I’m not going to bore you with how influential David Beckham is – you already know – and the thing is, he never really gets boring because you’re never sure what’s coming next. Us fashion folk like to view him as one of those strange creatures that appeals to all demographics. He has the wardrobe, influence and sophistication to warrant the fashion press taking an interest and then the classical good looks, on a more superficial level, to appeal to the masses.
Anyway, his widely acclaimed H&M Bodywear range has evolved to incorporate swimwear for the first time. Released this month, the accompanying Glen Luchford-shot campaign showcases three styles, all modelled by Golden Balls himself: tailored board shorts, swim shorts and trunks in a variety of colour ways.
The trunks and swim shorts come in solid hues, while the longer board shorts are available in a two-tone colour-block and graphic check. “The success of my Bodywear collection at H&M has been fantastic, so I’m thrilled to be introducing these great swimwear pieces ready for the summer. We’ve worked hard to create new classics for men, with great fit, comfort and also style,” says Beckham.
All the styles are fine apart from the white trunks. Beckham was famously pictured wearing white trunks on board a boat a few summers ago, and he got away with it, just.
They are obviously a homage to this much papped moment and probably not meant to be taken too literally but, unfortunately, he looks a little too old for them now, especially with the addition of the childlike black laces to the front.
Key Styles For SS14
However, Beckham does get it right with his two other designs. Swim shorts have gradually become shorter and shorter, and what seemed really daring just a few summers ago feels safe and wearable now.
For me, there are only two styles to consider this season: the cropped nylon short and the tailored swim short. Other longer length styles, such as board shorts – those that finish on the knee or over – can make you look short and stumpy. They instantly cut off your legs by not showing the knee and there’s also something a little dated about them (and not in a cool, retro way).
It’s probably something to do with the shapeless straight cuts, garish designs and over-branding. Surfer-inspired styles are being pushed hard by the industry for SS14, but the best versions come in shorter shapes that are reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s, similar to Beckham’s range.
If you are looking for a swim short that is versatile and can adapt to multiple occasions and locations, stick to solid versions in timeless hues like navy, charcoal, khaki or black, or consider a summer-appropriate pastel shade such as sky blue. All of these colours will slot seamlessly into your high summer wardrobe and can be mixed and matched with your existing staples to produce looks for a variety of warm-weather scenarios, on or off the beach.
Alternatively, if you want to make a statement poolside, or are simply looking to breathe life into your existing collection, printed and patterned versions are still very much on trend. Seen on the SS14 runway at Dolce & Gabanna, who applied everything from classic stripes to prints of ancient ruins, there is something for everyone on the high street this season.
1. The Cropped Nylon Swim Short
Most likely a by-product of menswear’s current obsession with sports luxe, cropped nylon (or polyester) swim shorts are highly reminiscent of old-school running shorts – complete with curved hems and a cut that finishes no lower than mid-thigh.
Lending a vintage, athletic feel to any beach-ready outfit, try pairing with towelling polos, cotton sweatshirts and other sportswear-inspired pieces for a chic and comfortable take on one of the industry’s biggest trends.
One word of note: this style of short suits slightly younger men – making the retro/vintage aesthetic ironic – so if you’re in doubt opt for a mid-length tailored pair instead.
Key brands to consider include Oiler & Boiler, River Island, Topman, Calvin Klein, Zara, Diesel and Bjorn Borg.
- Topman Bjorn Borg Swim Shorts
- Topman Mid Blue Plain Swim Shorts
- Runner Swim Shorts
- Burton Navy & Lime Retro Swim Shorts
- Selected Old School Red Shortie Swim Shorts
- Oiler & Boiler East Hampton Retro Swim Shorts Navy
- Zara Camo Print Swimming Shorts
- Zara Horizontal Stripe Swimming Shorts
- Next Sport Swim Shorts
- Lacoste L!ve Mens Swim Shorts – Moorea Green
- Dsquared Zip Side Running Shorts
- Oiler & Boiler Mens Shortie Swim Shorts – Shocking Pink
2. The Tailored Swim Short
The go-to silhouette for a couple of years now, tailored swim shorts are suitable for every type of dresser, old and young. As previously mentioned, cuts have gradually gotten shorter, so whereas before tailored versions finished a couple of inches above the knee, now they are hitting closer to mid-thigh. That said, the length you opt for should be determined by your specific body type (see below).
