Four Tips for Styling Shorts to Work

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On the very hottest of summer days, wearing pants or slacks to work can be trying, to say the least. It’s way easier to stay cool, especially if you walk, bike, or take public transportation to work, while you’re wearing shorts. Keeping your lower legs exposed to the air, rather than covered with clothing, can make a huge difference in staying comfortable.

Even people who love shorts probably have their reasons for wearing pants to work. Specifically, many offices have an unwritten rule that wearing shorts is a no-no. And in those offices that are more lax about wearing shorts, there’s the question of how to style shorts to work. Read on below for four tips for styling shorts to work (and when, if at all, you can wear shorts to work).

Material matters

Never wear gym shorts to the office. Even traditional denim shorts might scan as too casual, though the definition of “casual” may vary by workspace. Instead, if you’re looking for shorts that are comfortable, cool, and professional, look for shorts made of satin, crepe, lace, or sturdy cotton. Any material that doesn’t scrunch, crumble, fold, or lose its original shape in any other way is better for office environments.

2. Color counts

While shopping, you might stumble upon a pair of bright yellow shorts and fall head over heels for their satin makeup, but you still shouldn’t buy them. Bright, bold, or attention-grabbing colors are ill-advised for styling shorts to work. Instead, opt for shades of khaki, grey, black, brown, navy, or green (but only darker greens, not neon or lime green!). In general, if it’s not a color you would ordinarily see in office-style or professional pants, you’ll want to avoid it for shorts.

3. Don’t go higher than the knees

It’s true — short shorts are adorable. But they’re not right for the office. For your work shorts, stick to options that fall to at least the top of the knees. Since you’ll want your office shorts to lean closer to a slim or loose fit than a skinny one, you might be able to strike the ideal balance with shorts that fall below the knee when you stand but roll up to the top of your knees when you sit.

4. Go the tailored route

This doesn’t mean to take your favorite shorts to your local tailor. Instead, as you’re buying new shorts for work, look for polished, tailored silhouettes. These shorts, if you avoid the figure-hugging variety, will look classy without revealing too much skin or showing too much of your frame.  Don’t go too baggy, either — there is such a thing as taking casual too far in the office.

How do I know whether I can wear shorts to work?

If you’re new to your office, stick with pants. If you’ve been to your office for at least a couple of months and have come to understand its unwritten dress code, use that to determine whether you can get away with wearing shorts. At many startups, nonprofits, or other companies with more modern-leaning dress codes, you’re probably safe to wear shorts, but in any suit and tie environment, shorts are a hard no. If you work in a job that has any sort of physical safety hazards, both shorts and short-sleeved shirts are similarly a hard no.

Would you wear shorts to work? Get the debate going in the comments!

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