Upgrading the typical, young-man beach/pool side outfit
Dressing well in college can be tough. Classes, social activities, and holding down a job if you have one, can take up a good chunk of time. But, a lack of time from all of those things isn’t an excuse to dress poorly — in fact, they’re reasons to upgrade your style. The “Trade This for That” series showcases some easy & affordable ways college guys can upgrade their style in familiar scenarios.
Alright, so the summer’s winding down for most of us. If you’re lucky, there’s time to squeeze in one, maybe two trips away from work or an internship before classes start. Perhaps that involves a day trip to a nearby pool, lake, coastal waterway, or even the beach. Now, not every outfit choice here will be perfect or well-suited for every person or environment. What works on the East Coast in terms of beach style might not work on the West Coast, or on a lake, or on a river. But it’s helpful to keep general tips in mind for the next time you’re on the water.
As with most things, it’s better to keep things simple on the beach than overdo it. And while you’ll be barefoot most of the time, you’ll need something on your feet to get from your place to the sand. This is one instance where flip-flops are, in fact, OK — some are strictly in the anti-flip-flop camp, and that’s perfectly alright. Wearing a nicer leather pair looks better than throwing on a crappy set that were made to keep a barrier between you and the dorm shower floor. But if you won’t wear them all that often, even $25 for a leather pair might seem expensive. In that case, it’s probably best to stick with boat shoes (or something close to it) for the times you have on …. actual shoes.
In the photo, those are a kind of hybrid boat shoe/canvas sneaker model from Vans Off The Wall — they fit and feel like a sneaker, reside in the same neighborhood as a boat shoe in terms of lacing/looks. If you’re not into the full-on boat shoe look, these might do the trick, but those small logos could just be a deal breaker if you don’t like the look of them. Of course, those are just one of the ways to go, in this case — canvas sneakers might not be a bad bet either — just slip ‘em off when you get to the beach.
Either of those shoes can take you other places than the beach, too.
Moving on up, swim trunks are an area overlooked by a good number of guys. The best swim trunks end above the knee and fit trimmer than board trunks, like this option from J. Crew. Baggy board shorts function the same way as cargo shorts, creating an unflattering silhouette with extra fabric. A swim trunk that’s slightly above the knee (a 7″ to 10″ inseam, for example) isn’t outrageously long or short, and also looks less like actual swim trunks, so it could feasibly be worn away from the water without raising too many eyebrows. Now, some don’t like drawstring ties, and in that case, a pair with side tabs looks cleaner (but could set you back a lot more).
Trunks by J. Crew. Henley by Old Navy.
When it comes to your shirt, it can be a bit of a tough bet. Some would say a tank top is fine to wear at the beach; but to others, it can look not-so-great (see #1). Now, you won’t be wearing it for that long anyway, so why does it matter? Outside of the water, other options can take you farther and help you look better. Aside from a tank top, a grey or plain white short-sleeve henley does the trick. The placket adds just a bit more visual interest than a V-neck or a crew-neck shirt, and in a neutral shade, it’ll match just fine with those vibrant swim trunks, too.
On to your wrist: If you’re not really a wear-your-watch-all-the-time guy, it could be best to take it off, especially if it’s a bit pricey. But, if you have a watch you wear a ton and that can get beat up, something with a bigger dial like this Seiko or another reliable dive watch, it’s probably alright to wear (they’re called dive watches for a reason, right?). Watches with a high enough water resistance should do fine; on a personal note, the Timex Ameritus Sport worked swimmingly (literally) on a woven strap. Other, cheap dive watch options exist too — see this option from Invicta. If watches aren’t your thing, no worries — more money left over for uh, other things.
In terms of protecting your eyes from the sun, match your shades to your activity. Diving around like crazy playing volleyball? Then maybe it is okay to wear some sport shades. If you’re casually lounging around, maybe tossing a football, then the shades should match accordingly. Keep in mind that those shades should take you around the area for the rest of the day. Assuming they’ll get sandy, dirty or wet, you’re going to want a pair that can take a pounding. A classic pair of AO Original Pilots rarely look bad, although the lenses might be too wide for some. If that’s too “Top Gun”-esque for you and you don’t mind potentially losing a pair, swinging by a store on your way out to the water will get you a cheap pair in hand for the day, for under the price of a 12-pack.
There’s clearly more to going to the beach than meets the eye, and it’s still an instance where carrying over style lessons applies. Just because you’re taking a day off from most actual clothing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take an interest in what you wear. Taking little steps forward while on a budget definitely helps you stand out in the right ways, even off-duty. Soak up some sun while you can.