Miniskirts' revival causes little concern in workplace

By , Business correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Short skirts are trying to make a comeback. But so far the rising hemlines haven't raised a lot of eyebrows in corporations.

Unlike the late 1960s, when some corporations tried to establish dress codes for employees, the fashion trend toward shorter skirts - some only a few inches above the knee, some that only come down to midthigh - apparently hasn't resulted in new corporate dress standards.

According to Marilyn Machlowitz, contributing editor of Working Woman Magazine, most companies haven't had dress codes since ''the prevalence of pants made policy statements on dress passe.'' Instead of codes detailing how many inches above the knee a skirt should be, she says, officials are more likely today to say ''we expect all employees to maintain an acceptable dress standard.''

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In fact, this is the case at many large corporations. A spokeswoman for International Business Machines says that, contrary to some press reports, IBM does not have a dress code. Rather, she says, employees are encouraged ''to dress appropriately for their job.'' So far she hasn't observed any short skirts at the company.

At Exxon Corporation, spokesman James Morakis says, the company has no formal dress code, but expects its employees to ''dress with taste.''

At some types of companies, the short skirts are considered acceptable. For example, at McGrath-Power Associates Inc., a public relations firm, Lee McGrath, a partner, says some of her staff frequently show up in short skirts. When Maureen Crow, an account executive at the firm, showed up in a short skirt, Ms. McGrath recalls, ''waves of shock'' rolled through the offices. Now, Ms. Crow says, the staff is used to it.

''If anyone is wearing anything unusual in New York City, it's me,'' exclaims Ms. Crow, who says she has worn the miniskirts to meet some of the firm's fashion-oriented clients, and has not felt out of place. In New York miniskirts are more common than in most of the nation.

Women who wear them say they like the short skirts for a variety of reasons. One woman, who works for the public relations firm of Kekst & Co., interviewed along Madison Avenue, said she was wearing a short skirt because it was ''cooler ,'' alluding to the 80-degree temperature. And another woman on Fifth Avenue said she liked ''the freedom'' the new hemlines gave her.

The new minis are different from those of the late '60s and early '70s. Instead of wearing fishnet stockings, high heels, and short tight skirts, women are wearing brightly colored stockings, fuller skirts, and flat shoes.

Howard Rosenberger, president of the Act III division of Jonathan Logan, a major apparel manufacturer, says the trend toward shorter skirt lengths is more than a fad. He predicts that clothes designed for early spring 1983 will show rising hemlines.

However, Marjorie Gaber, a sales representative with Geraldine Peterson Sportswear, which sells apparel intended for more fashion-oriented markets, says the miniskirt is not back to stay. And, she notes, the executive-caliber woman will probably never wear one to the office.

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