I have some strong opinions about fashion. Despite wearing the same monochromatic outfit to work nearly every day, I’m a fan of sartorial elegance, tailored suits, and yes, the occasional set of suspenders.
A perfect example of who can wear shorts on the job. Image credit: Pool/Getty
But here’s what I’m not a fan of: Men wearing shorts to work.
Shorts Aren’t Workwear
“But Patrick, shorts are fantastic!” you cry. Sure, but so is watching Gordon Ramsey tear a sous chef a new one on YouTube. That doesn’t mean you do it on the job. Context is key, and shorts at work ain’t exactly copacetic.
Shorts are a piece of clothing meant primarily for sport or leisure. Athletes? Los futbolistas usan pantalones cortos, for one. The obscenely rich? Try walking onto a yacht without pink shorts and boat shoes. Children? They are constantly clad in short pants, a consolation prize for not being able to reach daddy’s special juice from the top cabinet yet.
Shorts imply unprofessionalism the same way an adult nappy implies incontinence. If you don’t want to appear lazy on the job, don’t dress like you’re on holiday.
Having worked in offices with both strict and lax dress codes, I tend to dress up rather than dress down. There has been more than one occasion where looking more professional than not worked in my favour, whether that’s during my workday or after I’m out of the office. It’s harder to waltz into a private party when you only have 30cm of fabric between your shoes and your waist.
I asked Pete Anderson, writer for fashion blog Put This On, to make a case for the whole shorts-at-work phenomenon. He did suggest some situations where shorts might be appropriate, but he isn’t a fan of them. Still, arguments for shorts do exist. (See below.)
Cold Offices Require Pants
Your protest against pants could be viewed as an environmentally friendly way to reduce pollution by using less air conditioning. But really, how much cooler do you think you’ll end up by exposing your legs? And do you think your building manager cares about your misguided #FreeTheKnee crusade? Granted, using less air conditioning could save billions of dollars in energy costs, but wearing shorts won’t do much but force you to purchase a blanket.
If you’re concerned about the heat and think shorts are your only option, I’d like to introduce you to the lightweight pant. “You can wear light trousers and be fine, especially if most of the places you’ll be are air conditioned,” said Pete. Like denim jeans, not every pair of pants has the same fabric density. Lightweight pants are more breathable, and let you cool down a bit. It’s almost like they were invented to be worn during hot days.
Lightweight pants help you stay cool (and look cooler). Image credit: Antony Jones/Getty
Exception to the Rule (Sort Of): Chill Jobs
You might have a pretty chill work environment. Some companies encourage employees to wear whatever they want. In that case, shorts are probably inevitable. “I concede,” says Anderson, “that in a more casual and creative oriented field it’s less of a big deal.”
I will not concede! I’d say distractions in the form of shorts are the last thing I need at work, especially Trevor’s pair with the tiny anchors on it. It’s still an office environment, and despite the presence of a foosball table and two (two?!) company dogs, civility should be the primary motivating factor in how you interact with your coworkers. Do not use your knees to terrorise me.
Your social media team may have convinced the world your company is part of the Illuminati, but they haven’t convinced me I need to gaze upon their hairy shins and exposed, ashy ankles whenever they get up and grab some sparkling water.
Even if your office is super chill, you’ll find yourself interacting with third-party individuals as well as your coworkers. And whether it’s a client, customer or interviewee, how you portray yourself is paramount. You never know who you’ll run into, and running into someone important who can identify your underwear colour when you sit down isn’t ideal.
No. Image: Jack Taylor/Getty
In short, put your shorts away.