There's one summer dress code rule you should never break, even if your office is really casual

Shorts at workShutterstockMen wearing shorts at work don’t look serious.

Men often wonder if they can “get away” with wearing shorts to work when it’s hot outside.

The use of that phrase, however, belies the in the inherent taboo in what you’re doing. It means you know wearing shorts at work shouldn’t be done, but you want to do it anyway.

“If I wear shorts, will someone at work say something?” is what they’re really thinking. “Will I be committing a major faux pas, or will people forget the next day?”

The truth is there’s no way to “get away” with wearing shorts at the office. The reason why you shouldn’t wear shorts to work isn’t because your boss will get mad, but because you’ll be putting yourself at a professional disadvantage.

The reason why it’s so important to dress for the office is a psychological one: It gives you confidence.

As menswear expert G. Bryce Boyer writes in his book “True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear: “Appropriate dress frees us from the anxieties and liabilities of sending negative and confusing messages.”

Wearing appropriate dress puts you in a state of mind to worry about more important things. Improving your confidence can actually have an effect on your performance at work, leaving you less worried about whether your shorts are appropriate and more concerned with serving your clients, colleagues, and managers.

Studies have shown that dressing appropriately and more formally for work has tangible benefits in the real world, and it can even make you more successful in the long run. Not wearing shorts at work certainly falls in this category.

You should also consider the laid-back vibe you’re giving off in the office. Think about it: all else being equal, who is the promotion going to go to — the guy who wears a pressed button-up and khakis every day, or the guy who decides everyone in the office needs to see his pale legs every time the mercury rises? Essentially, it’s hard to take men who wear shorts at work seriously. Dress for the job you want, as the old saying goes.

There are alternatives if you don’t want to roast all summer in your work clothes. A pair of lightweight chinos or dress pants in a summer-friendly colour are exactly what you need to look both appropriate and cool for the hottest months of the year.

So can you “get away” with wearing shorts to work? Sure — if you don’t care about your career.

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