By People Staff
Updated October 25, 1993 12:00 PM

STYLE STRENGTH: Chic with cheekiness

PHILOSOPHY: “If a power suit screams ‘loan Crawford,’ then buy it”

Joan Rivers can talk and Joan Rivers can shop and Joan Rivers can really talk about shopping. Perched on an 18th-century settee in her Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan, she declaims that Valentino “makes a super garment,” Azzedine Alaia “is great…like wearing a girdle,” the men’s look is a bust, the romantic look a boon: “The shoulders should be bared, the boobs should show as much as they can. Oh, absolutely!”

Sexy and stylish at 60, Rivers is still going for it. Though she quips that “glamor has no alarm clock,” her timing is as impeccable in matters of dress as in comedy. She has mastered the art of keeping current without turning trendy. She may put herself down (“I’m between a size 2 and a 4, but my hips could feed the Russian army”), but she clearly knows what to put on—”bell-bottoms…they make the hips look very thin” and “the mini, because my legs are good, and I know the third time it comes around, I’ll be dead”—and what to avoid—”anything mid-calf length, which cuts every woman’s legs at their fattest.” Rivers has been dressing a tad racier, she admits, since her husband Edgar Rosenberg’s suicide in 1987. “He truly liked me very conservative,” she says. Now single and dating, she’s “wearing a lot of dominatrix shoes” and spending more on clothes than she did in 1969, when she bought her first serious dress, a $750 fuchsia Oscar de la Renta for The Ed Sullivan Show. But she says she’s still “careful,” refusing to buy couture, accepting clothes on loan from designers and heeding her late mother’s maxim to “remake, remake, remake.” (She has just had a Pauline Trigère ball gown done over for the fourth time.) But daughter Melissa, 25, periodically purges her mother’s closets: “Last time, she went through my jeans and said, ‘Gloria Vanderbilt? You’ve got to be kidding!’ ”

The outfits Rivers dons for her syndicated talk show, though, are of the moment. Barneys New York supplies the clothes, stylist David Dangle helps pull them all together, and her staff is trained, says the host, to exclaim, “Oh, Miss Rivers, you look even better than the last time, if it’s possible.” Rivers’s fall purchases have been few but fabulous: a high-collar JU Sander suit; a faux-lamb hat from Ralph Lauren; a cut-velvet dress from newcomer Pamela Dennis and, from Chanel, suede lace-up boots. Along with these to-die-for garments and items from her own clothing and jewelry lines that she sells on QVC, Rivers’s wardrobe includes a few clunkers. “I will buy,” she confesses, “any thing if you tell me I look thin in it. Anything. Say, ‘Boy, you look thin in that really ugly, khaki-print dress, and I say, ‘Sold!’ ”