With tailored styles, traditional elasticated/drawstring waistbands often leave far too much fabric around the legs and can quickly swallow you. They are the swimwear equivalent of wearing an ill-fitting shirt – you don’t really know what all the extra material is for. Unless you want to look like Macaulay Culkin pool-bombing in Home Alone 2 in your dad’s trunks, avoid.
Instead, keep your eye out for styles that feature side adjusters, similar to what you would find on tailored trousers, or button/popper fastenings. It used to be that only premium brands offered these, but now they are available at every price point, from high street to designer.
Not only does the fabric drape and fit much better through the thigh, producing the clean lines you should be looking to create throughout your entire wardrobe, they are also still quite rare on the current market, which will help separate your swim shorts from the masses.
Tailored swim shorts lend themselves well to sharp, Riviera-inspired looks so try combining with linen shirts, Clubmasters, Breton stripes, espadrilles, pastel polos and the like.
Key brands to consider include ASOS’ in-house brand, Orlebar Brown, Vilebrequin, Paul Smith, Robinson les Bains, Faconnable and Ted Baker.
- Next Geo Riviera Swim Shorts
- Asos Swim Shorts With Contrast Waistband And Hems In Short Length
- Selected Frank Flower Shortie Swim Shorts
- Faconnable Azure Printed Mid-length Swim Shorts
- Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Swim Shorts
- Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Long-length Swim Shorts
- Ted Baker Gatley Geo Print Swim Short
- Frescobol Carioca Ipanema Mid-length Printed Swim Shorts
- Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Printed Swim Shorts
- Robinson Les Bains Oxford Long Printed Swim Shorts 192520
- Dan Ward Colour-block Swim Shorts 191890
- Next Riviera Swim Shorts
Body Type Guidelines
It’s imperative that you choose the right swim short for your specific body type. Many brands now offer the same style in varying lengths, which means you should be able to find something suitable.
If you’re tall then go for something longer, especially if you are conscious of leg length, as this will help break up your vertical line further down, stopping you from appearing ‘lanky’. If you’re a shorter gent, the reverse is true – shorts that end around mid-thigh will give the illusion of longer legs.
If you’re carrying a little bit of extra ‘holiday’ weight, consider large horizontal block-stripes – they will balance the top and bottom half of your body by drawing the eye across.
If you’re in-between waist sizes, go up, otherwise you’ll create the dreaded muffin-top effect over the waistband, which will make you look larger than you actually are. Side adjusters will help you achieve the perfect fit, plus you need to remember that they won’t be as big when wet.
Key Beach Accessories
Now you’ve got the right shorts, it’s time to think about the accessories. The hat du jour for SS14 is the bucket. Offering excellent sun protection, it will also shade the back of your neck. Try to find one in the same colour as your shorts or, if you opted for a patterned pair, pick out one of the base hues.
If you’re a man who doesn’t give much thought to his choice of beach towel, Brazilian brand Frescobol Carioca are looking to change your mindset. Their natural linen versions are highly absorbent, lightweight and durable, making them ideal for withstanding sand and salt water on the beach.
Not only that, they also look superb and are quick drying:
- Frescobol Carioca Striped Linen Beach Towel
- Frescobol Carioca Linen Beach Towel
- Striped Linen Towel Baby Blue And White
- Asos Black Printed Bucket Hat
- Fred Perry Bucket Hat In Blue
- Lock & Co Hatters Reversible Water-resistant Bucket Hat
So there you have it, our swimwear recommendations for 2014. If you buy well, you’ll get more than one summer’s wear out of them. Just remember: simple, fitted and stylish.
As always, we want to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, so let us know what type of swimwear you prefer and why…