September 18, 2000 12:00 PM

NOT TOO MANY Cheers from the judges for Bebe Neuwirth. Although they respect the actress’s diverse performances–from a humorless, uptight shrink on TV’s long-running sitcom to the spirited, seductive star of Broadway’s Chicago–they point out that what makes for an award-winning career does not add up to an award-winning outfit. Says singer Sisq–: “She’s trying to send our minds into a frenzy by wearing too many things at once.” Model Mia Tyler is equally taken aback by Neuwirth’s penchant for mixing velvet, leather, leopard-print and lace: “She’s too old to be dressing this way.” Indeed, at 41 the 5’4″ Neuwirth is “trying to be too hip,” says quiz show host Ben Stein. So what if all those hours in studio lots and rehearsal halls leave little time to hit the stores? “Human beings have been around a long time,” says Stein. “She should know about clothes already.” Advises designer Elie Tahari: “Go shopping!”

If Neuwirth was hoping to appear with-it at the Liberty Heights premiere in Manhattan last November, she missed big, say our judges. “I don’t like the frizzy things around her bare midriff,” says Ben Stein. “Too many materials,” adds Elie Tahari. Declares Sisqé: “The skirt isn’t right, the shirt isn’t right. This is just wrong.” Very wrong, agrees Mia Tyler. “The fringe is bad, the white shoes are bad–you can’t wear white shoes with black!”

According to our judges, Neuwirth’s labors were lost at the New York City premiere of Love’s Labour’s Lost in June, where she again paired a black leather skirt with white boots. “See-through with the leather and the shirt over it–and those white boots?” questions Mia Tyler. “And what’s on her shoulders? A book bag? With blue straps?” Elie Tahari feels that the “bad combination” could have been saved if “she had worn pants and changed the boots.” Especially those boots, declares Sisqé. “She’s like, ‘I’m matching the lining of my coat with my shoes. Get it?'” he says. “No! I’m sorry, I don’t!”

She may be smiling, but our judges sure aren’t. Exclaims Sisqé of the getup Neuwirth had on at the Manhattan premiere of Magnolia late last fall: “She’s saying, ‘let’s just mix it up today!'” Bad impulse, says Mia Tyler: “The pants would be cute on their own. But leopard-print boots don’t go with Asian-style pants.” As Elie Tahari puts it, “She looks like a motorcycle rider going to an elegant evening event. The outfit’s an oxymoron.”

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