Dress suits are becoming dinosaurs in Los Angeles. The traditional corporate suit with matching pumps and itchy, elegant nylons is being squeezed out by women who are opting for "corporate casual" mix-and-match slacks, skirts and jackets that are comfortable yet professional. The Business Journal asked eight women professionals of various ranks and industries whether, and how, they dress for success.

Cindy Fierro, senior marketing manager, American Express

Ever since our sales force went virtual and started working out of their homes, the rest of us in the office started to dress very casually. We even had our own fashion show of virtual office wear at a regional meeting. People came down the runway in bathrobes, with towels on their heads, and in wild boxers.

You're a whole lot more productive when you're comfortable. And it's much more economical. I don't have to wait for sales anymore to buy all my nylons. Now I wear slacks and jackets and knee-high socks.

Business casual is perfect. It's a happy medium between casual Fridays and formal dress. When I started at the company 17 years ago, women couldn't wear pants, only skirts and jackets. Today, I still like to wear jackets, because it looks more pulled together.

Elena Medina, secretary, Law Firm of Tuttle & Taylor

I'm of the old school. I think you should dress nicely. I've been with the firm for 16 years and generally dress up. We had to set a dress code about five years ago when some staff people started wearing sweats and tennis shoes. You're not supposed to look like you are going to the gym no tennis shoes, no stirrup pants and no sweat suits. All the women have to wear pantyhose, even if they're wearing sandals. Some people haven't reacted well, so now we have casual Fridays.

Carline Kaplan, president, Kaplan Communications Inc.

Corporate dress is very confining and uncomfortable, especially when you're wearing pantyhose and working at a computer eight or more hours a day.

Now I wear jeans or corduroy pants with a jacket and fun shoes. But when I meet with clients, I like to wear suits so they don't collect dust in my closet. I also tend to dress according to my clients' corporate code. Clients in high-tech are more casual than those in financial services, for instance.


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