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Can I wear very short shorts to the office?

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The question

Can I wear very short shorts to the office?

The answer

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Tiny shorts – usually fairly high-waisted, with a slight flare to the legs, like 1940s pin-ups wore – are indeed one of the most exciting fashion developments of the past year, and when worn with wedge heels, as I am seeing on city streets, they are fantastically flattering.

And of course you can't wear them to the office. Haven't you been listening to me? Expose your legs up to the buttocks and you'll have all the men in the place gathered around you, competitively reciting poetry; no work will get done.

Speaking of sexy, the current trend of loose, floor-length summer dresses – with bare shoulders and back, a high-waist and a long, billowing skirt – is also, you might be surprised to know, extremely appealing to men (and far more office-appropriate than short shorts). I'm guessing it's something to do with ancient depictions of women in dresses; a long skirt is, in hundreds of years' worth of European images, archetypically feminine. It's a paradox: It seems covering your legs entirely can be just as sexy as revealing them.

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided , is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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