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The general attire for my workplace is a shirt and trousers (no tie, although some people do). On Fridays, it is a bit of a "dress down" day where some people choose to wear a T-shirt and jeans.

Would it unprofessional to wear shorts to work? I'm not talking about sports WWE kind of shorts, suitable smart shorts? No one else at work has worn shorts so I cannot base it off that.

My workplace doesn't seem to have a dress code (I've never seen one anyway) so if I or someone else was to wear shorts they couldn't argue that it was against the dress code.

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    I worked with a guy from the California coast that didn't even own long pants. We bought him a pair when we went to see a conservative client. – Hilmar Jul 4 at 16:48
  • Where are you located and what is the nature of your work? – Jay Jul 4 at 17:29
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    If you want to be the first / only person to do something, that will always be a risk. How it will be received would be really hard for us to predict. You're probably in a better position to predict this, based on your knowledge of the company and culture. Although it is quite a leap from a formal shirt and trousers to shorts. – Dukeling Jul 4 at 18:05
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There is a separate risk to be aware of in the context of work on software or hardware, independent of following a dress code.

I describe it here as an anecdote because I have actually seen it happening.

We had to install our software on the customers system. It was a conservative customer, like a bank. And a hot day. My coworker showed up in shorts. Totally inappropriate, but the reception took it with humor, and the server administrator turned out to be a bearded "real admin" - no problem there.

So it was the worst case - shorts not at the company, but at it's conservative customer. Showing up the first time. And it worked out perfectly well!

But then, it stopped working out well.
The computer we needed to work on was in the main server room. Which was stuffed with computers. And had a really, really strong air condition, for the one room separate.
We did not care that the noise of the air condition was certainly above occupational limits for office work.

But it was cold, really cold. Much too cold for shorts. So he spent some hours freezing next to me. (I felt it was uncomfortably cold with long trousers.)

When working with computers at an unknown place, it is absolutely realistic to end up in a server room unexpectedly. They are normally chilly, but ok in office wear - and somewhat uncomfortable in shorts.

(I already mentioned it was a administrator with the appropriate beard: Cooling the server room how much? As cold as I can get it, with no budget limit to worry about)

Even if it's not playing out that bad:

  • The possibility to end up in a cold place should be taken into account.

Also, if you suddenly find yourself

  • at a place where clearly shorts are inappropriate, don't panic.

If you are with a colleague wearing a suit with tie, you can possibly play the role of "the tech guy" - which comes with an allowance of some weirdness.

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People in my office wear shorts. But as to your particular office nobody can tell for definitely. Why not ask? Or just wear them and take some trousers just in case.

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If everyone is always in a shirt and trousers (some even with tie), I would guess it would be inappropriate to wear shorts to work and you would be frowned upon.

Not saying I agree with that policy, but that's the way it goes in many offices.

  • OP mentioned Friday is dress down though, presumably he's asking about Friday only. – Bee Jul 4 at 15:59
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    Sometimes that leads a to a reversal; At my place some of the old war horses show up in shorts & T-shirts and some of the kids dress up really smartly, just to look differently. It's all in good fun though. – Hilmar Jul 4 at 16:47
  • @Bee I didn't read it like that :) But I suppose that could be the case indeed – Sabine Jul 5 at 7:49
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How would you react if you see someone showing up wearing shorts unexpectedly?

Keep that in mind and make your decision regarding how to dress up for casual Fridays.

The reaction could vary depending on local culture and region. Could range from doesn’t matter to frowned upon.

  • Today's work place in general has become more inclusive and liberal than in the past. People we work with have become spread out over a larger age spectrum, race and gender spectrum, language and culture and so forth. – NiRR Jul 4 at 15:34
  • This is risky, as "how would I react" only works if you're normal enough that you'll react the same as everyone else. In which case, you likely wouldn't need to ask this question. – Erik Jul 4 at 18:24
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Would it unprofessional to wear shorts to work?

An accurate answer to this question is entirely context dependent and is specific to YOUR company. What is the policy at YOUR company? We don't know. Ask your manager or HR person if it's appropriate.

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    There is a flag for this kind of thing. This answer strikes me as having a somewhat aggressive tone. – Malisbad Jul 5 at 0:04
  • It's not aggressive. I'm emphasizing the fact that this can only be answered correctly by the OP's manager or HR department. – joeqwerty Jul 5 at 3:37
  • Perhaps suggest specific steps the OP can take to find out from his/her company what will be acceptable. This is a one-line answer as written. – Jay Jul 5 at 13:34
  • I did. In my answer I clearly state "Ask your manager or HR person if it's appropriate.". I mean, I don't get it. Why is a clear, simple, short answer not appropriate here? Everyone always wants to make everything complicated and convoluted. It isn't. The answer is a one line answer because it's a simple problem with a simple solution. "Ask your manager or HR person." – joeqwerty Jul 5 at 14:57

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