It's officially summer, and you may be looking at a pile of raggedy shorts and resigning them to the "gardening and housework only" pile. But over the last couple years, shorts have undergone a bit of a transformation; from weekend-only wear to (almost) anytime wear, depending on the style and material. Sure there are some shorts that are really only appropriate for exercise, but there are plenty more that can be worn more formally.

If you'd like to work shorts into your dinner-out and work wardrobes, look for those made with luxe fabrics (like silk, modal, or a tough, thicker, good-quality cotton) that are structured and tailored; waistbands with belt loops for men, details like pleats and buttons, and slightly longer length for women). Forthwith, some ideas for rocking shorts more often (and even at work) — all made ethically and sustainably, of course. 

silk crepe de chine shorts

These silk crepe de chine (which is a slightly heavier drape) shorts from Eileen Fisher have a longer length and a pleated front for fullness, as well as a luxe fabric, so they can be worn in place of a skirt in any more formal environment—or paired with flip-flops and a tank for something more relaxed. These shorts are Bluesign certified, which means that the chemical, water and energy used to make them is monitored and minimized. 

 two-tone men's shorts from Patagonia

These two-tone men's shorts from Patagonia are made from organic cotton and are built to last (which is part of the company's DNA). Here they are paired with casual elements, but could be coupled with more formal lace-up shoes and a long-sleeve chambray shirt for a relaxed, but still appropriate-for-dinner outfit. 

yard-dyed woven Ace & Jig shorts

These yard-dyed woven Ace & Jig shorts (which means the yarns are colored before the fabric is woven, making for a more handmade, almost vintage look) are the ultimate dress-up—dress-down shorts. Paired with a crisp white button down, a patent-leather belt and black heels, they would be the ideal anchor to a polished-but-unique office look. And of course they would look lovely paired with nothing more than a bikini top on the beach.

Tough, double-stitched twill shorts from Nau

Tough, double-stitched twill shorts from Nau are made with organic cotton and will last for years. Easy to dress up or down, they could even be worn with a dark brown blazer and white shirt for an alternative to the summer suit (ensure you wear with formal shoes if you are attempting this look). 

fun printed shorts from Feral Childe

Made in NYC from organic cotton, these fun printed shorts from Feral Childe are perfect for an afternoon in town, or, paired with a structured jacket and closed-toe flats, could work at the office too (the key is in the tailoring). 

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Shorts, for men and women, are making a comeback
Shorts are now more versatile and acceptable than ever.