Daytime dressing

FASHION has undergone a metamorphosis since the days of Annie Hall and the post-preppy days of oversized suits and bow ties. According to such American designers as Liz Claiborne, Gene Ewing, Harv'e Bernard, and Ellen Tracy, simplicity, comfort, and straightforward style are the primary concern -- especially for America's upward-moving career woman. Whether for office or street wear, new proportions -- long-over-short sweater dresses, and lean looks emphasizing the waist and the silhouette -- have replaced the boxy, masculine office look.

The suit is still an ideal passport to formal, impersonal interoffice strategy, but this season it's softer and lighter, and on a smaller scale that seems to say ``small is beautiful and can speak just as authoritatively as pinstripes.''

Dresses are also perfectly OK for office situations, as are sleeveless designs that can be complemented by cashmere sweaters for those air-conditioned days.

Although style (which is how you adapt fashion to suit your taste and aesthetic philosophy) is obviously a personal matter, the fashions on these pages give an overview of how women are interpreting today's fashions for their career and daytime life styles.

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