Since the Victorian era, when swimming as a social pastime became more and more popular, the evolution of men’s swimwear has been slow. The biggest change occurred in the late 1930s when men going bare-chested was no longer frowned upon and men could finally move on from the full-body, long-sleeved wool garments that had been predominant in this period. Since then, different swimsuit styles have been popular during different decades: in the 1960s and 1970s short shorts ending mid-thigh were popular, the 1980s saw the domination of the Speedo-style swimming briefs, and thanks to the resurgence in popularity of surfing as a sport in the 1990s, board shorts became a staple, both at the beach and the swimming pool.
Although the evolution of men’s swimwear has been slow – in the modern day, we now have a wide selection of styles, cuts, patterns and colours from which to choose. Swimwear used to be all about functionality, but as holidaying abroad and lounging on the beach has become something everybody yearns for at least once a year – what we wear on the beach and at the pool has become a creative, fashion choice – and the wide range of options available mean, even in swimwear, you can inject your own personal sense of style and individuality. When wearing swimwear – you can’t hide behind layers or accessories – so it is important to choose carefully to best suit your body type, and find a swimwear choice in which you feel comfortable. What you wear on the beach or at the pool is just as important to individual style as what you wear day to day, and the same thought-process and respect should be given to choosing swimwear.
It is important to be aware that different styles of swimwear suit different body types – and no matter your size, shape or skin tone – the vast choices available mean there is something out there for everybody. Men can be just as body-conscious as women (although they may not vocalise it as much), and often, we men are just as reluctant to strip off. Catwalks and celebrity culture display models and actors with perfectly toned physiques and well-muscled bodies – but these are a result of personal trainers and tough gym training schedules. Most of us average Joes do not have the time or money to devote to sculpting the perfect body – so squeezing yourself into some boxer-style trunks a la Daniel Craig in Casino Royale is unlikely to have quite the same effect as 007. We should play to our strengths more and be more aware of what styles of swimwear best suit our individual body types. Most importantly, you need to feel comfortable and confident in your choice of swimwear.
Another factor to consider when choosing swimwear is the variety of colours, prints and patterns available. No matter what cut or style you decide to go for, they are likely to be available in different shades and with different prints. Many men fall into the trap of getting carried away with the sunny weather and opting for loud, multicoloured shorts when a more muted colour choice could/would be better. Back in 2005, Tony Blair was snapped on his Summer holidays wearing a garish pair of floral print Vilebrequin shorts and the media coverage that followed wasn’t about the 2005 water crisis in the UK or the looming oil and gas shortage – but how our Prime Minister could warrant spending upwards of £80 on a pair of such unflattering, distasteful swim shorts. Unfortunately Mr Blair also failed to consider the age factor when choosing his swimwear which is something which should be considered by all men in all fashion choices. Simply put, bright-coloured, floral-printed Bermuda shorts are best suited to a younger age bracket – or at least a more mature man who has the body to carry off the attention-attracting swimwear with confidence and aplomb. Blair should have opted for a more muted, monochrome choice of swim short with a more flattering cut and avoided the elasticated waistband which only draws attention to the stomach area. Something from the Orlebar Brown range of swimwear would have been perfect as this range offers classic, slim-fitting cuts in simple colours which create an elegant, classy, well-groomed effect, a particularly good choice for the more mature man. This represents a classic example of understanding what styles, colours and patterns suit your body type – and choosing the right sort of swimwear for you.
Last July, the Miami Mercedes Benz Fashion Week featured a selection of shows where brands such as Ed Hardy, Diesel and Red Carter all took to the catwalk to display swimwear picks for S/S 2010. Interestingly, there were four main swimwear styles which have come to the forefront and have now filtered down into the high street; Board Shorts, Short Shorts, Boxer-Style Briefs and Speedos. (Discussions and examples of these four main styles can be found on the next page.)
The wide range can be seen both across the high street collections and designer collections. For example, H&M’s S/S 2010 range features a selection of board shorts available in different lengths and prints with preppy checked patterns proving popular, and Topman are offering a collection of board shorts and short shorts in both plain colours and also geometric and floral prints. Similarly, the Ed Hardy swimwear collection features longer cut board short-styles with a slim taper to the leg in plain colours featuring a bold injection of graffiti-style print, which is the Ed Hardy signature. Other brands such as Butch swimwear, Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel and DSquared2 seem to be favouring the Speedo-style briefs and boxer-short style but have added a new dimension to these by moving away from the traditional plain, block colours associated with traditional Speedos and adding different colour choices and prints, and featuring larger brand logos, like in the Diesel ‘Aloha’ shorts.
The fact that different brands and designers are all favouring different styles of swimwear this season means that there is more choice out there for us and we are able to choose a pair of trunks which both suit individual body types – but also remain stylish and on trend.
Continue to the next page in order to see what types of swimwear are available this year…
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