Swimwear: From Runway to Wardrobe

It seems the “April Showers” have been overtaken by weather degrees in its twenties so what better reason to distract ourselves with outfits suitable for the beach. With the scorching months that follow it’s only right that we are beginning to see summer shades and swimwear creeping up everywhere. I’ve reported the darker side of fashion with my article on summer contrast, however some designers are using swimwear as a release for their colourful inhibitions; staying true to colour and away from the black.

For all those in favour for a much brighter summer – read on.

Swimwear On The Runway

Nautica Swimwear Spring/Summer 2011 Runway

Up and down mega-brand Nautica have focused on colour and the middle pair of swim shorts is very reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s artwork. The swim shorts are dominated by white space featuring eye catching fragments of colours paired with a faded compass print.

Bold colours are continued in the designers’ swimwear with the geometric shapes of contrasting colours seen in the third pair of board shorts. Recently taken over in 2008 by Chris Cox, the collection has stayed true to his plans to relaunch Nautica as a lifestyle mega brand. The swim shorts are cut in the safe style of board shots that the everyday man can enjoy wearing; it’s only really the print and the stand out colours that could attract the more fashion conscious.

Perry Ellis

Perry Ellis Swimwear Spring/Summer 2011 Runway

Featured in the Perry Ellis S/S collection – and dominating the current swimwear market – is the inclusion of many pastel hues. The above the knee cut is much more fashion conscious and whether it’s the shorts that feature the colour or an open zip up jacket, it is sure to emphasise and bring attention to your golden tan. Pastel colours work very well with olive and dark skin tones, but can make pale skin looked washed out – so keep that in mind when purchasing any new form of swimwear.

For anyone who isn’t fond of the pastel colours but wants to try their hand [or their leg] at the above the knee cut, the collection also includes darker shades; including a grey check pattern – which as we know is very much a pattern of choice within the whole industry at the moment.


DSquared2 Swimwear Spring/Summer 2011 Runway

Combat shorts, striped swim briefs [otherwise known as ‘budgie smugglers’] and belt/chain printed swim shorts? It doesn’t seem like Dean and Dan Caten of DSquared2 have commanded a recurring theme when it comes to swimwear in their S/S collection. However, all pieces are excellent when standing alone; the turned up combat shorts [far left – see image up close here] give off more of a tough luxe look compared to Perry Ellis’ pastel colours. This style could easily take you from beach to bar by just adding the correct surrounding pieces. Switch bare feet for short military inspired boots (or gladiator sandals) and throw on a short sleeve white shirt with military epaulettes in order to give off an on trend military vibe which is fashion forward and masculine. Leave the shirt open – if you have the body for it – or layer a plain vest underneath for a true relaxed smart/casual day look.

  • Calvin Klein Medium Swim Shorts
  • G-Star Raw Tunnel Short Sleeve Military Shirt, White
  • Cropped Military Boot

The other styles in the collection include a more luxurious pair of 70s styled swim shorts; using a silk-like material cut higher above the knee paired with a more expensive print including golden wire and chains. However, this pair was beaten in being the stand out piece of the collection by the swimming briefs featuring a more playful pattern of green vertical stripes. DSquared2 have created a variety of extremely different but fashion conscious swimwear for those who would probably prefer showing it off on dry land than in water.


D&G Swimwear Spring/Summer 2011 Runway

Much like Perry Ellis, D&G have utilised a check pattern throughout their swimwear but this time in a much bolder red colour. Paired with simple white espadrilles, this allows the focus to be firmly on the colour up top – a key tip for any of you males who want to draw attention to yourself on holiday this year.

  • D&G Gingham Swim Shorts
  • Castañer Canvas Espadrilles
  • ASOS Boat Shoes

However, the designers have not shied away from bolder looks and have somehow managed to pull off a stylish Hawaiian print in their green short shorts as well as featuring the increasing popular floral print within men’s fashion. Jil Sander’s showed it through his oversized t-shirt and long sleeved under tops along with Vivienne Westwood through her floral ties. Ben Jones rounded up the whole Hawaiian trend last week on site and it certainly split opinions – although Hawaiian swim shorts seemed to be acceptable to most males and continue to be a big trend each season within the market. The shorts from D&G are sure to go down well with anyone who closely follows the trends.

Swimwear Lookbook

Men's Swimwear Look Book 2011

The lookbookers shown above have good command of the pastel colours shown on the runway. Pairing their shorts with on trend accessories such as wayfarer sunglasses and straw hats to create an outfit perfect for the beach. Espadrilles are a key item this summer but go easy on them, they’re cheap to buy so don’t expect them to withstand all the weather conditions we’re most likely to face in the fine British summer.

Our [middle bottom] lookbooker proves that being bold at the beach can be pulled off well with a retro motif and a stand out pair of swim shorts. If you’re a real fashion hound then trying vintage stores for swim shorts is a good move for anyone pulling off a similar look.

