6 workplace-approved tips for wearing shorts for the office

Written by Zoe Anastasiou

To short, or not to short – that is the question. Here are all the office-worthy ways to style shorts for the workplace. 

With record-breaking temperatures hitting the UK this week, many of us are rethinking our wardrobes and re-evaluating what is needed to keep cool when the mercury rises. Breezy linen skirts and cotton dresses aside, it is often our work wardrobes that require the most attention as it can be difficult to decipher what does and does not constitute appropriate office attire. 

In recent years, there has been much discussion about whether shorts are suitable for the office and, heatwave or no, it’s a topic worth clearing up. Depending on the industry you work in, what is considered acceptable office wear can mean vastly different things, but we’re convinced that shorts can make the cut, as long as they are styled correctly. 

Generally, a good rule of thumb here is, if you could wear them to the beach, don’t wear them to the office. This means elasticated waist, athletic shorts, cut-off jeans shorts, and anything that resembles Kylie Minogue’s gold hot pants are definitely out of the question. 

Your safest bet is to go for tailored shorts in a thick linen or cotton fabric, and make sure to choose a pair that offers a little extra length. Style them alongside traditional office items like button-down shirts or blazers, and you’ll have yourself a look worthy of Rachel Green’s Ralph Lauren era. 

Still in need of a few more tips? Keep scrolling for the best way to style shorts for the office. 

Cut-offs need not apply

A fashion week showgoer pairs long denim shorts alongside a pink shirt.

To borrow some lingo from about every HR manager, we’d say wearing denim cut-offs (or jorts as they’re affectionately known) would likely be deemed ‘inappropriate office behaviour.’ No matter how you style this one, the micro hemline and frayed edges make for a no-go.

If you work in a more casual environment and you’re desperate to get some jean shorts into your workwear rotation, we’d suggest a Bermuda short worn alongside a crisp white shirt or blazer. This will add a little polish to the look. 

Try a co-ord set 

At Milan Fashion Week a guest wears a matching orange shirt and shorts set.

A tried-and-tested styling hack that many fashion devotees swear by is investing in co-ords. These sets can often take the guesswork out of getting dressed in the morning and will alwayslook polished with very little effort. 

A shorts set, like the orange one above, is a perfect office option as it looks elevated, thanks to the use of tailoring. The contrast piping detail on the hem and bow tie front on the shirt, also help to give this look a classic yet contemporary feel. 

Pair alongside workplace-approved separates 

Pernille Teisbaek is taking a modern approach to work wear.

Tailored button-down shirts and blazers are the cornerstones of many a work wardrobe. No matter what industry you work in, their must-have status is universally enduring. 

By pairing your shorts alongside a classic workplace staple, you’ll instantly make them feel more polished and therefore office appropriate. It’s professionalism by association, so to speak. 

Shoes matter 

Tamu McPherson elevates her blazer and bike shorts look with the help of a pair of heels.

While you might work in an environment where the take on footwear is fairly casual and sneakers or sandals are par for the course, when wearing shorts to the office we suggest you take your shoe game up a notch. 

Styling your look alongside closed-toe pumps, heeled sling-backs or even loafers will instantly dress up the outfit. Opting for sneakers or flat sandals may take your look into weekend-wear territory. 

Go oversize 

Ellie Delphine pairs an oversize short with shorts in Paris.

If your shorts are on the, well, shorter side, make sure the rest of your look is well-proportioned and even oversized. A baggier shirt will work to balance out your outfit so it doesn’t feel like too much skin is on display. 

You could even take a leaf out of Ellie Delphine’s book and style your shirt buttoned all the way to the top. Chic! 

When all else fails, a suit will save the day 

A shorts suit will always look polished.

If you’re looking at the list above and thinking you’re still not entirely convinced, a guaranteed way to make the look work is by opting for a short suit. As the trouser suit’s chicer little sister, a shorts suit feels instantly office appropriate, as long as you ensure the hemline is discreet. 

We’d suggest wearing the suit alongside a t-shirt or blouse and opting for a heeled shoe or smart loafer. 

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