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The great debate: Are shorts acceptable work attire?

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The evolution of men’s workplace attire has been significant, shifting dramatically from the stiff, formal ensembles of the early 20th century to the diverse expressions of professionalism we observe today. Historically, suits, ties, and polished shoes were the undisputed staples for men, embodying a culture of formality and strict corporate decorum. This traditional style was not just a fashion choice, but a representation of professionalism, discipline, and respect within the workplace. However, with the rise of the tech industry and the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley in the late 20th century, a transformation was ignited. Tech moguls, clad in casual wear, reshaped the narrative, proving that innovation and success were not tethered to the conventional attire of yesteryears. This seismic shift spawned a more relaxed, versatile, and inclusive approach to professional dressing, marking the inception of an era where comfort and individual expression gained prominence in the workplace.

Despite the extreme evolution in workplace attire, one question in particular still divides: is it okay to wear shorts to work? As the lines between professional and casual wear become increasingly blurred, particularly in creative and tech industries, we delve into the arguments on both sides to offer a comprehensive look at this contemporary dilemma.

The case for shorts

Comfort and Productivity

One of the strongest arguments for wearing shorts to work is comfort. People often perform better when they’re comfortable, and for many, shorts provide a level of ease that can boost productivity, particularly during the warmer months. Startups and tech giants alike have embraced a more relaxed dress code, acknowledging that comfort can lead to enhanced creativity and innovation. 

Modern Workplace Culture

As workplace cultures evolve, so does attire. Companies that promote a relaxed, inclusive, and diverse environment often have dress codes reflecting these values. Wearing shorts can be a part of fostering a modern, progressive workplace where the focus is on results and performance, not appearances.

The case against shorts


On the flip side, there’s a longstanding belief associating professional attire with respect and discipline. Traditional sectors like finance, law, and corporate businesses often require formal dress codes to maintain a sense of professionalism. In such environments, wearing shorts can be seen as a disregard for workplace norms and standards.

First Impressions

Whether we like it or not, clothing significantly impacts the often quoted “7 seconds to make a first impression”. In client-facing roles, wearing shorts may potentially affect a client’s perception of the employee and, by extension, the company. In a Forbes article, it’s noted that these 7 seconds are crucial in settings like pitches to investors, where appearance and demeanour can immediately impact perceptions of trustworthiness and competence, underscoring the importance of instant impact.

Before you don the shorts…

Company Policy

Employees should consult their company’s dress code policy. Policies vary greatly, and it’s essential to adhere to the established guidelines to maintain workplace harmony and professionalism. If you are still unsure, speak to your manager or HR representative to get the clarity you need.

Industry Norms

Consider the norms within your specific industry. Creative fields tend to be more lenient, while traditional sectors maintain strict dress codes. Assessing industry standards can offer clarity and direction.

Client Interactions

For those in client-facing roles, considering the expectations and preferences of the clients you’ll be interacting with is critical. A more formal attire might be necessary to uphold the company's image and client confidence.

As workplaces and attitudes towards professional attire continue to evolve, the acceptability of wearing shorts to work remains a nuanced issue. It hinges on various factors, including company policy, industry norms, and the nature of specific roles within the organisation.

At FutureYou, we understand that each workplace is unique, and finding the right fit – in both culture and attire – is essential. Whether you’re an employer looking to build a team or a professional seeking your next opportunity, FutureYou is dedicated to connecting exceptional people with exceptional companies, ensuring a perfect fit every time.

For personalised advice or more information, feel free to contact us. Your future, our focus.

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