What Gets You... The Best Table? The Right Job? First Class?

Turns out the small things-from what you wear to how you sit-are bigger deals than you may have thought. Here, experts spill the inside info on what little tricks you can pull to get big results

Perry Hagopian

AT THE TABLE Jenni Kwantes is the maitre d' at Koi, a modern Japanese restaurant in New York.

ON THE JOB Cynthia Shapiro is the author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You To Know-And What To Do About Them.

IN THE AIR Katherine Lee is a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines.

DINING AT A TRENDY RESTAURANT "The first things I think a maitre d' notices are a woman's bag and shoes-they're the telltale signs of a girl with style." - Tia, 30, Author.

MAITRE D' JENNI KWANTES SAYS:"We hold the best tables for reservations, but if the people are no-shows after 20 minutes, then those tables open up. Appearance always plays a big part in who gets to sit there."

"Sunday and Monday nights are typically the easiest time to get reservations," Kwantes says. "But don't rule out the weekend. People tend to dine latest on Friday nights, so you can score a great table at an earlier time."

JEWELRY: "I'm impressed by great jewelry-especially rings and earrings," Kwantes says."People who take time with their wardrobe are ready to have fun, like to spend money and time with friends, and are looking for a place to do that again. And that's what we want: for customers to become regulars."

BAGS AND SHOES:"I don't necessarily care about labels or the latest designs, but I like when someone can reinvent a classic outfit or a conservative look with a hot pair of shoes and a new bag," Kwantes says. "It shows me you pay attention to details. Customers who dress to impress make me feel like I want to impress them, too, whether it be better seating, shorter waiting time, or more personal attention."

ACCESSIBILITY:"Though it may sound cliche, if you smile at me at the front door I always notice," Kwantes says. "It doesn't happen nearly often enough! And strike up a conversation: Let me know what you're looking for. If you're having a night out with the girls, I'll know you'd be happier waiting at the bar for a better table than you would be if you were, say, at a graduation celebration with relatives."

Perry Hagopian

ACING A JOB INTERVIEW "The job I'd want isn't one you'd have to wear a blazer or pantsuit to, so I'd wear a nice dress to an interview."- Erin, 24, Public Relations Manager

WORKPLACE COACH CYNTHIA SHAPIRO SAYS: "Interviewers tend to size up women based on their appearance. A woman-more than a man-has to project a responsible image if she wants to be taken seriously on first meeting."
Women who wear makeup are perceived as having higher earning potential and more prestigious jobs than those who wear no makeup, a study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found.

CONFIDENCE: "Look an interviewer straight in the eye, and shale hands firmly," Shapiro says. "It's so basic, but it truly is the most important thing. You only get one chance for the 'wow'. Fake confidence if you don't feel it: Take up space by draping your arm over the chair next to you and leaning forward as you speak."

HAIR: "I look to see whether the candidate is going for a sexy look or a serious one," Shapiro says. "Hair worn down indicates the former. Always wear it up to an interview: It gives the appearance that you are steady and professional."

OUTFIT: "Employers look at the way you dress as an indication of what kind of thinker you are," Shapiro says. "If you look too casual, it implies you're not fully interested. Once, I interviewed a woman who wore everything bright blue: dress, bow, stockings, heels, purse-even eyeshadow! Her outfit was so distracting, I couldn't listen to a word she said. People make the most mistakes when going to a creative company. In this case, dress in a sophisticated outfit, like a suit, but add one funky accent, like fabulous shoes or a piece of artistic jewelry."

Perry Hagopian


"When I travel, I wear ballet flats and knit pants-never jeans-and a shawl or sweater, because I get cold. - Elisabeth, 26, Press Director


"The trend right now is a return to the elegance and style of a past generation, when people would dress up to travel. Even flight attendants are glamming it up these days."


"A smile lets me know I have a happy passenger on the plane," Lee says. "If we leave with a seat open, I bump someone up to first if she's helped out in some way, or if she's celebrating a special occasion like a honeymoon." Other airlines subscribe to the smile theory, too. "We deal with 2000 to 3000 people every night at [New York's] JFK airport alone," says John Lampl, vice president of corporate communications of the Americas for British Airways. "When you're dealing with that many people, it's a pleasure to help someone who is pleasant to you."

There are 70,000 fewer airline employees now than there were in 2002, but 10 million more passengers. Spread the kindness to overworked staff-and reap the rewards.


"Carry yourself with grace and never look or act disheveled. Act like you belong in first class," Lee says. "Upgrades are never guaranteed, but you can increase your chances through behavior," says VIP-travel expert Anastasia

Mann, CEO and chairman of Corniche Group, Inc.Travel Management. "Arrive to your gate early. Make eye contact with the agent, introduce yourself, and politely ask to be considered for an upgrade if the possibility arises."


"I know it's not easy to travel in heels, but there are ways to pull together an outfit without wearing tennis shoes or flip-flops," Lee says. "Wear dress flats, ballet flats, or driving loafers- they make you look sophisticated and attractive, yet they're still casual."

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