Rating Restaurant Uniforms

UPDATED 09/16/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/16/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

OUR JUDGES

PAMELA DENNIS
Evening wear designer

EILEEN FISHER
Sportswear designer

BYRON LARS
Sportswear designer

ARNOLD SCAASI
Couture designer

You may pore over a menu, but have you ever perused your server's outfit? A successful uniform, says designer Byron Lars, "must convey the mood of the restaurant." Comfort must also be among the specialties, adds designer Pamela Dennis, since staffers "walk around a lot." Here, soap stars who model the work clothes, along with fashion mavens, offer their reviews

OFFICIAL ALL STAR CAFE
Modeled by Diego Serrano, Another World

This baseball-theme getup scores a home run with our male judges but strikes out with the women. "It's very cool," concludes Serrano, who'd feel perfectly comfortable wearing the striped shirt and black pants out on the street. "Macho," says Arnold Scaasi approvingly. Byron Lars points out that "the person who wears these clothes is approachable, and that's important in wait staff." But Eileen Fisher thinks the uniform is strictly bush league. "It reminds me of a hot, sweaty day in a baseball park," she says.

MEDIEVAL TIMES
Modeled by Lisa LoCicero, The City

Our experts think the Middle Ages outfit for the jousting-theme eatery featured in The Cable Guy is fun but a tad Gothic. "It feels overdone," says Eileen Fisher. Several judges worry that the off-the-shoulder dress and hiked-up skirt wouldn't flatter the average waitress. "You have to have an amazing body to look good," says Pamela Dennis, though she does admire the floral headpiece. Byron Lars feels that the political implications of the outfit are positively feudal. "It would be cooler to see some of the women as knights," he says. But our model takes a more humorous view. "I've always known that I was a wench," says LoCicero, "so this is pretty comfortable for me."

T.G.I. FRIDAY'S
Modeled by Bronson Picket, As the World Turns

This candy-cane uniform gives off the sweet smell of success. Byron Lars calls it "flattering, really modern and graphic." But Pamela Dennis isn't wild about the colors. "Red-and-white stripes aren't soothing," she says. Actor Picket agrees: "I look like I work for a soccer team."

FASHION CAFE
Modeled by Aisha Henderson, As the World Turns

So you thought the restaurant fronted by supermodels Claudia, Elle, Naomi and Christy might feature frumpy fashion? Au contraire! "Cute," says Arnold Scaasi. "Chic," offers Pamela Dennis. "Modern," adds Byron Lars. "I love it!" declares actress Henderson. The iridescent blue-jersey shirt wins megapoints from Eileen Fisher for being "the fashion of the season." And what does the outfit express about the wearer? Suggests Lars:" 'I'm cute and I'm young and I might be famous one day.' "

BIG BOY
Modeled by Kevin McClatchy, Another World

This outfit seems so familiar to former bartender McClatchy that, he says, putting it on gave him "the worst flashbacks" of working in a restaurant. But it sends a friendly message to Byron Lars: "Do you want fries with that?" For Pamela Dennis the polo shirt evokes a different image. "The maroon," she says, "reminds me of the inside of a rental car."

RUBY TUESDAY
Modeled by Dahlia Salem, Another World

With "ruby" in the title, the shirt was a no-brainer. "I love red," says actress Salem. Pamela Dennis agrees with the color choice: "What the waitress is wearing is right for what she has to do." But Eileen Fisher files a minority report. "I'm not big on color being the first thing you see," she explains

CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN
Modeled by John Howard, As the World Turns

The Oxford shirt-black pants-pastel tie combo is a classic, say our judges. "I like the simplicity as well as the small apron," says actor Howard, a former model. "It's pulled-together," adds Eileen Fisher. Concurs Byron Lars: "The implication is that there is a dignity to waiting tables."

LONG JOHN SILVER'S
Modeled by Philip Anthony, The City

This chain's red, white and blue turns its servers into Yankee Doodle dandies. "There's something about the proportions, hat and apron that would make even a nerdy guy look cool," says Byron Lars. Actor Anthony is partial to the blue: "It's like the sky." But Eileen Fisher finds the whole effect "too moderate."

THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY
Modeled by Lisa Brenner, Another World

White on! declare the judges. "All white says that we don't get stains in this place," offers Byron Lars. "The pink bow tie gives it a touch of color without distracting from the purity." Eileen Fisher is equally effusive: "It's clean and fresh, more together than most of the other uniforms." But actress Brenner, who quit a brief waitressing gig after she tripped carrying a tray of cappuccino cups, says that she would be concerned about keeping the clothes clean. Imagining herself as a more graceful waitress, Brenner says, "I feel so sweet, like I should be serving cheesecake."

HOOTERS
Modeled by Kelley Menighan, As the World

Turns The tag line on the tank top ("Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined") says it all. Yet Hooters' skimpy uniform receives some surprisingly high marks from fashion sophisticates. "I can't help it," says Byron Lars. "I love it. The '70s shorts are reminiscent of Farrah." Pamela Dennis, who appreciates the "bright cheery colors," says that as long as the waitresses look as good as our model, "this outfit is great." But Arnold Scaasi dismisses the clothes as "boring." And actress Menighan expresses a thought common to many: "I just can't believe that women have to work in this."

HOULIHAN'S
Modeled by Gina Tognoni, One Life to Live

Houlihan's turned to prepmeister Eddie Bauer to supply its collegiate attire. "I look like I'm ready for sailing," says actress Tognoni. Notes Pamela Dennis: "She's dressed like a customer, which might be the point." But Byron Lars believes, "This outfit says, 'Look at me, I'm a bore.' "

TACO BELL
Modeled by Lisa Lawrence, As the World Turns

This chain has spiced up American cuisine, but our judges say it hasn't done a thing for style. "The Taco Bell server should be in a fiery color like yellow," suggests Pamela Dennis." These restaurants should let me design the clothes for women," says a disapproving Scaasi. But former waitress Lawrence insists, "I think this is cute."

PLANET HOLLYWOOD
Modeled by Greg Wrangler, All My Children

Box office biggies like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore own stock in this chain, so it's no surprise that the uniform puts in a blockbuster performance. "These guys are supposed to look like Hollywood types, and they do. The clothes are busy and active, like the decor," says Pamela Dennis, who also notes that the oversize shirt-and-shorts combo would be comfortable for an eight-hour shift. "It's fun," agrees Arnold Scaasi. "Totally cool" is how Greg Wrangler sums up the colorful shirt he's wearing. But Byron Lars is less than starstruck. "I don't love it or hate it," he says. "It looks very touristy. I guess that's right for Planet Hollywood."

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