Geller On Shorts

— Thu, 5th August 2010 —

The Wall Street Journal gets designer Robert Geller to weigh in on the great shorts debate. For nicer occasions and (policy permitting) the office, “It’s important that there’s a certain weight and shape” to the shorts, Geller tells The Journal. He personally prefers cotton twill for its structure. “If the fabric is a little more drapey, then the shorts become more casual,” he adds.

More dress short guidelines:

  • More often than not, shorts aren’t office friendly.
  • They should be well-tailored and form-fitting without being tight.
  • They should generally end at the knee when standing. “It starts to look a little too beachy if it gets too short,” Geller tells The Journal. (Personally, we suggest at least an inch above the knee — and we’re not alone.)
  • Regarding color,¬† he says, “Stick to the classics,” like black, gray or khaki.
  • For a relatively formal look, pair them with a well-fitted blazer that ends at the hip.
  • The jacket, says Geller, “shouldn’t have too many details, like gold buttons or anything like that, or you’re going to look like a captain.”
  • The shorts and blazer shouldn’t be in the same fabric, unless you want to “look like [you’re wearing] a suit with the pants cut off.”
  • Pair the jacket with a washed-cotton dress shirt. “You want to unbutton the top few buttons of the shirt” and leave it untucked to strike a balance between the casual style of the shorts and the formal feel of the blazer.”
  • Avoid casual footwear like sandals, instead choosing “classic lace-up shoes” — But “nothing too shiny.”
  • Never show sock — Either leave them at home, or wear them short enough to hide under your footwear.

  1. Oh come on! This whole article is ridiculous. If people in the Deep South can get away with not wearing shorts to the office in the Summer, can’t the trendy hipsters in the picture avoid it as well?

    1) “Not office friendly”. No kidding. If they weren’t office friendly before everyone had central A/C, why would they be office friendly now?

    2) “Tailored and form fitting without being tight”. Hello?! These are shorts! Shorts by definition are casual. Tailored and form fitting are generally not adjectives associated with casual. If you want tailored and form fitting, buy a wet suit. Or an Italian suit.

    3) “Should end at the knee while standing”. Okay, I have no problem with this one.

    4) Regarding color, again, no problem with this one. Then again, Murray’s Toggery would like to see Nantucket Red added to the list. Then again and again, now that I think about it, who wears black shorts? Maybe Rodney Daingerfield from “Easy Money”?

    5) “Well-fitted blazer that ends at the hip”. This is where things start to get a little bizarre. See #2. Shorts are casual. If you wear a blazer with shorts, you better have some Sperrys and be on your way to the Yacht Club.

    6) “Shouldn’t have too many details”. Oh, so you want to look understated while dressing badly to the office? Now I get it. When you are wearing a blazer with shorts TO THE OFFICE, you wouldn’t want to draw undue attention to yourself by having gold butttons! Heaven forbid. People might miss the fact you are wearing shorts TO THE OFFICE and just focus on your gold blazer buttons! Someone is swallowing camels and choking on flies.

    7) “Shorts and blazer should not be of the same material”. This should be a given anytime you wear a blazer. If you want your blazer and pants to match then buy a suit!

    8) “Leave your shirt untucked”. Really? Shorts = Casual. Untucked shirt = Very casual. Blazer = dressy. Normally. Shorts + Untucked Shirt + Blazer = drunk frat guy at midnight not a productive office drone at 9 am. If you are going to insist on wearing your blazer with your shorts, you better have your shirt tucked in when you show up at the Yacht Club, Admiral.

    9) “classic lace-up shoes. But not too shiny”. Hmm, my PF Flyers are just too casual when I show up to the office IN SHORTS. I better get out my wingtips instead. I won’t bother with shining them though. That might appear gauche…while I’m wearing shorts…IN THE OFFICE!

    10) “No socks with your shoes”. Ah, ok. So when I wear my wingtips (non-shiny) with my shorts TO THE OFFICE, I don’t want my socks to show. Because that would be in bad taste…wearing socks with lace-up dress…with shorts…and a blazer…with the shirt untucked…TO THE OFFICE!!!

    This whole article rides the short bus. It’s like saying: when you show up at a wedding and you decide to wear the Tuxedo T-shirt instead of an actual tux, make sure you wear your patent leather formal shoes as sneakers would just be too casual!

  2. Fantastic–Geller has just described how to look completely ridiculous while wearing shorts. Very few men would want to dress this way, and fewer would be able to pull it off. The outfit he describes would probably be great for a guy who works in the fashion industry, but probably nobody else.

    I’ve been wearing shorts to the office, unapologetically, for more than a decade, in the production departments of e-commerce and publishing companies, where I’ve been fortunate to have the freedom to dress as I please. I’m not an executive, I’m not in sales, and I don’t interact with the public. I do take public transportation, which is a big part of why I like being able to wear shorts. also, my employer encourages us to dress in comfortable and seasonally appropriate clothing during warm weather.

    I always dress neatly, regardless of the season. I do believe that untucked shirts are not appropriate in the office. I wear short-sleeve cotton shirts in plaids, stripes, madras, or seersucker. I tuck them in. (Polo shirts are an exception, but I make sure they are not baggy and the tails are reasonably short.) My shorts are flat-front and to the knee, in a variety of shades from off-white to dark khaki; I’m six feet tall, so an 11″ inseam is about right. I wear a belt, always. (Striped D-ring belts are great with these outfits.) I wear boat shoes or occasionally canvas CVO sneakers. Everything is ironed, and I always make sure that I look tidy and put-together, and I’m still comfortable.

    Dressing this way has not hurt my career in any way; in fact, I’ve just recently received a promotion. I think Geller’s comments, and Todd’s excellent rebuttal of them, should serve to remind all of us that what works for some people is completely wrong for others, and circumstances and common sense should guide us.

    the passenger

  3. Sorry guys, I got a little off the rails there. Apparently, reading Robert Geller and having five Negro Modelos are a bad combination.

    the passenger – what you describe is pretty much my uniform during evenings and weekends from May to October here in the Deep South. I can’t argue with your choices for working in shorts. Simple and classy. If only Geller had the same sense when he had written the article.

    And to think I didn’t even mention the fedoras the guys were wearing in the picture!

  4. This post got me thinking about the post on Dr. Scholl’s Odor Destroyers and the topic of shorts with no socks.

    Shorts with no socks is a great look. No one disagrees. One aspect of being a stylish man, however, is taking care of one’s wardrobe, which means that naked feet is a no-no at times. The Odor Destroyers are great for these times. Socks that hide below the shoe are, on the other hand, bullshit.
    1) There is something artificial and contrived with wearing socks but pretending that you don’t need to wear socks. It’s like wearing a clip-on tie. I prefer to have an honesty to what I wear.
    2) We’ve all seen the young men try to hide their socks but fail upon close inspection. They always look dreadful as a result of their failed feints.
    3) Frequently, it’s nice to add another color to your palette by wearing socks that stand out a la the Italians. If I know I’m going to be walking quite a bit and don’t want my desert bucks to chaff my heel, I might wear fuchsia socks. When you wear shorts you gain additional canvas. It’s not wrong to use it.

    bro namath

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