The Great Debate: Should Shorts Be Worn in the Office?

Joe Nafziger // Sep 24 // Insights

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Yes.

Joe Nafziger, Associate Creative Director

Shorts are an American Right of Comfort. As long as your work's dress code allows for it, wear them freely. Many women sport dresses, shorts and sandals year round, especially in San Diego. It baffles me when an eye is raised at a man wearing shorts to the office on a hot summer day. All people should enjoy the soothing touch of circulating air.

Undoubtedly, there's a time and place for shorts. Meeting with customers is not one of them. I recommend keeping a pair of DeskJeans™ on hand. DeskJeans are exactly what you think they are: an extra pair of pants stored next to the bag of almonds in your desk drawer. Surprise visit by clients? Don some DeskJeans, dude. Filling in for someone on a presentation? Grab those DeskJeans, sister friend.

Wearing comfortable clothing increases physical activity during the workday. Even the American Council on Exercise supports wearing shorts. Seated desk jobs are already so stagnant, any increased movement is welcomed by your body. Really, why do we care so much about work attire? Let's pay attention to the job at hand, not the cubicle runway. Wear what you want within reason—having shins exposed is within reason. There's nothing wrong with wearing tasteful shorts in the office under the right circumstances.

Do the right thing: support physical activity, personal comfort and the right to bare legs.

No.

Lauren Winget, Reputation Coordinator

Clothing tells a story to the world, it paints a picture of you as a professional. Are you a badass powerful advertising exec poised to conquer the world, or did you just come from a drunken afternoon on the back nine? Because that is the only place shorts belong—in your weekend wardrobe. Simply put, shorts are unprofessional for both men and women. While I am a leading advocate of office fashion and testing your personal style boundaries, shorts in the office signify a blatant lack of respect for your job and your fellow coworkers.

Casual working environments have become evermore popular, like us at i.d.e.a., yet shorts have remained a distraction, and are consistently proven time and time again to be an HR nightmare. What starts as a classic bermuda short quickly dissolves into fashion chaos. Office environments have tried and failed at the short experiment, and with the advent of modern fabric technologies, lightweight wools and polyester blends means that you can in fact stay cool in trousers and pants without bringing shorts into the equation.

Ellen Kossek, a professor at Purdue University specializing in work-life issues states that “people have physical cues that they use to feel like they're at work, and wearing shorts make one physically feel like you aren’t at work or in work mode.” Creating these role confusions are not productive to any working environment, period.

And while it may seem that women are able to “get away” with skirts and dresses, a pencil skirt or shift dress is by no means similar to a pair of shorts. These classic pieces have been in a women’s dress code long before pants ever were, and are tailored and constructed to belong in the office environment.

To end this once and for all: Tom Ford, king of fashion, thinks men should never, ever wear shorts.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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