Men in shorts – for work?

posted in: Style advice | 6

OK. It’s been really, really hot in London. Today it was 30 degrees. Is it ever OK for men to wear shorts to work?

In my opinion men certainly can go to work in shorts, but they need to be careful of appearing too casual and weekendy when wearing shorter trousers. I think is important to be a bit more formal with shorts to avoid that under-dressed, slightly unprofessional look.  Here is what I suggest:

  1. tailored shorts – tailored pockets, a proper waist band and belt carriers.
  2. decent fabrics like lightweight wool, linen, or a heavier weight cotton
  3. work colours such as navy, grey, beige, brown, camel or black
  4. knee-length
  5. not tight
  6. worn with a complementary shirt that would usually be tucked in
  7. a nice leather belt
  8. semi formal shoes (not sportswear)
  9. no socks

Let’s have a look at what cropped up at Notting Hill Housing this week. Here is Andy Lord, one of our senior Asset Managers – he looks after our homes. His shirt is fine, and the shape and length of the shorts work well, I think. Personally I would have tucked the shirt in, and worn a nice belt, perhaps picking up the red, navy or white from the shirt. But I think he should have gone with better shoes. Maybe black or navy sandals, navy suede loafers or even those kind of boating shoes?

Man wearing shorts to work with Converse shoes
Andy Lord (Asset Management) in his shorts

Soon after photographing Andy I bumped into Nick Mawley who is our corporate designer. He is a creative Kiwi, but I am not sure that he has got the look quite right. While the shorts and shoes are certainly acceptable, and the trainer socks in a narrow stripe are spot on, what the outfit is crying out for is a nice button-down shirt that ties the blue shoes and navy shorts together. Maybe a stripe including grey, navy and muted blue? Or a white, short sleeved linen shirt, tucked in, and a navy or mid-blue blue belt. Or a chambray shirt with the sleeves carefully folded up and a brown belt. I don’t think wearing a branded, creased up T shirt is doing a lot for this good-looking man.

Nick Mawley (Communications) in shorts
Nick Mawley (Communications) in shorts

My third photo is of Ashley Beaton, who is a manager in our temporary housing Home Options business. Ashley is very tall (6’4″ I think) and was my PA until June. Here he is at a friend’s wedding. His jacket and shorts are not a suit, but they are a similar shade. The white shirt sets off the beige, and he wears a pair of neutral pumps. Bravo – Ashley nails it!  This is the sort of look that would make shorts an acceptable look for men to wear in warm weather.


6 Responses

  1. @TheSohoMod

    Kate some well made points. English men are not so good at formal summer wear. I had my shorts on yesterday. Mine were beige cargo shorts, with a white Fred Perry polo shirt and white boating shoes. Possibly a little too weekendy? But I think that is the least of our problems. Too many men revert to sports wear in the summer. Trainers, football tops, baggy training shorts. None of this fits with my mod driven clean lines and simple colours. I would urge blokes to try a light cotton patterned shirt unbuttoned at the top chino shorts or cargo shorts. Footwear deck shoes, or I sometimes wear desert boots with trainer socks you can’t see. Come on chaps show some flare. Footy shirts are for match days! @TheSohoMod

  2. Kbenco

    Well, I may be an old fuddy duddy, but I live in the subtropics, and in my opinon, in the professions it is not appropriate for men nor women to wear shorts to work. Cope with casual cotton or tropical wool, or linen trousers in my opinion! Do clients really want to see legs? No, they want to see you suffer in work clothes so that they can feel superiorly comfortable!
    Of course if you have to go outside a lot, maybe you can get away with shorts at work. Note, I do live in the country, and we tend to be more conservative here….. Some of your example models look quite smart.

  3. fabrickated

    I am not sure I would have said that shorts are OK a few years ago, or if we were based outside London Kbenco. In the UK we don’t have much experience of sunshine so you will see us in our underwear in parks, or with drop top cars, if there is as much as a glimmer of hot weather. I guess shorts are so infrequent that many of us have no idea how to wear them, so I was just suggesting a way of making them more acceptable at work!

  4. Cedi Frederick

    I totally agree with your ‘rules for shorts’ Kate, but…it’s all about the shoes! Most guys (me included!) wear shoes that are scuffed, tired and have worn down heels cuase they’re comfy, but they look awful when not hidden by long trousers! I guess it also helps if the guy’s in good shape!

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