WE COULD be witnessing the end of the white-collar worker as we know him or her. Following the daring example set by the parent company in the United States, Ford of Europe has just issued a decree allowing employees to adopt "casual dress" - exce pt when meeting car dealers and the like who "may not yet have embraced more flexible dress codes for `formal' business dealings".

Moreover, FOE has allowed "casualness" to spread throughout the whole week. Its parent, for some bizarre reason, permits the loosening of the white collar only on Mondays and Fridays. Mark you, Ford's idea of "casual" does not go that far. While slacks and sweaters are In, there's a longer list of "inappropriate attire". This ranges from jeans ("regardless of colour") to bare legs and "torn, tight or revealing clothing".

One ban may get Ford into trouble with the Race Relations Board. In banning "skirts/dresses with slits extending well above the knee" Ford is excluding the cheongsams worn as a matter of routine by Chinese women.