The Tailored Short – Office wear or beach wear?

That Dapper Chap explores the concept of the tailored short as office wear and gives us some do’s and don’ts.

It’s a debate which splits opinion, should guys be able to wear shorts to the office? Men argue that as the weather gets warmer that the ladies have more options available to them, and that what they do have available is more acceptable within the office environment. In short (no pun intended) they are jealous.

The short suit. Tailored and expertly accessorised


The whole smart casual thing has never sat well with me. It could work, but it’s a case of ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’. The minute you say ‘smart casual’ a lot of guys see it as an opportunity to dress like they’re about to go and fix up the garden. Faded jeans with torn hems and a polo shirt is not ‘smart’ by any stretch of anyones deluded imagination, even if “it does have a collar” Grrrrrrr.

Every summer I hear the same groans “I wish we could wear shorts” Why? Does the air conditioning not keep you cool enough at your desk? Are your legs that great that they must be shown to the world? Do summer cotton or linen trousers not combat the incredibly average summer temperatures that we experience for the two days of summer we have here in the UK? Come on guys, we’re not that close to the equator! 

It’s all down to the fact that the majority of men have little desire to make an effort to look good, dress smartly and evoke an image of professionalism.

A tailored suit with a crisp white shirt and tie. Getting it right.


Having said all this I do own and I do wear tailored shorts. I much prefer these to the standard nylon, drawstring sports shorts that ‘grace’ our streets as soon as the temperature rises above ten degrees, and burst into flames the second they meet a naked flame. Sports shorts should be kept for, you guessed it, SPORT. If you don’t do sport, don’t wear them! Have some self respect.

Me in my pink tailored shorts, floral shirt and brogues


A friend and colleague approached me recently and asked if I’d seen an article in a local newspaper. His wry smile made it clear that I needed to take a look. Upon seeing the piece my immediate thought was that it was a joke, honestly, but reading on I realised that it was a serious piece, and I admit to be taken aback by the images that went with the it. Prepare yourself!

The article, like this, is about the possibility of wearing tailored shorts for work. Great. Lets debate, lets discuss our opinions and reasoning, lets agree to disagree if we have to. But one thing that I will NOT agree on is how they have attempted to present a positive example of how this look should be styled. Are you ready? Grab a cushion to hide behind as it’s a real horror show!

The gents in their tailored shorts. Image property of EADT

A closer look at the shorts. Image property of EADT

The first thing I want to say now is that the shorts themselves are great! Great colours and great cuts. I like them and would wear them. the shorts are not the problem here.

In the article, found HERE, it states that the stylist in the store where they embarked on their fashion faux pas, questioned not only their credibility but also their shoes! I’m not surprised! He is clearly a gentleman of taste. Shoes aside (which, yes, I do have major issues with) it’s the socks that make me want to pluck out my eyes with a blunt pencil. What is it about British guys and their bloody socks!? We(British men)have been ridiculed for years about our decidedly dogmatic approach to frightful footwear, particularly the tendency to wear socks and sandals. The above styling is just one step (a really really small step) away from that! Don’t ask me what that’s all about, I have no idea!

Office appropriate, stylish and sockless. Another example of how to get it right

Losing the socks may go some way to making the look more acceptable to me, but we also have the braces issue (yes, for me it’s an issue) Again, I like and do wear braces, button on of course. Maybe it was a sartorial challenge, a concept testing and boundary breaking approach that they were after. On the other hand maybe it was just four blokes messing around in a clothing store, like kids at the dressing up box. 

It doesn’t work. If I’m wrong, please tell me. leave a comment below. I don’t claim to know everything, or that I am right all of the time. Sometimes I get it wrong, but when I do I certainly won’t post pictures of it in a daily newspaper. Slow news day? maybe?

Another example of how this look works really well


There are few fundamental rules (or suggestions) that I’d like to bring your attention to when opting for an office appropriate look with shorts. Firstly, don’t wear socks and please, please don’t wear rubber based slip on shoes or anything that fastens with velcro like the guys from my local rag! Go for a soft leather brogue or a loafer. Both are very classic styles and lend themselves really well to a smart look with shorts.

Great use of colour and perfect for the office

A belt will make the look smarter, add detail and negate the need for braces. Braces and shorts are not a good combination and you run the risk of being split in two and offending passersby with an unsightly and ugly bulging camel toe. Trousers offer some traction at the knee and calf to prevent them sliding up too badly. Shorts don’t. Beware.

Shorts, blazer, belt and brogues and great combination

The light coloured jacket gives a real summery look

Two dapper gents, perfectly attired in their shorts

A great use of bold colour, making a statement

Another dapper summer look


Nick bateman looking great in this beige summer short suit and bow tie

A well fitted shirt will work wonders, long sleeved and well ironed in a poly cotton mix to keep the look professional. A tie will look great but keep it on trend, maybe knitted and square ended. Maybe something with a preppy feel. Think Ralph Lauren.

I wouldn’t be tempted to wear a waistcoat with shorts, as like the braces it’s just wont compliment the look. However, a matching jacket or smart sports coat, like the one below will. 

Perfect for the summer and smart enough for the office

The short suit, available from Next

Next are currently offering a few suits where you are able to buy the jacket, trousers and shorts all to match, this is a great option. The navy textured short suit above is available HERE for £105

The light stone, cotton suit below is also available in four pieces, trousers, jacket, waistcoat and shorts so you can mix and match at will. Check it out HERE

The stone cotton jacket from Next

The matching stone cotton shorts, from Next

So, it can be done and it can be done well. While you’ve never see me walking in to the office wearing shorts I won’t hold it against you if you do, especially if you do it well. If however you wear horrid shoes, black socks and clip on braces with a dreadful tie, don’t ever expect me to speak to you again!



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