How To Wear Shorts To Work This Summer In 11 Smart Outfits

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When it’s already sweltering by your 9 a.m. commute, the last thing you want to do is go outside in heavy, full-length pants. Sure, it’s exciting when the temperatures start to rise, heralding summer’s arrival and the shift to a new, less layered wardrobe. On weekends and vacations endless sunshine is perfect for beach jaunts and lounging poolside in your new bikini. But Monday through Friday it’s a different story. Dressing for the heat and dressing for the office are not the most congruent of endeavors. Sometimes you just need to put on some shorts and be comfortable. So how do you wear shorts to work without worrying about HR?

Of course, you should always check to see if your employer has a designated dress code, and whenever in doubt, it’s best to err on the conservative side. But it is possible to wear shorts in a professional setting, especially if you’re in a creative field or other modern-minded work culture where the rulebook and atmosphere are a little more relaxed.

The key is to find a pair of shorts that isn’t too casual looking (skip super-distressed denim), and most importantly, isn’t too short or too tight. A mid-thigh or knee-length version with tailored details and a sleek, simple silhouette is usually a safe place to start. But, worth noting for shorts that don't fit that description: A lot of the magic happens in how you style them. Continue on for 11 outfit ideas that will allow you to wear shorts to work this summer and still keep it office appropriate.

Power Plaid

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Plaid suiting is always a sophisticated choice. Just switch out trousers for swingy shorts in a similar or matching check pattern.

Kendall Checked Blazer

$1,680

Khaite

James Menswear Check Pleated Shorts

$425

Tibi

Tanya Brown Patent Leather Sandals

$359

By Far

A Little Bit Of Leopard

Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images

Leopard print shorts give a classic blazer or blue oxford shirt a trendy update that works for the office.

Draped Cotton Poplin Shirt

$495

Cedric Charlier

Silk Linen Leopard Shorts

$225

Ganni

Lotte Leather Mules

$500

Wandler

Luxe Leather

A slouchy lightweight knit contrasts nicely with supple leather shorts in a longline silhouette. Complete the look with a blazer (but it'll still look chic without), and a pair of croc-embossed pumps to put you in boss mode.

Essential Cashmere Sweatshirt

$245

White + Warren

Milano Smooth Leather Shorts

$678

Veda

Croc-Effect Leather Pumps

$680

Prada

Pastel Tweed

Cornel Cristian Petrus/Shutterstock

According to the gospel of Coco Chanel, tweed separates are always elegant. Bring the look into spring by choosing a jacket and shorts in a soft, pastel hue.

Hey Honey Tweed Jacket

$111

Sister Jane

Hey Honey Tweed Shorts

$72

Sister Jane

Tall Ankle Boots

$463

Yeezy

Elevated Denim

Normally, raw-hem denim shorts would be a questionable choice for the office. But a knee-length style with minimal fraying, worn with a tailored white blazer and sleek slingback pumps, is actually passable.

Double-Breasted Woven Blazer in Ecru

$145

Frankie Shop

Beverly Denim Bermuda Shorts

$175

GRLFRND Denim

Lancastrela Leather Slingback Pumps

$680

Neous

Prints On Prints

Settle into a summer mood with pieces that are sharply tailored but in fun, bold prints and colors that make you feel like you're on vacation. To balance out such a statement ensemble, keep the shoes more subtle and neutral.

Green Print Mila Shirt

$384

Rejina Pyo

Good Butt Printed Shorts

$430

La DoubleJ

Jessie Tie-Detailed Leather and Mesh Mule

$595

Tibi

Wrap Artist

A chic wrap blouse or structured kimono jacket can elevate even a pair of cycling shorts. Just make sure they come down to around the knee to offset the fitted silhouette.

Libby Belted Top

$375

Mara Hoffman

Cyclist Bermuda Leggings

$60

Violeta by Mango

Pisa Mismatched Heel Leather Sandals

$774

Jacquemus

Dress It Up

One way to balance the decreased coverage on your legs is by compensating with extra length on top. For a modern take on monochrome separates, wear a bright-colored wrap dress or duster jacket with coordinating shorts.

Crepe Midi Wrap Dress

$434

Attico

Classic Short

$128

Jaw x Jawshop

Color-Block Mary Jane Pumps

$790

Marni

Tie-Dye And Tailoring

Olivier Degoulange/Shutterstock

Tie-dye is everywhere this season, but it can feel a little whimsical for certain settings. If you want to try it at the office, consider adding some more serious pieces to the mix, such as tailored black Bermuda shorts and menswear-inspired footwear.

Shrunken Fit Tie-Dye Hoodie

$148

Polo Ralph Lauren

Pleated Twill Shorts

$490

Rokh

Oxford Shoes

$620

Church's

Tangerine Dream

Suiting feels way less stuffy when it's done in a bold, splashy hue. This shorts suit is the perfect combination of polished and color wonderful. Plus, strappy sandals with subtle seashell embellishments add to the summertime vibes without going over the top.

Pockets Structured Blazer

$120

Mango

Belted Bermuda Shorts

$80

Mango

Tullio Embellished Sandals

$911

Altuzarra

Graphic Impact

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You can't go wrong with black and white. Wear knee-length cycling shorts in a high-contrast print with a classic black blazer that's a little longer than normal for extra coverage. Then throw on some modern white mules to up the impact.

Single-Breasted Blazer

$795

Joseph

UO Perry Polka Dot Bike Short

$39

Urban Outfitters

Teclado Toe Ring Slides

$125

Jeffrey Campbell