By and  on June 14, 2006

NEW YORK — This week is forecast to bring warmer temperatures at last to Manhattan, so the big question women face is: how to dress for the office?

Open-toed sandals, flip-flops, city shorts and camisole tops may be a great way to beat the heat, but they are often frowned upon at certain companies and industries, not to mention a poor wardrobe choice for air-conditioned offices.

Following the success of "casual Fridays" several years ago, many companies adopted a "business casual" dress code all year long, eliminating the need for women to be suited up every day and giving them more options.

"I've been at Pfizer for 15 years, and I remember the days I had to wear suits and stockings every day," said Elvia Crismali, an administrative assistant in corporate human resources. She said since Pfizer went to "business appropriate" attire in 2002, she's enjoyed having more options and finds a more casual atmosphere to be "more productive."

Many companies have issued guidelines on what's appropriate for their offices, while others have an unwritten policy. Jeans are frowned upon in many financial services, law and investment firms — except for clean-up days and outings — but remain an option in some of the more creative fields. Companies seem willing to give the go-ahead to the new city shorts when worn with a nice blouse or blazer. In fact, the publisher of a major fashion magazine was spotted earlier this week sporting city shorts with flip-flops en route to the office, and several women were seen in Midtown this week wearing the long city shorts. As a rule, open-toed shoes pass muster, but flip-flops and beach sandals aren't allowed, said spokeswomen for companies in the financial services, cosmetic, accessories and pharmaceutical industries.

Most firms — no matter what the industry — still require a more dressed-up appearance, i.e., pantsuits, skirt suits or dresses — when meeting with clients or at industry events.

WWD interviewed executives at numerous companies around the city, ranging from American Express to Saks Fifth Avenue, to see what their dress code is for summer, and whether the new city shorts, as well as miniskirts, camisoles, open-toed sandals, jeans and nose piercings are acceptable; how these rules are communicated, and whether summer interns — sometimes the biggest violators of strict corporate dress codes — have to abide by them.

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