How to Wear Shorts for Work All Summer Long
When temps go up, so do hemlines. Here's how to do it in a professional environment.
Nowadays, you won’t be shunned by the townsfolk for showing your knees at the office, but the rules of business casual dressing for the office can still feel hard to pin down. For example, wearing shorts to work in the summer: Is it appropriate? If you wear shorts to work, will you burst into flames as soon as you swipe your keycard? Take a breath and let us explain.
Unless your company has an explicit dress code that forbids shorts or requires you to wear a uniform, summer shorts for work are most likely fine. In fact, you can apply many of the same "rules" you’d use for skirts to shorts in terms of length and fit. You can also choose the same lightweight summer fabrics, such as linen and cotton blends, while silk may be case-by case. Denim, on the other hand, is almost always a no-go unless your company takes casual Fridays to a truly laidback level.
Related:We Still Have No Clue What to Wear to the Office, So We Asked Stylists for Outfit Ideas
Ahead, we’ve gathered 13 examples of summer shorts outfits that aren’t just work-appropriate, but are also trendy and fun. After all, if the look doesn’t slap, why get dressed at all?
With a Suit
Shop Similar: Everlane The Tencel Way-High Drape Short, $78, and Everlane The Tencel Oversized Blazer, $178.
Knee-length shorts are generally a safe bet for the office, especially if paired with flats and a matching blazer. Add a white tee to keep things business casual or a ruffle blouse for a more formal vibe.
With a Blue Button-Down
Nothing says business like a crisp button-down shirt in a shade of light blue. Wear one with a pair of wide-leg shorts in a light neutral like cream or beige for a look that’s breezy, but professional.
Try Dark Florals
Shop Similar: FARM Rio Black Macaw Elegance Unisex Shorts, $110.
Stay with us: Swap the corset top for a long-sleeve silk blouse and the boots for a pair of stacked loafers and you’ve got yourself a summer shorts work look worth repeating through Labor Day.
With a Summer Sweater
Shop Similar: 7 for All Mankind Faux Leather Tailored Short, $168.
No need for a heavy knit here. Instead, a loose-weave knit and three-quarter-length sleeves bring this look to life. Matching paper bag shorts in a contrasting fabric like faux leather add depth and texture. If the look above had an extra three on the shorts, we’d be wearing it to the office tomorrow.
As a Matching Set
Shop Similar: ba&sh wilow. Structured Shorts, $225, and ba&sh dune. Loose-Fitting Shirt, $220.
A midriff-baring set might not be the way to go, but a full torso-coverage matching set, especially in a suit-inspired tweed or patterned print, is a business casual win.
With a Vest
Shop Similar: Banana Republic Palma Linen Vest, $140.
At some offices, you may be able to get by with only a vest and a pair of shorts. But with an additional layer or two, this menswear-inspired look is perfect for a summer workday just about anywhere. Rather than a cropped vest that hits your natural waist, we recommend a longer line and a looser, more oversized fit.
Stick to Basics
If your office frowns on adventurous dressing, keep things simple with a white button-down shirt and a pair of knee-length shorts in a dark color like navy or forest green.
With Summer Whites
Shop Similar: Benetton Linen Bermuda Shorts with Cuffs, $88.
Keeping in mind that light-colored linen might not be the best choice if you commute on the subway, we still love the look of it. Adding a crisp collared shirt, knee-length shorts, crew socks, and stacked shoes is a bold look that still manages to meet the business casual brief. Cinch your waist with a belt in a contrasting color and you’re good to go. The lightweight cream trench, while to die for, is totally optional depending on your forecast.
Add a Necktie
Monochromatic dressing can be tempting when it comes to wearing shorts to the office. We’re not mad at it, but we do love the idea of breaking up a single-color work shorts look by adding a striped or patterned necktie.
Try a Bold Pattern
Shop Similar: Madewell Harlow Short in Checked 100% Linen, $85.
Patterned shorts can absolutely work for the office, especially when paired with a long sleeve top in a neutral color. Checks, plaid, or houndstooth in a vibrant shade are perfect, but we also love a bolder print like hearts or a nautical theme.
Pair Cargos with a Collar
Shop Similar: Lululemon Relaxed-Fit Super-High-Rise Cargo Short 4", $89 (Originally $118).
Everyone loves pockets, and a pair of winged cargo shorts worn with a collared shirt is definitely business-appropriate. When picking out cargo shorts for work, think pleated rather than baggy cotton for a structured, elevated look.
With an Untucked Top and Loafers
This preppy look could benefit from longer shorts in a corporate environment, but the academic vibe is definitely one that can be worn to the office in the warmer months. A sweater vest and chunky, structured loafers adds a serious air to the untucked button-down, and a lightweight trench on top completes the look.
With Monochromatic Layers
When in doubt, layer up. Keeping a consistent color palette from your accessories to your outerwear is one way to keep thinks looking elevated, even if you're sneakily wearing an ultra-comfy knit fabric to work.
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