Sometimes it gets hot. Whether you're in the height of the summer season or you live in the desert or a humid wetland, trying to figure out what to wear is difficult enough. When you're a professional and have to attend events with clients, there's an extra layer of complexity. How can you stay cool while still looking competent? If we're talking business casual in a hot climate, shorts might just be your answer! Just remember, no cut-off jeans, and make sure your shorts are long enough. Here are situations where shorts can be business casual as well as business casual outfits with shorts for both ladies and gentlemen.
When you attend some kind of business event in the sand, or you have a meeting during a yacht excursion, it just makes sense to dress the part. After all, if you wore a full suit, you would probably look a little odd. Using shorts as a casual option can work really well here, provided they're paired with something else formal, so you still look like the authority you are.
For the ladies, an easy way to choose your shorts style and be sure it's business casual is to picture what your work trousers would look like cut and hemmed as women's shorts, and voila! These kinds of rises and cuts already look good on you, and you have the light blouse tops, well-fitted belts, and dainty shoes needed to match. You might be able to wear sandals, but since shorts are so casual in the first place, it might be better to go with some form of closed-toed flats or breathable boat shoes. If you do decide to wear sandals, make sure your feet are clean and moisturized—maybe even go for a pedicure; the point is, you want your feet to look nice since eyes will be on them.
For the gentlemen, light-colored linen shorts or well-made cotton shorts are the way to go. Pay attention to how they fit you since a poor fit will definitely bring down your outfit. Your shorts should end above your knee, but no more than three or four inches above. Pair them with a men's button-down shirt with a collar to help formalize your outfit a little bit. You can either do a short-sleeved collared shirt or a long-sleeved one with the sleeves rolled up to your elbow. Flip-flops might fly if you are in California, but your outfit will likely be better served with boat shoes or driving moccasins.
Some people work in a creative industry. Some offices are just casual. Others have shorts as a part of their uniforms while certain people work for shorts companies. If you're in fashion, entertainment, or another artsy-type sphere, you are likely already encouraged to strut your style. Shorts would just be another way to do so. If shorts are a part of the uniform or if you're representing a shorts company and wondering whether you can go with shorts... the answer should be obvious. Finally, if you work at a non-profit organization or a startup company, or if your place of business rocks jeans and sneakers on a regular day, shorts are probably fine. Still, a good rule of thumb is to follow the formality level of your boss, manager, or immediate supervisor. If you're ever in doubt, or you feel the style of your higher-up is not the kind you want to emulate, go for outfits that are more formal, not less.
In terms of making outfits, women have it a little easier than men here. Styling a pair of shorts is similar to styling a skirt in terms of body proportions and color and pattern matching. In general, solid colors are a bit more formal so you will want to take advantage of that to raise the level of your shorts outfit. Monochrome combinations of white, black, or gray are the most formal. These colors also make a lot of sense with a casual women's blazer if you have one handy. If you want more colors, white shorts with a light-colored pink, green or blue women's blouse will match well. Want to go for a bolder top? Maybe in a daring pattern? This can work as well; just add a cardigan for more coverage and to reduce the loudness of your blouse, or cover it completely if you feel you need to. Closed-toed shoes to finish your outfit are highly recommended.
For the gentlemen, most men's clothes come in neutrals which makes things easier since neutrals are the most formal. The same basic combination remains: well-fitting men's shorts in a nice material with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. Matching monochrome colors are easy for most people. White or khaki shorts with a navy blue or muted sage green shirt are great starting points for getting a little color in there.
Now that you know when you can wear shorts to work and you have some outfit ideas to get you started, wear those shorts with confidence!