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Can Shorts Be Business Casual? If So, What Types?

Shorts are excellent not only for casual wear, but also for business casual dress. I'll show you what kinds of shorts you can wear for a business casual style, as well as how to wear them.

A man sitting handsomely wearing brown shirt and white casual shorts.

When you look at shorts, you may instantly think they are something quite informal; something that you might wear at the beach or for outdoor sports, or when simply chilling with friends. However, shorts are not just appropriate for casual wear; they may also be worn for business casual attire. Here, I will show you what types of shorts you can wear for a business casual look and how to wear them.

What Shorts can be Business Casual?

Generally speaking, the most appropriate shorts for a business casual style are those that are simple and uncluttered. They shouldn’t have a lot of saggy pockets as this might make you look unprofessional. Basically, you should never go for cargo shorts or Bermuda shorts if you want to achieve a business casual appearance, and the same goes for jogging shorts, too.

They’re just not acceptable for this kind of look. Instead, put on a pair of well-ironed chino or linen shorts. Wear your shorts in the same colors and patterns that you would regularly wear to work.

The key to business casual attire is to present yourself as professionally as you would on any other day. Although business casual shorts are a great option, there are a few things to consider when you go for this look.

How to Wear Business Casual Shorts

A stylish handsome man sitting with balck shorts and brown shirt.

If you have a major conference during the day or a meeting with customers, your employers, or suppliers, I would suggest you forget about wearing shorts altogether. Instead, stick to traditional professional business casual looks, such as formal pants, a T-shirt, and a nice blazer. Save the shorts for a day when you want to relax and are not troubled with meetings or too many formal tasks.

Choose Nice Shorts

The primary reason why shorts are prohibited from the office is that they’re considered too casual and might be seen as unprofessional. This is true to some extent, but it depends on the kind of shorts you are wearing and what type of clothing you pair them with. 

Opt for fitted shorts that are well-tailored as opposed to baggy or even short shorts. Leave out the cargo shorts and make sure the length is slightly above your knees. 

Put on a Decent Pair of Shoes

A brown men loafers shoes in wooden background.

If you’re wearing shorts, go for a pair of stylish shoes. There are several kinds of shoes you may choose to complement your business look including monk straps, dress boots, loafers, oxford shoes as well as brogues, and wingtips among others. 

If you are not sure about the kind of shoes to wear, you may Google the best shoes to wear with shorts. Wearing flip-flops is not appropriate since you are heading to the workplace, and sandals should be avoided unless your company is extremely carefree or you don’t mind your showing your toenails to everyone at your workplace.

Put On the Right Shirt

If you want to achieve a business casual outfit with your shorts, avoid t-shirts and performance polo shirts. Short-sleeved shirts should also be avoided at all costs unless you wish to be mistaken for a scout leader.  The right shirts to pair your shorts with are button-down shirts.

Make sure they are not made from heavy fabric. Light cotton or linen shirts are the best options and make sure to roll up the sleeves to complete the look. Keep in mind that you will have to stick to the colors and patterns that you normally wear to work. Instead of wearing your shorts with a T-shirt, consider a collared shirt instead to help boost the business casual look.

To truly dress it up, make sure to add a blazer or a light cardigan to your outfit. Moreover, a collared shirt is the most recommended option when wearing shorts in a professional setting. If you’re considering wearing a polo shirt with your shorts, I would suggest you leave that for when you are relaxing at home.

Consider Untucking the Shirt

A not tuck shirt in the pants.

Another way to make your shorts look more professional is to untuck them. Yes, you saw that right; this is one of the few times you can actually get away with untucking. If you’re wearing an undershirt, make sure to untuck it as well. However, you need to make sure that the undershirt isn’t long enough to dangle below the shirt you are wearing because that will not look good at all.

Tucking in your shirt is not essentially a bad thing. It is entirely up to you whether or not you tuck your shirt, and most times, untucking can give you a debonair air of cool. But as always, you are free to explore and choose whatever works for you. 

Keep Prints and Patterns to a Minimum

The shorts you choose must be solid or in a dark hue. Steer clear of loud patterns and prints in general. Remember you are not going to the beach. Prints suits can look stylish if done artistically, but with shorts, I recommend you keep things simple and basic. 

What to Avoid in a Business Casual Look With Shorts 

Despite the fact that a business casual dress code may be an opportunity to explore yourself freely, you must ensure that they are not in violation of any company policies. The following are examples of business casual articles of clothing that you should avoid:

  • Ripped shorts
  • Sandals and flip flops
  • Scuffed and battered shoes
  • T-shirts with stains
  • Clothes emblazoned with obscene text or pictures