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.
Plaid suiting is always a sophisticated choice. Just switch out trousers for swingy shorts in a similar or matching check pattern.
Kendall Checked Blazer
James Menswear Check Pleated Shorts
Tanya Brown Patent Leather Sandals
A Little Bit Of Leopard
Leopard print shorts give a classic blazer or blue oxford shirt a trendy update that works for the office.
Draped Cotton Poplin Shirt
Silk Linen Leopard Shorts
Lotte Leather Mules
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
White + Warren
Milano Smooth Leather Shorts
Croc-Effect Leather Pumps
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
Hey Honey Tweed Shorts
Tall Ankle Boots
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
Beverly Denim Bermuda Shorts
Lancastrela Leather Slingback Pumps
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
Good Butt Printed Shorts
Jessie Tie-Detailed Leather and Mesh Mule
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
Cyclist Bermuda Leggings
Violeta by Mango
Pisa Mismatched Heel Leather Sandals
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
Jaw x Jawshop
Color-Block Mary Jane Pumps
Tie-Dye And Tailoring
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
Polo Ralph Lauren
Pleated Twill Shorts
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
Belted Bermuda Shorts
Tullio Embellished Sandals
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.
UO Perry Polka Dot Bike Short
Teclado Toe Ring Slides