns in chiffon and jersey custom-made by her personal designer, Chuck Howard. The bejeweled Price, dubbed by Vollbracht “the Elizabeth Taylor of opera,” is also famous for her minks and chinchillas.
On the uptown end of the clothesline, New York City Ballet star Peter Martins, 34, turns heads with an eclectic boutique wardrobe featuring open-collared shirts, Valentino’s sportcoats, blue jeans, white Adidas sneakers, cowboy boots—or any combination of the above. Notes Blass, carefully: “Martins obviously wears what amuses him. He’s a young man very sure of his taste.”
Stars of social Washington
The store isn’t in the family anymore, but no matter: Betsy Bloomingdale, 57, is hardly what you’d call an off-the-rack customer anyway. Who else would have showed up for the Royal Wedding in a tiara? Considered the fashion equal of her closest chum, First Lady Nancy Reagan, Betsy explains, “Clothes are so expensive that I believe in dressing up at night and spending very little for day.” Conveniently, she can putter around in one of 40 housecoats (mostly floral patterns retailing for under $45) that she designs for the Swirl label. When the sun goes down, Betsy (thanks to husband Alfred’s Diners Club fortune) turns up in strapless gowns and frilly creations by Dior’s Marc Bohan. One recently cost her $5,000, but she considers them as investments. “I expect to wear everything for at least 10 years,” she says.
Bachelor Jerry Zipkin, 67, (left, with Bloomingdale) is the “other man” in Nancy Reagan’s social life, often escorting her when the President is engaged. “He is not afraid to wear beautiful emerald cuff links and jackets with silk linings that make you jump back a couple of feet,” says Suzy admiringly. Zipkin, a real estate heir, once had all his clothes made in England, but for the past 30 years has gone to Manhattan’s Persall Tailors for 40 custom-made suits, mostly black and gray. He is fanatical about ties, all from London’s Turnbull & Asser, which he protects from dribbles of red wine by folding his lapels over during meals. Says Blass: “Zip is adorable—in a class by himself.”
Riding the Nude Wave
Best and worst aside, the undressed champ of the year is of course big, beautiful, busty Bo. Legend—or is it the flack?—holds that Derek’s husband, John, sat down at his industrial sewing machine, a gift from the missus, and stitched together the scanty getup she wears as Jane in promotion stills for Tarzan, the Ape Man. He carefully made sure that enough of Bo peeps through to divert attention from the dismal movie. Off-camera, Mrs. Derek’s taste runs to tweed jackets, silk blouses and pants, but her regimen of weight lifting has made it rather hard for her to find clothes that fit (she is size 12 on top, size 6 on the bottom). Bo sure has a lot of problems. “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t,” she pouts. “If people see me naked they complain. If other people don’t see me naked, they complain. I simply can’t win.”
Miles O’Keeffe, the 27-year-old actor who plays the title role, wore another of John Derek’s creations, a kind of chamois jockstrap. During six weeks of filming in the Seychelle Islands and Sri Lanka, O’Keeffe managed to get by with just two loincloths, which he rinsed out and hung dripping in the shower every night. It was no fun. “The chamois was cold and clammy and it never dried out,” he gripes. In Malibu, where the 6’3″, 200-lb. O’Keeffe is currently living, he likes to run barefoot along the beach in rugby shorts or boxing trunks—he dislikes French-cut men’s bikinis—and he is partial to t-shirts in black. O’Keeffe, who has been body building since he was 14, says he won’t take it all off for just any film: “I have some integrity about this.” That’s okay—his audience has seen enough. Says Blass: “What they are wearing has absolutely nothing to do with fashion, but he and Bo are perfectly beautiful specimens.”