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Dress for Success: Shorts at the Office

Are shorts ever appropriate at the office?

By Rebecca Pattee at MSN Living Apr 14, 2009 11:15PM

Even though I work in an extremely casual environment, I still think there are certain items of clothing that should never be worn to the office. Daisy Duke shorts are a prime example. If you dare to wear these, you’ll instantly attract the wrong kind of attention, particularly from upper management.

The other day at work, I walked by a woman who looked like she belonged on the beach in Cancún rather than in the office: She was wearing flip-flops, a tank top and tiny shorts. While this woman has a model-caliber figure and probably wanted to take full advantage of a rare sunny day in Seattle, she certainly attracted the attention of my co-workers. Just not the kind you want to get while on the job.

If you want to stay cool and still look professional in the summer, Bermuda shorts are a great alternative. These knee-length shorts will take you from the park to work to happy hour and everywhere in between. Try pairing them with tasteful heels, a lightweight blouse and either a cardigan or a blazer.

Here's an example of what you don't want to wear to work:

Roxy Shorts at Zappos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Roxy All 4 U Denim Shorts, $42.50 at Zappos 

 

Here's an example of a work-appropriate outfit:

J. Crew Bermuda shorts; Photo: J. Crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: J. Crew Bermuda shorts, $58 at jcrew.com. 

 

What do you think? Are shorts ever appropriate in the workplace?

107Comments
Apr 22, 2009 6:22PM
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if its something you would wear at HOME to feel comfortable--then wear it at HOME.  Yes, its comfy to wear (short) shorts/tanks at home/beach, but not at an office. That is a seperate environment....
Apr 22, 2009 6:15PM
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OK thundra, we get that you are a ****, let it go now. (just for clarification that word is not a dirty word even if the program thinks it is, I guess I could have said "over imaginative man" but that would have been silly)
Apr 22, 2009 6:14PM
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Ok, who are you people that would wear shorts and stockings with heels? Tights with shorts? Come on. Shorts = summer. Summer = no tights. I think people who wear shorts and hose look ridiculous. You lose any coolin benefit from the shorts when you're wrapped in plastic from the waist down. In MN, we'd laugh at you.
Apr 22, 2009 6:14PM
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YOU KNOW IF A MAN PANTS ARE OPEN A 1" OH HOW WRONG THAT IS  ,WHAT A JOKE
Apr 22, 2009 6:11PM
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I LET GIRLS WEAR SHORT SHORTS IN MY PLACE ,I LOOK TO SEE WHAT I CAN SEE ,MAYBE BE LUCKY SOME DAY ,THERE IN THE 20/ AN AT AGE
Apr 22, 2009 6:10PM
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I think those of us who are in our 20's and 30's in the software development field find it perfectly normal to wear whatever you want to work. In fact, the top IT talent requires this type of atmosphere to even consider working for your company.  Most IT talent has no interest in entering the office.  There is really no reason anymore, everything can be accomplished via wireless technology.  You bankers can keep your stuffy out of touch atmosphere and traditions on Wall St. and keep it out of the tech sector.  We love our casual fast paced ever changing crazy anything goes work environment!
Apr 22, 2009 6:08PM
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A few years back we had a style of shorts called"city shorts". They were stylish and attractive as well as practical. The people who opt to wear inappropriate clothing to work will do so whether it is shorts, low-cut tops, stiletto heels, etc. I personally would love to wear a neat pair of shorts to work--I work in a medical office. Besides, I live in Phoenix and 110 degrees is nothing!
Apr 22, 2009 6:04PM
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Rain84, the reason everybody dresses down is they all feel they are rebelling against the "man". I think when you go to a professional, you want them to look the part. If you go to buy a surfboard you want the employee to look like a surfer. You can dress down without looking like you just woke up from sleeping in your car. But I can remember a job I had at an airport parking facility where I could over hear the cashiers speaking to the customers. It was amazing to me that the customers would argue with the cashiers, but when I showed up in my buttoned down shirt and tie, the customer would except the same info from me. People do respond to how you dress, whether we like it or not. I have refused to interview people who show up in cut offs and halter tops. But clean jeans and a shirt are fine. Of course, we could all prove how individual we are and dress Goth...that would show the man.
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