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.

A Little Bit Of Leopard

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

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.

Pastel Tweed

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tie-Dye And Tailoring

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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.

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.

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.