Dressing for Acquittal

updated 05/21/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/21/1984 01:00AM

If convicted of cocaine-trafficking charges, John De Lorean will have lots of time to rethink the critical questions that led to the verdict: Was it me? Was it my lawyer? Or was it Cristina's leopard-print coat?

While De Lorean, 59, and his lawyers grapple with the complexities of his trial, now in its fourth week, Cristina, 34, faces a clothes encounter of her own: how to dress to impress the six-man, six-woman jury. Yes, where does a beautiful fashion model find the perfect courtroom outfit—something tame enough for church, but racy enough for a Tupperware party? To help Cristina out of her fashion fix, PEOPLE asked some famous trial lawyers for some Dos and Don'ts of dressing for distress. So far they give her good marks, but for heaven's sake, Cristina, keep that dress pulled over your knees!

Okay, so maybe it is all a bit calculating. But as Philadelphia lawyer A. Charles Peruto notes, "There's more power in the expression of a woman than in all the words of the lawyers." Simply put, the lawyers advise that under-dressed is better than overdressed (undressed is inexcusable), dark colors are better than light, dresses are better than pants and anything is better than polyester.

De Lorean's attorney, Howard Weitzman, insists he did not tell Cristina what to wear. "I told her, 'Dress the way you feel most comfortable,' " he says. But nobody really believes him. It's no secret that Cristina's pal Albert Capraro designed an 18-piece trial wardrobe for her. (Why only 18 when the trial is expected to last for at least six more weeks? Well, unlike the Beverly Hills party circuit, it's okay to wear the same dress twice to court.) Observes Harvard Law School Professor Arthur Miller: "I can't imagine that a lawyer in a high-stakes poker game like the De Lorean trial wouldn't have done an exhaustive study" of jurors' preferences.

Nobody knows for certain what—if any—impact Cristina's wardrobe will have on the jury. Houston lawyer Richard "Racehorse" Haynes says, "It would be a shame for a man to lose a life of liberty because of the way his wife dressed during the trial." Still, all agree Cristina's looks can't hurt her husband's cause. Notes Peruto: "Out of six women, you're going to find one who is sympathetic to the family, and out of six men, you'll find at least one who's horny."

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