Shorts to Work?

Over the summer I had a wonderful holiday in the Caribbean.  Unsurprisingly it was hot so I spent 3 weeks wearing shorts.  It was great.  I realised that I very much enjoyed the sense of relaxation and freedom I felt whilst wearing them. 

The week after I got back I attended a Conference for which the dress code was smart casual.  Crucially the weather was mild so for most of that week I wore shorts as well, suitably dressed up.  For tips on this see my previous post: Should a Gentleman’s Wardrobe Include Shorts?


So when I got back to my office this week I had been wearing shorts nearly continuously for 4 weeks.  I was not looking forward to going back to long trousers.  So I thought.  Could I get away with wearing shorts to work?

It’s a great question to ask. Clearly if you are a barrister, a high court judge, or a perhaps bishop, wearing shorts to work may not quite be the kind of thing you could easily get away with because of the formality of the work context. Then again, each of these roles often involves wearing medieval robes so who knows what they are wearing under there….

But I digress.


In my context in Higher education August is a month in which very little is on and there is even more of a dress down culture than usual.  So I gave it a go.

Given that it was work and I didn’t want to look overly casual I thought I better dress up my shorts.

So I went for blue smart chino shorts (rather than red, pink, or yellow, for example). They were combined with a pale blue and white fine striped blazer and pink check button own collar shirt. I contemplated wearing drivers but opted for loafers instead as they felt less casual.  And off to work I went.


It was a liberating experience, and though I did get one or two double take looks, no one commented on the fact that my chinos stopped at the knee rather than the ankle.

Best of all, since I wore my loafers without socks I was able to slip off my shoes and walk about in my office in bare feet.  Awesome. I am not sure that my productivity increased but it was my first day properly back in the office so I am not sure that I was in the best frame of mind to be productive anyway.

So in the last few days of summer as August turns into September why not see if you can get away with wearing shorts to work?



If you are going to try it I suggest that the more formal the shorts the less likely you are seen as not taking work seriously. So chino rather than cargo shorts, in solid and more conservative colours suggest that you are at work and not at play. Hawaiian shorts are best avoided.  Even if you aren’t going to work.

If you don’t feel too self-conscious try combining your shorts with a blazer or a jumper.  Blazers work best if they are slim fir and not too long. Dress up your shorts with a pair of loafers or brogues and leave your socks in your sock drawer. Give it a go and see how you get on.  It is amazing how much of a difference it makes having your shins and calves out in the open.

So can you wear shorts to work?  I recommend it.  But only when no rain is forecast…..



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