Can Shorts Be Business Casual At a Workplace?

Are Shorts Business Casual?

Finding the right clothes to wear to the office during the summer can be a challenge. What you lounge around in at home or choose on the weekends isn’t usually appropriate for work. Many companies have a dress code everyone must adhere to, which is typically more dressed up and professional than your everyday wardrobe. So choosing the right clothes for summer can be a challenge. You want to be comfortable, but you also want to be modest and work-appropriate.

Knowing what types of warm-weather attire you can wear is the first step to building your summer office wardrobe. Shorts are synonymous with summer, and your first question is probably whether they’re work-appropriate or not. This article answers that question and shares tips to build the perfect business casual outfit with shorts.

Business Casual

With so many types of work environments and constantly-changing definitions of work-appropriate, it’s hard to know what’s business casual. Every company has different standards, so it might not be clear what you can wear. On top of that, shorts were on the ‘don’t’ list for business casual dress codes for a long time. But in recent years, things have started to change as more businesses switch to smart-casual and even relaxed guidelines.

Now, it’s more common to see women and men wearing shorts in professional environments, and when it’s done right, it can look just as professional as slacks. Choosing the right length and style is essential for making shorts a part of a business casual outfit. But the type of shorts you wear isn’t the only thing to look at. What you wear them with counts, too, so it’s essential to style your look correctly. Luckily, creating the right business casual summer outfit with shorts is easy. Just follow these tips.

How to Wear Shorts to Work

The length of the shorts is the number one factor to consider when keeping shorts business casual. Choosing the right inseam length is the difference between women’s shorts being work-appropriate or not. The best way to get the length right is to get a pair that falls between 1 and 3 inches above the knee. Shorts between 9 and 12 inches long should be perfectly fine to wear at work.

Men’s shorts can also be considered too short, long, or casual. So it’s just as important to pay attention to these details too. A 9” inseam is a good starting point for men’s shorts, and 10” shorts are also acceptable, but anything longer or shorter wouldn’t be business casual. The style is another thing to select wisely for men. Men’s cargo shorts and deck shorts are not good options for work, so it’s best to choose more minimal, structured styles.

The type and quality of the fabric of your shorts are something else to consider. Denim can be either dressed up or too casual. To keep denim shorts work-friendly, go with a darker wash, and avoid distressed looks. Bike shorts or women’s athletic shorts aren’t a good choice either. Even if they’re a solid color and not too short, the material and style are too casual.

Here are some options that are perfect for the office:

Bermuda Shorts

Women’s Bermuda shorts are ideal for going to the office during the summer. They are knee-length shorts that come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and materials. It’s a great business casual option that’s still professional. Bermuda shorts work well with flowy short-sleeved blouses and strappy leather sandals. Add a blazer for a chic way to dress your look up or down in a snap.

Chino Shorts

Both men’s and women’s chino shorts are great options for a summertime business casual wardrobe. They have a professional touch and can be worn anywhere from the office to the park. For women, a crisp pair of khaki chinos with an airy button-down linen shirt is a classic look that is fabulous, no matter what. Or you can spread the summertime vibes with a beautiful candy-colored pastel pair. Balance the outfit with a comfy denim jacket and a floral patterned blouse.

Combine a pair of dark navy chino shorts with a plaid long-sleeve button-down for men. Balance it out by rolling up your sleeves a little. Finally, top it off with a casual pair of leather loafers. This is a classic business summertime outfit perfect for the office. You can also pair your chino shorts with a comfy polo shirt for a professional yet casual look. Shorts aren’t always business casual, but when you choose the right pair and style them correctly, they’ll be the perfect addition to your summertime work wardrobe.


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