Q: How Can I Wear Shorts to Work?

Because it's hot out there.
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Tyler McCall
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Because it's hot out there.
Lose the swimsuit. Unless you're a lifeguard, then maybe that's important to keep. DKNY Spring 2014, Photo: Peter Michael Dills/Getty

Lose the swimsuit. Unless you're a lifeguard, then maybe that's important to keep. DKNY Spring 2014, Photo: Peter Michael Dills/Getty

In our latest column, “Ask a Fashionista,” you can solicit our strongly held opinions on everything from how to wear a midi skirt without looking like a tree stump to whether a certain retail CEO should go ahead and resign already.

Q: It's not technically summer yet, but it's already sweltering hot where I live! Getting dressed for work has become a real challenge, because all my clothes feel too heavy. Is there a way to wear shorts to the office but still look professional? — Charlita, Athens, GA

A: First of all, you won't be able to pull this off if you work in a very conservative office. This is a judgement call only you can make, but if you can't see your boss doing it, I'd stick with skirts and dresses.

That being said, if you think you can get away with shorts in the office, the best place to start is a shorts suit. They've been a trend on spring runways for a few years now, shown by designers like Donna Karan (for DKNY) and Jenni Kayne. The key is to make sure the shorts hit pretty close to the knee -- think bermuda length.

To keep the feel professional, pair them with heels -- pointed-toe pumps, mules or a pair of substantial sandals will serve fine. Your top, too, should feel a bit more formal; try an Equipment button-down or a silk shell top

If you work in a creative field -- like fashion, for example -- then you can be trendier. Bolder patterns and shorter lengths (not too short!) are fun to experiment with here. J.Crew's Eaton boyshorts in Cove Floral are a good bet; Chloé's pinstripe crepe shorts are a great high-end option. Leather shorts, in the right context, are also on-trend -- H&M has a faux pair that rings in under $20. (And, just throwing this out there, Net-a-Porter has some great pairs on sale right now.)

Regardless of where you work, denim and khaki should be avoided altogether. Their super-casual feel is best saved for the weekend.

Above: McQ Alexander McQueen, $237 (on sale), available at Net-a-Porter; Asos, $66.69, available at Asos; Carven, $259 (on sale), available at Net-a-Porter.