The Want: Steamy summer weather calls for office-appropriate shorts that won't shock your colleagues. They must be easy to pair with a dressier top, long and loose enough to avoid questions about decency, and come in a fabric that looks formal and stays crisp at high temperatures.
The Women's Get: Rachel Comey's high-waisted women's shorts ($298 at farfetch.com) are made from a heavy silk that keeps its shape. Tailored but not tight, they look professional when paired with a tucked-in, short-sleeve blouse and a simple ballet flat. The deep orange color matches most neutrals and will transition perfectly into fall.
The Men's Get: Billy Reid's classic men's shorts ($155 at Billy Reid stores) have flat-fronted formality with a slightly edgy slim fit. The subtle black-and-white plaid (in a lightweight summer wool) adds character without being too bold. They look best worn with preppy basics, such as boat shoes and a crisp, sport-collar, button-down shirt.
Shoes that work best with shorts
Men: The Generic Man Naval Shoe ($305) - The slightly rounded toe and wooden heel seem formal, while the canvas top maintains a summery, low-key look.
Women: Topshop Mazy T Bar Pearl Pumps ($55) - These flats' structured leather is topped by a pearl strap and grosgrain bow. They look pretty—yet polished—and go with every short.
Men: Sperry Top-Sider ($70) - The fresh, neutral navy canvas works on the dock or even the golf course, depending on your after-work plans.
Women: J. Crew's Demetra Sandal ($198) - In elegant gray leather, they have a cone-shaped heel that makes legs look slimmer and a comfortable elastic strap.