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Shorts Sighted Women like the look; employers aren't sure


You may not see them on the chairwoman of the board, but tailored shorts suits -- known as "city shorts" -- are quickly becoming an option for many working women.

Still, opinions vary on their appropriateness for the office.

Some women love them for their comfort and style. Some wish their employers would alter dress codes to include the shorts suit. And some working women feel the city-shorts look is unprofessional, for any career.

Selena Stein, a senior insurance claims analyst, likes the look for weekends, but not for the office.

"I think for the work force, we tend to have a more conservative environment here," she says. "Appearance-wise, I don't think they're appropriate. I just see it as a fun outfit."

The casualness of the shorts may keep many women from trying out the look at the office. The key to making the look a more put-together one is a matched jacket and shorts in dressier fabrics like silk, linen or tropical wool gabardine. Adding buff-toned hose and low-heel slingbacks with some modern jewelry is a chic way to beat the heat.

American Airlines reservationist Pat Harrison says her co-workers formed a task force to change the dress code in her office to include the shorts. Comfort is a major factor in why she likes the look.

"When you're sitting all day, it's important to be comfortable," she says. "City shorts give me the ability to wear something comfortable and look fashionable. I love them because I can get away with wearing something right above my knees, but it's not a miniskirt."

Another working woman at a small advertising company isn't allowed to wear city shorts to the office. She wore a matched shorts suit on her weekly "casual day," and her boss changed the policy to exclude city shorts from the dress code.

"It was the city shorts look he objected to," she says. "People wore jean skirts and slacks, and he had no problem with that."

As much as the fabric and cut determines how appropriate the style can be, the type of business a woman works for also dictates when city shorts can be worn. The look is ideal for careers like public relations, advertising and most parts of the retail industry, while law and insurance offices may deem the style too casual.

Karen Bass, a Dallas Apparel Mart employee, says: "What we have seen as far as the stores buying them is that there are certain business circumstances where they are not appropriate, like if it's an extremely conservative industry. I do think [that if you wear] the ones that are real tailored with a jacket, you can leave work and go most places and be dressed appropriately."

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