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Shorts for the office? The Wall Street Journal says yes (but I say no)

Categories: beyond 9 to 5, bottoms

8 comments

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This week, the Wall Street Journal is singing the praises of the shorts suit. “Traditionally, the word ’suit’ is a sad one for ladies, especially when uttered during the summer months,” writes Alexa Brazilian. “Conversely, shorts have always evoked ideas of vacation, heat and leisure. When brought together, they create an unexpected combination of crisp polish and playful sportiness that can be worn anywhere from the office to weekends in the country and formal evenings out.”

In other words, it’s time to get a shorts suit!

I’m not convinced that the shorts suit is a good investment, though, and it’s not just because the WSJ’s picks are all insanely expensive. ($1,040 for the “weekend getaway” shorts suit? Seriously??? How do you have any money left to spend on the getaway?) I like the idea of a jacket with shorts, but it’s not practical for summer, at least not where I live. It’s already hotter than the sun here, and it’s only mid-June.

When it’s this hot, finding work clothes that are both comfortable and appropriate can be tricky. But shorts aren’t the answer. Opt for a skirt or dress, or — if your office is air conditioned to the point where it feels like a meat locker — stick with pants and a summery top. Feel free to add a cardi or jacket for that super cold building. But leave the shorts for after work.

What about this idea that you can dress your shorts up for evening? “When paired with drop earrings, exotic feathered heels and a smart clutch,” the WSJ declares, “a posh patterned suit is ideal for an evening on the town.” But shorts and heels can be tough for the average middle American woman to pull off, particularly if she doesn’t have Blake Lively’s legs (and that would be most of us, honestly).

And it’s not like that “posh patterned suit” can do double duty as weekend wear — not unless the pattern is going to hide the dirt and sweat that a typical weekend with the kids entails. Shorts are perfect for the park and the pool and all the other places we go on our days off, but they need to be durable and affordable and machine washable. At least my shorts do.

A good pair of shorts is worth having, and once you’ve found them, it’s worth taking the time to figure out how to style them so you’ll look chic and pretty when you wear them. But think twice before you head to the office in your shorts, or pair them with sky-high heels, or spend more on them than you would on a dress for your sister’s wedding.

What say you — would you invest in a shorts suit? If so, where would you wear it? To the office, or for more casual outings?



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8 comments so far...

  • Our dress code strictly prohibits shorts in any form, so I wouldn’t even have the option of a shorts suit. We’re also not allowed to wear capris so those aren’t options either.

    I’m not a huge fan of shorts and find them to be more trouble than they’re worth. I’d much rather wear a great skirt!

    Come take a look inside A Working Mom’s Closet

    Melissa  |  June 16th, 2011 at 2:42 am

  • It’s a ridiculous idea.

    Sarah  |  June 16th, 2011 at 7:36 am

  • Thank you for being, as always, the voice of reason. I can only imagine the looks I’d get in my office if I walked in wearing a shorts suit.

    Kate  |  June 16th, 2011 at 8:01 am

  • I read the article yesterday and was similarly confused. My issue with shorts as work or dressy wear is that they are, by definition, casual. Adding a blazer or an expensive top doesn’t change the fact that your outfit is based on shorts. The look of your outfit depends on the most casual element. In other words, if you are wearing a blazer, shirt, and jeans to work you must be able to wear jeans. Likewise, if you are wearing a blazer, shirt and shorts to work, you must be able to wear shorts.

    Where are shorts appropriate in a professional setting?- Court? A hospital? A presentation? Client meeting? -No, no no. Never. However, I can see them (”work shorts”) being worn by an interior designer or similarly artistic field.

    Also, $1400 shorts!! Seriously.

    elz  |  June 16th, 2011 at 8:23 am

  • Look how skinny these women are. Seriously, look at their legs!

    Before you invest in a shorts suit, be sure that is would be considered work-appropriate where you work. Where I work, it definitely would not.

    Jenny  |  June 16th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

  • The “city shorts” trend a few years ago was okay for a casual day at the office, but shorts as a suit bottom - no way!

    Abbie Dahl  |  June 16th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

  • Way, way, way too much leg for an office, I can wear capris but don’t even wear those. A nice tailored pencil skirt is about much leg as I can show at the office.

    Don’t we have enough trouble being taken seriously as women without showing off our thighs? Could you see a a male Senior VP showing that kind of leg? TMI. :)

    Tina  |  June 17th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

  • LOL, no. First of all, the office I used to work in was always so dang cold, my hands would turn purple, and I kept a pair of gloves on hand even in the summer. Second, if it ever got hot enough for shorts, why would I want a jacket? Third, showing leg means having to worry about shaving and wearing pantyhose - I’d rather wear cool cotton pants. Fourth, I could accomplish all of the same benefits with a skirt, so why buy something I might possibly want to wear once in two years? Fifth, do we really want to go there? Because the next step is for the men to wear shorts, and - eeew.

    Also, four of the five women in that photo are dying of starvation. If I were that skinny, I wouldn’t dare show my thighs.

    SKL  |  June 19th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

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