At the Screen Actors Guild awards this weekend, actress Susan Sarandon’s white, double-breasted, Max Mara suit unbuttoned to reveal her black bra and deep cleavage ended up being more newsworthy to some than the awards themselves. More than Leonardo DiCaprio’s win for best actor or Carol Burnett’s SAG Life Achievement Award, people were talking the 69-year-old, Oscar-winning actress’s wardrobe flop.
From mean spirited comments, to posts from feminists and those who appreciated a senior unencumbered by what others may consider “taboo,” entertainment websites and social media were a’twitter.
To be fair, discussions of appropriate attire weren’t relegated to Ms. Sarandon. Modern Family star Ariel Winter’s found herself in the days that followed defending her strapless gown that revealed scars from breast reduction surgery last summer.
Let’s keep this in perspective. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Cher, Madonna, and Janet Jackson – she of the original “wardrobe malfunction” – have revealed far more.
From a media relations point of view, Ms. Sarandon was on to something. This wasn’t some cavalier, right-off-the-rack selection. Some believe she knew she was going a button or two too far. Her choice was intended to get tongues and social media wagging. Such backlash and support alike would open conversation.
Days later, she’s all over the web for reasons other than the nomination for her role in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.
That said, not everyone from just any industry can pull this off. If an attorney or Realtor or business owner showed up at a corporate event clad as Ms. Sarandon was, opinions could sour and reputations could be tarnished. Show business, though, is a different beast.
So, don’t cry for Ms. Sarandon. After all, in some P.R. circles, one maxim holds true: “There’s no such thing as bad P.R. Just spell my name right.”
As one follower wrote, “Negative publicity is better than no publicity and usually travels faster.”

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