New Season On Trend Swimwear

3 Tips for buying Swimwear:

  • Choose colours that compliment your skin – stay away from dark tones if you’re pale skinned but go for lighter shades like Perry Ellis’ pastels to accentuate a tan.
  • Choose a cut for your body type – a man with more muscle can afford to show off toned thighs with a pair of short shorts where as a pair of board shorts are more likely to suit a man with wider legs.
  • Know how daring you want to be – whether it comes to print or length you need to feel comfortable more than anything.
  • Red Swim Shorts
  • ASOS Cut And Sew Swim Shorts
  • Original Penguin By Munsingwear Two-Tone Trunks
  • Fred Perry Mid Length Swim Shorts
  • Paul Smith Slim Classic Swim Shorts
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Hawaiian Swim Shorts
  • Lyle & Scott Plain swimshort with logo
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Hawiian Swim Shorts
  • Hartford Coral Swimming Shorts
  • Navy Gingham Swim Short
  • Lyle & Scott Check print swim short
  • FRANK'S Checked swim shorts
  • D SQUARED Colour panelled swimming briefs
  • ALEXANDER MCQUEEN Skull swimming briefs
  • BIKKEMBERGS Brief trunks
  • Deck Shorts
  • RALPH LAUREN Hawaiian swim shorts
  • PAUL SMITH Classic striped swim shorts
  • Mothball Boardshort
  • Hibiscus Swim Short Navy
  • Blue Floral Swim Short
  • ASOS Swim Shorts with Poppy Print
  • Howick Hibiscus floral swim short
  • Paul Smith Accessories Navy Floral Print Swimshorts
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Purple Coloured Flower Swimshorts
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs Olive California Print Swim Shorts
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs Blue California Print Swim Shorts
Swimwear Specialists
Brand Focus – Orlebar Brown

When it comes down to it, to some it may seem ridiculous purchasing a pair of expensive swimming shorts for lounging on the beach – but if you have the money then I would definitely recommend it – especially with shorts from Orlebar Brown. The company is a true fashion swimwear brand who focus on creating shorts which “have the ability to take you from the street to the boardwalk, into the ocean, and back again”. These are for those males who care about the quality and versatility of all their clothing – even those items classed as non-essentials.

The Orlebar Brown swimwear is cut like tailored shorts, creating a slim-line silhouette which looks refined, classy and just fits so much better than the usual board shorts purchased by Brits on tour brigade. You can quite easily pair their range of swim shorts with shirts, polos and other items to create chic outfits on the fly – taking you to the beach and back to the bar with minimal effort. This is the next generation of swimwear and is very much designed for the modern male who invests in his wardrobe.

The OB Shop currently features 4 different styles:

  • The Setter – a newer take on the 1950s swim short; meaning a shorter short with a tailored fit; one for the man who’s proud of his legs.
  • The Bulldog – a classic beach short aiding comfort without going the whole mile as a baggy board short.
  • The Dane – now a board short for those who want more comfort than the previous pair can offer; longer length but still a tailored fit.
  • The Beagle – they’re a surf short considered to be the ideal pair for a typical day at the beach.

But there are also newer editions to the Bulldog courtesy of the inspiration from Alan Aldridge, a UK illustrator born in 1943, who is known as one of the worlds greatest. The Alan Aldridge collection captures the essence of the 60s, meaning that the shorts are very psychedelic. They come in 4 different designs with 3 different colourways, available in waist sizes 30-38 – so we can all get our hands on them. Even though they cost a lot more than the £20 pound pair from the high street, the prices aren’t entirely out of reach. Besides, with Brown’s genius, even the beach is becoming a place where a man’s style can say a lot – and a pair of Orlebar shorts speak louder than words.

  • Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid Length Swim Shorts
  • Orlebar Brown Bulldog Geometric Swim Shorts
  • Orlebar Brown Alan Aldridge Third Eye Trip Embroidered Bulldog Swim Shorts
  • Alan Aldridge Giggling Guru Bulldog Swim Shorts
  • orlebar brown Long length swim shorts
  • ORLEBAR BROWN Classic Bulldog Yellow Swim Shorts
Brand Focus – Vilebrequin

Another premium fashion swimwear brand who have been inspired by the French Riviera and all that comes with it; glamour, style and decadence. Founded in Saint Tropez itself back in 1971, the brand has utilised spinnaker canvas for all of their swimwear – which is renowned for drying quickly in the sun. This has helped the swimwear brand become an overnight success within the fashion market, as swim shorts that dry quickly after a dip in the pool or beach are obviously much more versatile when it comes to going places after. No longer do you need to go home, dry yourself and ring your shorts out in order to feel comfortable and stylish – these will take you from the shops, to the beach for a quick dip and then back to the bar in a flash.

Vilebrequin always takes a much bolder approach to their swimwear designs than Orlebar. You can choose from a collection of exclusive bright summer prints, including flowers, toucans and chameleons. These are shorts that are designed to get you noticed, and when you are the first thing they will see is how great the cut of each pair is. Again a much more tailored and refined fit is provided; something that looks a lot more mature and stylish than the shorts you wore in your youth – even if you are continuing to show some flair through the bold statement prints.

If you are looking to come away from the bold prints, the latest collection also features some bang on trend pastel colours; obviously inspired by the French Riviera heritage of the brand itself. These will still catch the eye, but in a much more refined manner. Pair with soft tailored blazers, leather deck shoes and pastel polo shirts for a true Riviera look that will have you looking great all day.

  • Vilebrequin Peacock Swim Shorts
  • Vilebrequin Hawaiian Wax Swim Shorts
  • Vilebrequin Tribal Art Swim Shorts
  • Vilebrequin Orange Tie Dye Turtle Print Swimshorts
  • Vilebrequin Yellow Vintage Swimshorts
  • Vilebrequin Sky Tie Dye Sea Urchin Print Swimshorts

So there you have it, whether you are purchasing from the high street or are more of a swimwear connoisseur, there is something for everyone this year. Take note of the key trends mentioned above and treat your swimwear as a true extension of your wardrobe, not a stand alone piece. Consider which items you can match with your chosen pair before you buy, so you can create versatile outfits that will have you looking like the stylish man you are; from beach to bar and back again.