The Great Debate: Can Shorts Be Work-Appropriate?

Work-appropriate shorts

Last week, Rue had a company-wide volunteer day. And for the first time in, well, ever, I wore a tee and denim cutoff shorts to work. To be honest, it was kind of life-changing. No need for crossed legs. No fear of a stray, skirt-furling gust of wind.

But can one actually wear shorts to the office?

Tom Ford, fashion tycoon, is firm in his stance when it comes to menswear. Simply, no. “A man should never wear shorts in the city…. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.” But I believe the answer – for men and women both – is far more subjective than that. Shorts can be office-appropriate. Read on for the nitty gritty.

Rule #1. Appropriate-for-work shorts are not appropriate for all places of work. 
Shorts may fly in creative or casual offices, or on casual Fridays. But if your typical office attire is a skirt and tucked button-down, or slacks and a tailored blazer, steer clear. If your job is client-facing, err on the safe side and avoid them.

Rule #2. Keep shorts the same length as the skirts you’d feel comfortable wearing to work.
Or longer. If you wouldn’t wear a mini to that 9AM meeting, don’t wear shorts of the same length. Period. Shorts that hit near the knee are your best bet.

Rule #3. Styles and fabrics must be polished.
No tie-dye, cutoffs, cargos, Daisy Dukes, acid wash… you get it. Look for fabrics like garbardine (a “dry clean only” standby) or cotton poplin and hems that are cleanly finished or cuffed.

Rule #4. Go modest with the rest of your outfit.
As a general rule, if you’re baring skin on the bottom, cover up on top. Think tailored blazers, crisp button-downs, and high-neck peplums. For shoes, stick to classic heels like pumps – and stay far away from flip-flops. Like those volunteer-day denim cutoffs, they’re best left at home.

By Joanna Berliner, Editor 

Would you wear shorts to work? To weigh in, tweet us at @ruelala. Like this week’s post? Check our The Fitting Room column every Monday

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The Denim Guide: Men's Edition