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Style 101 for the LPGA

NEW YORK — It took only three words to elicit gasps and groans from a roomful of pro golfers Tuesday.<br><br>"Lose the belt," was not what 75 women long accustomed to wearing sherbet-colored Bermuda shorts with big belts wanted to hear. Bellowed...

NEW YORK — It took only three words to elicit gasps and groans from a roomful of pro golfers Tuesday.

“Lose the belt,” was not what 75 women long accustomed to wearing sherbet-colored Bermuda shorts with big belts wanted to hear. Bellowed by hair stylist John Barrett, someone better known for clipping the tresses of red carpet actresses than fairway-bound women, that command was the hole-in-one during a Ladies Professional Golf Association-sponsored, two-hour panel discussion about the importance of appearance and the power to attract.

All too familiar with how the Women’s Tennis Association has transformed its tour into one where the athletes are concerned about their looks, as well as their rankings, the LPGA is trying to steer players in that direction. The program is part of a five-year plan and “five-points-of-celebrity” platform to make the players and the LPGA more marketable. The forum was held during the Sybase Big Apple Classic at the Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y.

LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw told WWD after the forum, “the argument could be there is too much of an emphasis on appearance in our society. If appearance does matter in society, and it does, the tour should reflect that as well.”

Barrett wasn’t the only one who wasn’t holding back. Maybe it was all the ill-fitting outfits, buttoned-up polo shirts laden with logos or the baseball caps adorned with sunglasses. Whatever it was, the other panelists — Vera Wang, cosmetics maven Trish McEvoy and In Style’s Hal Rubenstein — were equally critical of the golfers.

Within minutes, the forum looked more like an “Oprah” makeover than a marketing pow-wow, with pros reluctantly shuffling to the front of the room to get the once-over from Barrett & Co. The few who were picked for their stylishness were greeted with, “But she showered!” from the crowd.

In addition to the belt credo, other marching orders included:

Ditch the argyles in favor of contrasting solids, as worn by Tiger Woods.

Go with flat-front shorts or pants.

Say good-bye to scrunchies.

Find a dressmaker to take in those baggy polo shirts.

Wear collarless or V-neck shirts if rules allow.

Go easy on the jewelry.

Remove the baseball cap before interviews.

Wang noted how Olympic skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan became more confident after she worked with them. In addition to giving a detailed account of the benefits of hair straightening, Wang, a dedicated golfer, recommended paring down looks wherever possible.

Barrett wasn’t all about hair, but he couldn’t resist dropping a few gems about his forte, such as, “Whoever cut your bangs should have their scissors impounded,” and “If your hairstyle walks in the room before you do, you’re in trouble.”

McEvoy urged players to look at photos and videotapes with a critical eye, and cast away any unseemly attire.

“There’s a huge difference in the way Jennifer Capriati, the Williams sisters and Martina Hingis dress than they did three years ago. If you don’t think Anna Kournikova had anything to do with that, you’re crazy,” Rubenstein said. “How you dress is very important. You need to present a clean, clear image. If people can spot you on the fairways, they will know you, they will cheer for you and you will make more money.”

Attendees were more than willing to learn more, with many lining up after the forum to ask panelists specific questions about their appearances. Several said they had no reservations about attending an event that might smack some as sexist.

Annika Sorenstam said, “I didn’t know what to expect. I was open-minded and got some ideas. If you look at the TV, that’s what other people see and not necessarily what you feel. That’s not something I’d thought of.”

Rookie Stephanie Keever, an Adidas-sponsored athlete who now plans to go to beltless and collarless, said, “I thought it was awesome…that people of their caliber would take the time to talk to us.”

Nancy Scranton, an Izod Club endorsee, and Lorie Kane, a Resort II endorsee, plan to brainstorm with their respective sponsors about developing more flattering silhouettes, said Alex Messore, their IMG rep. Scranton was eager to spell out her requests Tuesday night with Izod executives, and Kane told Messore, “We have to go to Seattle,” referring to Resort II’s corporate headquarters.

Wear collarless or V-neck shirts if rules allow.

Go easy on the jewelry.

Remove the baseball cap before interviews.

Wang noted how Olympic skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan became more confident after she worked with them. In addition to giving a detailed account of the benefits of hair straightening, Wang, a dedicated golfer, recommended paring down looks wherever possible.

Barrett wasn’t all about hair, but he couldn’t resist dropping a few gems about his forte, such as, “Whoever cut your bangs should have their scissors impounded,” and “If your hairstyle walks in the room before you do, you’re in trouble.”

McEvoy urged players to look at photos and videotapes with a critical eye, and cast away any unseemly attire.

“There’s a huge difference in the way Jennifer Capriati, the Williams sisters and Martina Hingis dress than they did three years ago. If you don’t think Anna Kournikova had anything to do with that, you’re crazy,” Rubenstein said. “How you dress is very important. You need to present a clean, clear image. If people can spot you on the fairways, they will know you, they will cheer for you and you will make more money.”

Attendees were more than willing to learn more, with many lining up after the forum to ask panelists specific questions about their appearances. Several said they had no reservations about attending an event that might smack some as sexist.

Annika Sorenstam said, “I didn’t know what to expect. I was open-minded and got some ideas. If you look at the TV, that’s what other people see and not necessarily what you feel. That’s not something I’d thought of.”

Rookie Stephanie Keever, an Adidas-sponsored athlete who now plans to go to beltless and collarless, said, “I thought it was awesome…that people of their caliber would take the time to talk to us.”

Nancy Scranton, an Izod Club endorsee, and Lorie Kane, a Resort II endorsee, plan to brainstorm with their respective sponsors about developing more flattering silhouettes, said Alex Messore, their IMG rep. Scranton was eager to spell out her requests Tuesday night with Izod executives, and Kane told Messore, “We have to go to Seattle,” referring to Resort II’s corporate headquarters.