As a Westcountry lad, born and bred, I was lucky enough to grow up at the seaside which meant long Summer days spent on the beach as standard – so the staple Summer wardrobe item for me was board shorts. Popularised by surfers and other water sports fanatics in the local area – board shorts were rife and were available in many different colours and patterns. Even today, board shorts remain the most popular choice of swimwear here in the UK and in North America. They offer both style and comfort and can be worn simply as shorts even when not on the beach (whereas walking around your local town in simply a t-shirt and Speedos might not be the best idea!) Board shorts are a pretty safe choice for men of all body types – although there is always the risk of going too big and baggy.
Overweight men should avoid wearing over-large shorts as this will only result in making them look bigger. A better option for portly men would be a board short which comes to around knee length with a taper to the leg following the body line. Several board shorts these days also feature a waist tie rather than the ugly elasticated waistband which means the shorts can sit across the waist in a more flattering position rather than falling below the gut. Also – it is best to avoid garish, bright colours and horizontal stripes as darker colours are slimming. However, this doesn’t mean larger men need to be restricted to ‘black’ and only black. Other darker colours can also be slimming, and there are several brands out there which feature darker monotone colours with a splash of colour with a logo or small pattern rather than all over prints – for example, the Diesel BMBX Shorts.
Similarly, very skinny men should avoid overly baggy shorts as these will swamp the skinny frame and you may end up looking like an 11 year old boy dressing up in your Dad’s clothes. The best option for a skinnier man would be a narrow-legged board short which isn’t over-baggy and doesn’t ‘drown’ the wearer. Different colours, patterns and textures will add the illusion of bulk, and opting for a pair which feature cargo-style pockets which will add a sense of shape to the frame. A perfect choice would be the Blue Checked Swim Shorts from Topman which feature pockets on the thighs, and also support the preppy check trend which is very popular this season.
Short shorts are inspired by tennis-style shorts which were worn by the likes of John McEnroe in his Wimbledon heyday, and they also draw inspiration from 1950s Europe as seen on Jude Law’s character, Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley. These types of shorts are very versatile as they come in a range of cuts and lengths (normally ending mid-thigh) – from close-fitting, like the HOM Block Striped Swim Shorts, to slightly baggier – but no less short! – like the Bronze Dolce & Gabbana Shorts in the product picks below. Short shorts are particularly popular at the moment due to the retro feel – and they often look much smarter and more tailored than standard beachwear, making them an elegant, high-class choice.
These types of shorts take a lot of courage to be worn – but if worn with confidence on the right body type – they can make you stand out on the beach from the more common choice of board shorts. Short shorts are particularly well-suited for shorter men as the shorter length of the cut means more leg is on show and this makes legs appear longer.
During the 1980s, the popularity of Speedos and swimming briefs exploded following the increased use of Speedos in competitive swimming at high-profile competitions such as the Olympics. For this reason, Speedos scream functionality rather than fashion style and are perfect if you are an Australian lifeguard or Olympic swimmer – but are less popular amongst your average British holidaymaker. Speedos have developed a stigma over the years and Speedos at the beach are associated more with big-bellied old men pouring themselves unashamedly into tiny strips of lycra than a fashionable swimwear choice. However, the tide is turning as designers are introducing more swimming briefs on the catwalks and last year, Japanese fashion house Comme Des Garcons collaborated with Speedo themselves for their fourth designer swimwear collection. Despite the stigma – Speedos and boxer-style trunks are fighting back, and in fact have several positive aspects. There is less fabric – which means they dry quickly and also reduce the number of tan lines whilst sunbathing. They also offer versatility as they can be worn beneath other items of clothing for travelling to, and from the beach or the pool. If you are serious about swimming then swimming briefs also create less drag in the water which improves speed and mobility.
In fact, the popularity of Speedos have a geographical aspect too. It is only here in Britain and in the USA that the snobbery and stigma towards them applies. Go to mainland Europe or South America and Speedos and other types of tighter swimming briefs will be all over the beaches and in the pools. In fact – in some European countries such as France, swimming briefs are the only types of swimwear permitted in swimming pools.
It is important to remember, however, that not everybody can get away with wearing the ‘banana hammock.’ Muscled and well-toned men are lucky as they can get away with wearing literally any sort of swimwear and still look good. Speedo and Boxer-style swimsuits are perfect as they are small and accentuate the athletic frame. But remember that tight shorts and Speedo briefs leave very little to the imagination, and whatever the body type – the man wearing them needs to feel confident and comfortable.
As with all types of fashion – with swimwear there are options available for everybody – it is just a case of being aware of what suits your body type. The wide selection of swimwear types available and the fact that they are all currently being popularised by different brands and designers means that men of all shapes and sizes can find swimwear that compliments their body shape whilst still being stylish. And if there is still nothing here that floats your boat – there is always the mankini option! Something that is sure to turn heads on any continent!
New Season Styles
Boxer Short Style