Should you wear shorts to the office?

Yes, you can wear shorts to the office. The question is: should you?

Oh, the eternal summer style quandary. Can you wear shorts to the office?  So hotly debated is this issue, and so elusive is a solution to the question, many style writers have expired out of sheer frustration. It’s tragic, but true. (It’s not).

Nevertheless, you take my point. Men seem to worry about this every summer, and every summer opinion is divided. As it happens, I have no strong feelings. As with all things menswear, the answer lies entirely on your context.

‘I’d even go so far as to wager that a pair of featherweight linen trousers is more comfortable than shorts’

Office dress codes have taken a pounding in recent months, and the answer to whether you can wear shorts should be self-explanatory to any man with a modicum of common sense. If you work in a corporate bank, don’t rock up to the trading floor in hot-pink Hawaiian-print Bermudas. If you’re a human rights lawyer, your clients probably won’t appreciate a pair of knobbly knees poking out beneath khaki cargo shorts. If, however, you’re a hot-stuff designer at a hip East End creative agency, and, frankly, your peers don’t care if you turn up in a binbag as long as you bring your A-game to work, then by all means pull on some shorts.

But, before you do, consider this. The real question to ask isn’t can you wear shorts to work? No, it’s should you?

As with sharply pressed tailored trousers or washed-out chinos, the decision to wear shorts does say something about you. In some environments, it might help to get across your image as a cool, quirky creative. In others, it’ll make you look less professional than is advisable. So, perhaps it’s better to provide those of you who simply can’t wear shorts to the office – no matter how hot it is outside – with a solution.

I know most of you will think I’m mad for saying this, but there really is no need to wear shorts at all if you choose your trousers wisely. I went to a music festival (I have been known to attend such events) and spent the entire day perfectly comfortable in a pair of Scott Fraser Collection wide-leg trousers in a cooling blend of linen and cotton. The clue is in the fabric; an open-weave, lightweight, breezy material will breathe in the heat and keep you feeling fresh no matter the temperature. I’d even go so far as to wager that a pair of featherweight linen trousers is more comfortable than shorts cut in dense, unforgiving cotton drill. And while linen trousers do crease, a smartly fitted pair finished with turn-ups will look more polished at work than shorts ever could.

If you are determined to get into shorts, the key thing to remember is that tailored shorts are in – the sharper-looking the better. Avoid cargo shorts or anything with a print like the plague – nothing says ‘mid-life crisis’ more loudly. Instead, choose an above-the-knee-length pair with pleats and finish with a neat woven leather or suede belt. Also, please do tuck in your shirt – there’s no point wearing smart shorts and letting your shirt hang out.

Good luck should you choose to take the plunge and show off your knees, and good on you if you heed this advice and wear linen trousers instead. After all, boys wear shorts, men wear trousers.

Aleks Cvetokovic is The Jackal‘s style columnist, as well as being genuphobic