September 18, 2000 12:00 PM

WHAT DO YOU GET when you ask five strangers to look at more than 200 photos of some 30 celebrities and then offer an opinion? Surprisingly, a consensus: Getting dressed is fun, but it’s not always easy. Not for the stars–and not for our judges themselves. Indeed, while we were busy crunching numbers–the top 10 candidates made our best-dressed list, the bottom 10 our worst-dressed list, and those left in the middle were eliminated–our panelists reflected on their own styles. And they realized that now and then, bad clothes happen to even really good dressers. Take it from Israeli-born designer Elie Tahari, 48, whose line of women’s career wear has earned him the nickname King of the Jacket. “I don’t think I was born with a sense of style,” he says. “It takes practice.” Plus-size model and actress Mia Tyler, 21–half sister to actress Liv Tyler–has spent a lifetime looking at the rock-star wardrobe of her father, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler. Does that make her oops-proof? Hardly, she admits. “My dad and I share a problem with matching.” Quadruple-platinum-selling singer Sisqé, 24, likes to stick out in a crowd. His personal statement, he says, “is ‘Look at me.'” Sure, he slips up sometimes, he confesses, “but you won’t see me make a fashion mistake twice.” Designer Dana Buchman, 48, likes “luxurious and timeless clothes,” but isn’t above dabbling in trends–such as her cherished jaguar-print stretch velveteen jeans. But Ben Stein–the 55-year-old presidential speechwriter turned Emmy-award-winning host of Win Ben Stein’s Money on Comedy Central–wouldn’t be caught dead in velvet. Anymore. “I did wear a blue-velvet suit once,” he says. “I was trying to be hip, but it was a very big mistake.” And so he discovered the source of real style. “I dress like what I am,” says the conservatively clad Stein, “and I never want to change.”

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