The Best Looking Men’s Swimsuits – Summer 2011

The Best Looking Men’s Swimsuits – Summer 2011
From the Mailbag:  Finding a great looking affordable swimsuit.

Above: Khaki Swim Trunks by Bonobos – $65.00

I am having the hardest time finding a swimsuit for this summer.  Everything I find either super long and baggy… I’m 5’11” 145 lbs with a muscular runner’s build and I would prefer trunks that are slim cut.  I’m getting the feeling I may be asking for the impossible here, but can one find a trim, tailored swim trunk for $50?

– Alex


Alex is right.  Swimsuits are expensive.  Designers and retailers know that most men only have one swimsuit, so they seemingly try to make you pay out the nose when you finally make your choice.  On to the all important choosing…

The Trick for Fit:  Subtract 2″ – 3″ from the inseam of your favorite pair of shorts.  That’s about where your swim trunks should hit.  Past the knee board shorts give you goofy proportions and they’ve been falling out of favor for awhile.  Some guys like to go shorter than a 2″ reduction, but knocking 2″ off to start is a good first step for most.  They’re called “trunks” for a reason.  Think of an underwear trunk.  They’re supposed to be shorter in the legs.

Too short for all but .007% of men

What you want:

  • Trim legs.  They’ll keep the lines of your body unbroken.
  • A mesh liner.  Keep it under control down there.
  • No more than a couple bright colors.

What you don’t want:

  • A super scrunchy diaper like elastic waist band.
  • Legs that are so roomy they poof out at the sides.
  • Crazy wacky patterns.
  • Extra bulky pockets on the legs.
  • A speedo.

The better shape you’re in the shorter you can go, unless it’s a speedo and then forget it.  And as much as you might want to wear the suit Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale, unless you’ve got the upper body of Voltron, you best not.  On with some picks…

Original Penguin Contrast Band Solid Volley Swim Short$47.20*$59.00*

Notice the contrasting waistband.

*UPDATE*: Take 20% off with the code SHORTSWM.  Thanks to Alex (the Alex who wrote in too) in the comments.
The best all-around that almost everyone can wear, but sizes and color combinations are tough to find.  The 6″ inseam is neither too long or too short, the waistband isn’t mucked up by elastic, the legs are trim, and they come with a mesh liner.  First try Original Penguin’s site and see if they have your size.  Sign up for their email list and you’ll get 20% off.    Amazon has limited sizes/colors for $59.


Original Penguin Piped Band Solid Volley Swim Short$47.20*$65.00*

And now it's just piping.

All that stuff that was said up there about the contrasting band version?  It all applies down here.  A few more sizes and color options to pick through on Original Penguin, Amazon, and Zappos.
*Take 20% off with the code SHORTSWM.


Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Swim Trunks – $44.25 ($59.00)

Stripes on the sides too.

Wearing the red pair might make you want to belt out: “SOME PEOPLE NEED… TO HELP SOMEBODY…”  but hey, you’re at the beach right?  6″ inseam, a 55% /45% cotton poly blend (says so over here at least), and the grey pair looks basic but close to perfect.


Scotch & Soda Colorblock Swim Shorts – $68.00

Best for the non pasty white guys.

White trunks aren’t easy.  Especially if you’re pale.  Better for the guys who aren’t glaringly white as to showcase some kind of definition between trunk and skin.   6″ inseam.


Hugo Boss Butterflyfish Swim Trunks – $59.00*

Won't hide any hint of a spare tire.

Available in a few basic colors and all come with the contrast white piping.   Some will be turned off by the subtle logo at the sides.  Waistband does have that crinkly elastic look to it, but it’s not completely noticeable.  A 4.5″ inseam means it’s pretty short.
*Take 20% off with the code SHORTSWM.


Lands’ End Canvas Boardshorts – $39.50

Longer in length but still above the knee.

For the guys that don’t want to really show all that much upper leg. 9″ inseam, retro colorblock pattern, LEC pricing puts them under $40.


Cremieux Palm Embroidered Trunks – $60.00

Go jump in a lake.

Go-to-hell… trunks?   The big hawaiian-style flowered board shorts will be everywhere.  But smaller and more subtle like these is the real patterned way to go.  6″ inseam.


Old Navy Drawstring Swim Trunks – $10.00 (reg. $16.50)

Ten bucks. Ten.

The cheapest of the cheap.  Bold rugby stripes, a mesh liner, and on seam non-cargo pockets.  Might want to stop in-store for these to try them on.  Old Navy stuff tends to run big (if not huge) so sizing down might be in order.  7″ inseam.


J. Crew Solid Board Short – $39.50 (reg. $54.50)

Nothing crazy. And that's good.

For the minimalists who’d rather let their sunglasses, dive watch, and beach Frisbee skills do the talking.  Falls at a difficult to find in-between 7″ inseam.  Great waistband too.


Bonobos Khaki Shortboards – $65.00icon

Great. If you're tan.

A true to it’s name 5″ inseam, perfect color combination, and nice rear waistband tag.  Only issue is again, if you’re pale, these might be too close to your actual skin tone.  You want some contrast, so steer clear if you’re ghostly.