LOS ANGELES - Attorneys at the Newport Beach office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher are crazy about Aloha Fridays.
One day a week during the summer, people put away their suits and ties and don Hawaiian shirts with casual slacks or skirts. A few female litigators even tuck a flower or two in their hair.
"Oh, I love it," said associate Claudia Kihano Parker. "It's sort of like having a ditch day in high school."
Like Gibson, Dunn, more and more companies are relaxing their dress codes, some even setting aside a special day once a week or month when employees can dress informally.
In fact, four out of every 10 companies in the United States have a "casual dress" day, according to a survey by North Reading, Mass.-based shoe manufacturer Converse Inc. Half of the companies participating in the report believe it improves executive morale.
"There is a recognition that people like to be comfortable and when they are comfortable, morale is better," Converse spokesman Jerry Nelson said.
At the Los Angeles public relations firm Carl Terzian Associates, employees asked for, and received, a casual dress day the last Friday of the month.
"You can wear whatever you want, even shorts," said Terry Madigan, senior account executive. He says he feels more creative on those days, observing that people seem to be having more fun.
"It's amazing to think that the way you dress can change the way you think, but it really does. People feel a little happier if they can dress down one day a month," Madigan said.
Gibson, Dunn partner Robert E. Dean even has a Hawaiian shirt collection, replenished every time he visits the islands. Dean said his favorite for the office is a gray Hawaiian shirt with red flowers. He insists that his shirts are at the "subtle end."
But Hawaiian shirts only range from "loud" to "very loud," quipped partner William Claster. Even so, he says everyone seems to enjoy a chance to wear them to work. "Even clients who come in like them," he said.