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Embattled Celebrities Get Dressed For Arrest

Embattled celebrities get dressed for arrestBy LIZ EMBRY
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

The celebrity perp walk. Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Jeffrey Skilling and, now, Calvin Murphy. Game-faced lawyers, confident strides and, oh, those outfits.

Domestic diva Stewart toted a $14,000 handbag into the courtroom; Winona Ryder, accused of shoplifting high-end ready-to-wear, sported designer Marc Jacobs throughout her trial. And Michael Jackson wore one of his flashy military-inspired suits to turn himself over to the authorities in a molestation case.

When bold-faced names run the media gantlet to make a court date, there’s bound to be a joke about the fashion police.

Take former Houston Rocket star Murphy, who wore a baggy, double-breasted, light-colored suit when he surrendered at a Harris County jail Monday. He was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and three counts of indecency with a child.

Murphy’s ensemble might say GQ, but it doesn’t invoke trust, says Helen Perry, a Houston image consultant.

Houston lawyer David Berg was even more harsh in his assessment of Murphy’s look: “He looked like he was selling ice cream or more like an ice cream cone himself.”

Celebrities — and the common folk — should abide by the “less is more” fashion mantra when headed for the courthouse, says Perry, reminding “Everything we wear sends a message.”

Choose conservative, classic styles over the trendy, Perry says. Go easy on the accessories and lose the power tie, which can appear ego-driven. And a monochromatic look will keep the focus on the face rather than the clothes.

Color is strategic. Don’t go with orange — that reads prison uniform. White reads reliable and innocent, but only for nurses and ministers. Blue is the safest bet since it is associated with classic style and dependability.

The best look of all: a blue-gray suit.

Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of The Color Answer Book ($30, Capital), says blue-gray combos provide a double whammy of good will. The combination meshes the trustworthiness associated with blue with gray, a shade that brings to mind a straight-arrow sensibility, Eiseman says.Chronicle reporter Robert Lopez contributed to this report.

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