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IMAGE: "Apprentice" cast
So many advanced degrees, so much bad, bad fashion.
msnbc.com contributor
updated 9/16/2004 4:13:17 PM ET 2004-09-16T20:13:17

Donald Trump likes to tell us that the contestants on his reality game show “The Apprentice” are superlative: graduates of the best schools, the most-driven, the most ambitious, possessing the finest analytical and creative minds around. The only superlative he doesn’t usually ascribe to them is the one that’s easiest for the viewer to detect: they’re the worst dressers on TV.

Okay, not quite the worst — not as long as Paris Hilton still has a series, anyway. But considering that we’re supposed to think the Apprentices have distinguished themselves in the business world before coming on the show, it’s amazing how few of them seem able to dress themselves appropriately in a professional setting, and look instead as though teenybopper store Forever 21 threw up on them.

For her first day on the show, Elizabeth chose a very short bone-colored skirt and a hot pink halter top, which she has failed to cover with a coat, jacket, sweater, shrug, shawl, or even those arm warmers all the kids are wearing. No, it’s just acres and acres of shoulder. Oh, and thick, dark brown eyebrows that do not match the fake blonde hair on the rest of her head.

Stacie J. is apparently a model as well as the owner of a Subway franchise. Perhaps she borrowed her incredibly short black-and-grey-striped pleated skirt from a runway show? And perhaps she paired it with a non-matching low-cut brown top because she’s used to having minions dress her backstage? At any rate, the editors make sure we see, when she gets up to leave after the group’s initial meeting with The Donald, that the hem of Stacie’s skirt skims the top of the table. Granted, she’s tall. Regardless: that’s showing too much leg. Also? I seem to recall from last season that there’s a spa in Trump Tower. She should go there, very soon, for a hot-oil treatment and a trim.

Sandy. Honey. According to your bio, you have no post-secondary education. And that’s fine. College is not for everyone. But you’re not doing any favors to the image of self-made entrepreneurs across the country by showing up for your first day in a diagonally-striped tube dress Tara Reid wouldn’t be caught passed out in.

Stacy R. bucks the skank trend by wearing a very stylish and sensible pink-checked tweed suit, with a demure strand of pearls and almost no make-up. Consequently, she is just about the youngest-looking 26-year-old I have ever seen. Seriously, everyone in my household immediately started calling her “Half-Pint” and speculating as to whether it was “Take Your Daughter To Work” Day. She’s a very attractive woman, and we give her credit for wearing appropriate business attire; however, a 26-year-old professional should be concerned with finding an outfit that goes from day to night, not one that goes from lunch at the Plaza to visiting one’s friend Bev at Cedars-Sinai after her bursitis treatment. (She’s dressed like an old lady, is my point.)

One word: Accessories!
The other women look, by and large, fine. Maria’s choice of a chartreuse trenchcoat might be questionable had she not wisely paired it with a simple black dress and strappy heels, which tone it down nicely. There is, however, no excusing the denim motocross jacket she rocks in her interview segments.

Ivana was dressed with subdued flair — nothing too reckless — in a black blazer, white pants, and a patterned top. In the opening montage, it looked as though some part of her bare midriff might threaten to make an unscheduled appearance on the air, but the blazer did its duty and kept her flesh hidden from view.

Jennifer C. appears to have taken the “sexy secretary” trend a little too far, in a prim yet slinky ’50s-influenced ensemble of immaculate updo, dark red lipstick, a black pencil skirt, and a sleeveless pink cowl-necked sweater. I don’t entirely support her decision to cover her bare arms by draping a black cardigan over her shoulders, but hell, it’s more than Elizabeth Halterson and Sandy McTubeDress did.

Rounding out the season’s complement of women are Pamela and Jennifer M., both in neutral-toned pantsuits and dry-looking blonde dye jobs. Yawn. It is possible to dress well for the office without boring the crap out of everyone who has to look at you. One word: accessories!

Here's the thing about bow ties

IMAGE: Apprentice
Unless a man is in formalwear, or in the past, he has no excuse for wearing a bow tie. Got that, Raj?
And then … Raj. Here’s the thing about bow ties: unless a man is in formalwear, or in the past, he has no reason to wear a bow tie except to use said bow tie to make a statement about himself, and the statement he is making is always “I am the kind of man who wears a bow tie. Please think of me from now on as Bow Tie Guy.”

I have no problem with men putting some thought into their clothes, instead of just showing up everywhere in an unimaginative blue shirt and navy suit. But it is possible to go too far in the opposite direction, too, and when you do, you end up looking like Raj.

When we first see him on the show, he’s in the damn bow tie (obviously), a dark jacket, striped shirt, bright red pants, and black and white spectator shoes. (When I Googled that phrase to make sure that’s actually what they’re called, the first site that came up was ZootSuitStore.com. Raj, if you're reading this, that’s how you should know you’ve made a wrong turn in life.)

He’s trying too hard to look like he’s not trying — like style comes naturally to him, which it plainly doesn’t, because if it did, his bright red pants wouldn’t be pleated. Oh, and Trump wouldn’t have asked him, the next day, what was with the cane. Because seriously. What was with the cane? Hey, Raj, Bertie Wooster called: he wants his steamer trunks back. But not the red pants. You can keep those.

In the coming weeks, the Apprentices will be working hard to prove to Donald Trump that they deserve employment in his vast organization. Some of them will have to work equally hard to prove to the viewers that they do, in fact, own mirrors.

Tara Ariano co-created and co-edits Fametracker.com and TelevisionWithoutPity.com

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