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Fashion plates: Restaurant hostess style

Kerry Wahler, 28, says she learned about looking

Kerry Wahler, 28, says she learned about looking great every day when she attended culinary school in Italy, where the women are beautifully dressed. She works as a hostess at Toku in Manhasset, NY. Photo Credit: Newsday/Bruce Gilbert

You know the old saying about making a good first impression, right? Well it certainly holds true in the restaurant biz. And while we love the suave maitre d' who greets us at the door with "ciao, bella," and a kiss on each cheek, well, there's something about a beautiful young woman, and restaurateurs know it.

"The hostess is the first line of defense," says Brian Rosenberg, who owns a restaurant marketing company. "She sets the entire tone of your visit and pulls the trigger on getting your experience off to a good start."

Some hostesses do designer, others do discount, some go for dressy, others are funky - but they've all got style. Still, there are some vague ground rules. "I was told to dress nice and ladylike but not too revealing," says Tanya Narung, 20, a hostess at Four in Melville. "You kind of wing it, and hope they like it," says Kerry Wahler, 28, a manager-hostess at Toku in Manhasset.

So here is a look at the fashion stylings of six Long Island hostesses.



Who: Kerry Wahler, 28, says she learned about looking great every day when she attended culinary school in Italy, where the women are beautifully dressed.

Restaurant: Toku, Manhasset

Hostess power: "It really influences how customers see a restaurant," says Wahler, who's on today's cover. If there's a well-dressed, beautiful girl at the front door, they're going to be part of that grand experience. It adds to the entertainment value."

Her look: "I have to wear an outfit that people will remember. It has to stand out. Once in a while, I wear designer - I love Anne Fontaine, Catherine Malandrino - but I love to find small boutiques that only have one or two pieces of a certain style."

What she's wearing: Citrine satin sleeveless blouse with ruffles by Ooh-la-la, black skirt by Ann Taylor and Ralph Lauren boots.

Style muse: "Natalie Wood combined with Sophia Lauren - earthy and organic meets bombshell beautiful - it's all about those eyes."

Style in four words: Classic, fresh and individualistic.



Who: Jennifer Miranne, 22, a recent graduate of Fordham University with a degree in communications and philosophy

Restaurant: Porto Vivo, Huntington

Hostess power: "We set the tone for the entire restaurant. We open the doors, make eye contact, give a friendly smile. You want to make everyone feel important and help them have a nice experience."

Her look: "We have to wear black, and I think dresses are the easiest things. I want to look cute, kind of sexy but not in-your-face, and I like keeping it simple in good, well-made clothes."

What she's wearing: A one-shouldered ruffle minidress, Anne Klein pumps and Silpada jewelry

Style muse: Kate Moss. "I'm always fascinated by her wardrobe."

Style in four words: Toned-down sexy and sophisticated



Who: Jennifer Salino, 32, attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and, by day, is the assistant visual merchandiser at the Walt Whitman Saks Fifth Avenue

Restaurant: Barrique, Babylon

Hostess power: "My job is to look good. It creates an image and it matters. The hostess is the first person you see at the door, it's the first impression."

Her look: Big name or obscure designer, she wears expensive clothes with "a very sharp look, clean and cut on an angle." Goes for Diane von Fürstenberg, Ralph Lauren and Jimmy Choo.

What she's wearing: Patrizia Pepe gray dress with asymmetrical hem and $500 sandals that she's had for years; the brand name has worn off

Style muse: "Audrey Hepburn meets Sarah Jessica Parker. I love anything that's dramatic and sexy but I like to be a little conservative, too."

Style in four words: Elegant, classy European flair



Who: Angie Montoya, 31, a veteran hostess, manager, avid fashionista and mom

Restaurant: Four, Melville

Hostess power: "The food is presented in a certain and beautiful way, and the hostess should be, too. It's about packaging."

Her look: "Fierce, unique but nothing too over the top. I go for trendiness and affordability and like to shop at H&M and Guess."

What she's wearing: Poufy H&M skirt with petticoat, fitted camisole, thin leopard belt and red Jessica Simpson platform pumps with - eesh - 5-inch heels

Style muse: Jennifer Lopez. "She's sexy, elegant and classy, and I love the fact that she's Hispanic, because I can identify."

Style in four words: "It's about the shoes."



Who: Ana Rua, 22, a recent graduate of SUNY Geneseo with a degree in political science and international relations, who interned last summer at Vera Wang

Restaurant: Barrique, Babylon

Hostess power: "Hostesses set the tone and the ambience," says Rua, a manager-hostess who is known for dancing at the door. "They should be hip and happening and are the visual representations of the people who are out and about. It's a big deal."

Her look: Youthful, zesty and original. She loves sales and finding deals at H&M, Rainbow and Gap.

What she's wearing: Flowered frock by Betsey Johnson

Style muse: Rachel Bilson. "I enjoy her stuff. It's casual, kinky and cute."

Style in four words: Inexpensive, classic fashion savvy



Who: Tanya Narang, 20, a senior at Baruch College studying finance and an avid reader of fashion magazines

Restaurant: Four, Melville

Hostess power: "It's the first and last impression, and from top to bottom, you should look good. I get a lot of love for my shoes and dresses. People notice."

Her look: "We have to wear gray or black, and I like to wear dresses that are fitted and sophisticated," adding that her faves include Forever 21, BCBG and Marciano. "I'm a shopaholic and the main thing I love - love - is shoes. I have 50 or 60 pairs of heels and I never wear flats."

What she's wearing: Strapless, layered BCBG dress embellished with zippers, and antique silver Marciano shoes

Style muse: "Beyoncé. I admire her and her style. You just can't hate on her."

Style in four words: Feminine, sophisticated and classy

PHOTOS: A look at the fashion stylings of six Long Island hostesses.

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