Every summer, there’s a scourge that plagues both beaches and swimming pools alike: the men’s summer board short.
Designed to be worn during intense surf sessions (and other board-oriented sports), the short eventually somehow creeped into everyday swimwear and has risen to default status. This is a problem, as board shorts are generally useless as swimwear and are almost universally unflattering on most men.
Though men assume they function much the same as a traditional swim trunk, they don’t — for three very important reasons:
- There’s no mesh inside. This necessitates wearing underwear, which defeats the purpose of wearing a swimsuit in the first place and complicates the matter.
- A notoriously baggy fit. Most of the traditional surf brands put out board shorts with a terribly baggy fit, accented by way too much length even going past the knees. It’s the beach — it’s OK to show a little skin.
- No elastic waistband. The waistband of board shorts is a traditional drawstring enclosure without the elastic that allows for a snug fit, which can end up revealing a little too much after a dive into the deep end or under a rogue wave.
They also generally come in tacky patterns and colours, and are universally looked at as slovenly and un-stylish.
Luckily, there is a better way, and the answer lies in going back to a traditional swim trunk.
A traditional swim trunk hits above the knee — or, even better, mid-thigh (you can do it) — and often has an elastic waistband with a drawstring and no fly. Its biggest pro, though, is its mesh lining, which allows you to forego underwear where it really shouldn’t be anyway.
The differences between board shorts and regular swim trunks has muddied in recent years, making it even harder to say what exactly you should buy. There are now shorter board shorts in fun patterns with mesh lining, and swim trunks without elastic waistbands. To make it easier, we’ll list here three things you need for a great swim trunk: an elastic waistband, a short inseam, and handsome pattern or colour.
Some of our favourites are made by J.Crew ($70, left),
Uniqlo ($30, left center), and Bonobos ($88, right center). If you want to splurge, Solid & Striped (right) makes a great suit for $130 that many men swear by.