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Style SOS: Can I wear shorts to work?

Style SOS: Can I wear shorts to work?

"It's quite hot where I live, and I've been tempted to wear shorts, but I'm not sure if they're appropriate. Any advice?" - Callum via email 

Callum, a hot office and a too thick trouser combo is never a fun time. Combine that with a sweaty commute and impromptu drinks in the park, and we’ve never been so ready to ditch the dress code. In our books, we’re all for a shins-out look, and if you’re in an office where ties are long-since discarded, chinos are ubiquitous and smart, and jeans aren’t cause for a disciplinary, then rest assured you can join the movement too. 

Below you’ll find the shorts to pick, the shoes to wear them with, and some handy styling tips from stylist Millie Rich for good measure. If however, your office is really that strict, opt for a pair of linen trousers and accept our deepest sympathies.

The shorts

“They need to be the right kind,” says stylist Millie Rich. Your gym shorts are for working out, not for work. “You want to look professional, so you should also avoid going too short or too tight. About an inch above the knee and with an inch of give in the hem is perfect.” The material also matters – no denim, no nylon, no jersey. “Chino shorts are generally good, but if they still feel too relaxed then tailored shorts are a slightly more formal option.” Cut from the same kind of fabric as suit trousers, they’re as refined as shorts get.

The styling

Even tailored shorts can still feel more casual than trousers, but exactly where they sit depends on what’s above the belt. “To smarten shorts up, wear them with a shirt,” Millie says. “It stops them from looking too casual. Then for a top layer add a utility jacket or an unstructured blazer.” Something loose and breezy beats anything too buttoned-up. “Refrain from anything really smart, like a suit jacket or a tie.” If the contrast is too stark, the shorts start to look out of place. 

The shoes

There’s a whole lot of leg between where your shorts end and your shoes begin, which can make anything too formal feel clunky. So lose the high-shine lace-ups and think more relaxed. “You want something low-key,” Millie says. “Suede is a great material for the summer because it breathes. Loafers, suede trainers or even suede Oxfords could work, so long as they’re lightweight and not too heavy-duty.”

Words: Yasmine Kennedy
Illustration: Ryan Gillett
Styling: Millie Rich