The sun’s always beaming somewhere so whether summer’s around the corner or you’re venturing to more tropical parts of the world alongside your Instagram girlfriend/boyfriend, you’ll need a good pair of swim shorts. And by good we don’t mean your XXL Von Zipper board shorts from the 90s.
You’re a grown man now and grown men need swim shorts that reflect good taste, good fit, superior functionality and at least a basic knowledge of the year’s trending surf brands.
So drop your pants and listen up as we run you through the different types of swim shorts that are at your disposal and how to wear them correctly.
In This Story…
Swim Short Length Matters
Unbeknownst to many men, today’s swim shorts can come in short length, mid-length and long length. The preferences for these are usually dictated by the activity you’re embarking on. For swimming purposes you’ll want short to mid-length items whereas if you’re doing more active sports like surfing or jet skiing, you should opt for wide leg, long length swim shorts. It’s simple enough a concept but it’s one that will determine how comfortable you are in and out of the water.
Swim Short Materials
Before we get into the types of swim shorts you need to know about the right materials. Modern quality swim shorts normally come in the form of polyester or a fancy variation of it like quick-drying polyamide. These waterproofed materials ensure that the wearer is never weighed down in the water whilst flexibility is maintained.
Short Swim Shorts
Cut in the shortest length available today, short length swim shorts are made for the brave with the right tan to boot. These shorts usually sit at the midway point of your thighs so be weary that they do look more fitted and usually contour around the crotch region. The short fit itself is designed to make the wearer appear visually longer. Side splits are also common on these shorts as a way to show off more leg action.
Again, if you’ve got the confidence and want to grab some attention, these are the shorts for you. Just be sure not to go full hot pants. If you’re going to pair short swim shorts with a top, go for something like a tee or polo shirt. Button shirts are fine but not recommended as the short length of the shorts and the shirt’s longer hemline can make you look like you’ve gone commando.
Above The Knee Swim Shorts
This is the optimum length for today’s swim shorts for men. Sitting at around 2 inches (5cm) above the knee, mid-length swim shorts are championed by countless designer labels from Orlebar Brown to Thom Browne to Gucci. Your choices are therefore extensive. Besides the length, you should also pay attention to the detailing of how the shorts are tightened. Some brands offer the classic draw string whilst others have intuitive side tab adjusters like formal trousers.
Like the others on this list, the fit is tailored but never tight. Mid-length shorts should look relaxed without looking daggy so always try them on first. If you squat in the gym, these will look tighter on you. Above knee swim shorts are best paired with anything from tees to polos to buttoned linen shirts. Its length makes it ideal for pairing with just about any summer top.
Below The Knee Swim Shorts
The longest swim short length available today isn’t the ‘long’ that the teenage version of you knew. Sitting around your knee caps or slightly below, the long length swim shorts usually come in a wider leg opening for active beach duties. Given that there’re more material to work with you can usually find more detailing like pockets and contrast stitching on these type of swim shorts.
Bear in mind though that the length won’t make you look taller so be weary if you’re a shorter guy. A regular cut tee, polo or button shirt can work well here so long as they’re relaxed fit. Having a fitted top and longer and looser swim shorts aren’t the most flattering look.
Plain Swim Shorts
Moving on to swim short designs, we need to talk about the tried and tested plain coloured variants. The safest options for plain shorts are usually ones that aren’t excessively bright. Think black, navy, grey and even darker tones of seersucker. Those who are keen to get a bit more attention can opt for brighter yellow, red, green or blue variants. Given the plain nature of the swim shorts, it’s important that you play up the patterns up top to give the look a bit more character. Think striped tees or polos that are not in the same colour as the shorts. You’re not auditioning for The Wiggles here.
Printed Swim Shorts
Printed swim shorts are considered today’s canvas for the beach. Coming in a plethora of colours, designs and patterns, printed swim shorts are the sure-fire way to add a bit of character to your washboard abs. There’s too many to mention but think anything from photo prints to silhouettes to motifs to geometric patterns – the right pair is the pair that is an extension of your own personality.
As with other length, printed swim shorts can be worn with anything from tees, to singlets to relaxed button shirts. What you need to be careful of here is the colour clash between the top and bottom. If the shorts feature vibrant patterns or colours, keep the top plain. These shorts are best worn topless but if a top is required, that’s the rule to prevent you from looking like a walking Nat Geo winning photograph.