FREEDOM! As the summer months roll on in, warm weather continues to spread throughout the country. Soon enough, parties by the pool and beach trips will be on the agenda, and you need to have a plan. There is a LOT of variety and flexibility in a smart or business casual wardrobe, but aquatic situations are another story.
Creative freedom should be cultivated and encouraged, but within the bounds of reasonable parameters. Choose the right pair of swim shorts, and you’ll be a stylistic cut above the average Joe. Choose the wrong pair, and it will look like you’re headed to a reality TV pool party in the mid 2000’s. The absolute number one thing to consider when choosing swimwear:
A simple rule for deciding what length to choose- aim for 2″ short of the length of your casual shorts. The shorter your shorts, the taller you’ll look, and when you’re shirtless on the sand, you want the only thing you’re wearing to accentuate your features rather than drown them out.
Additionally, look for a straight or even tapered leg. The last thing you want is your short bottoms billowing out. Baggy bottoms do no favor for your physique, and are extremely uncomfortable. All picks below have mesh liners in order to keep your dongle from whippin’ and dippin’ like a piece of rogue corrugated aluminum in a hurricane.
So, what to wear when you’re getting wet?
These are my #1 choice and my personal go-to for swimwear. A true do-everything short. These work just as well on the beach as they do walking through a stream on a hike, and I even wear mine at the gym. Extremely durable and fast-drying, the situational flexibility these provide make them an essential item for anyone venturing outdoors this summer. I like the spiced coral, better known as “red,” for their classic lifeguard look. Note: There ARE some sizes on sale via Backcountry. Big thanks to Brandon D. for the tip!
The absolute opposite of the Patagonia pair mentioned above. I had to fight with Joe to include this one (not really), as they’re not very “dappered.” But, lets add some context here. You’re wearing a pair of swim shorts. It is very likely you’re shirtless, in a tank top, or a t-shirt with a drink in hand at a poolside barbeque or laying on the beach. This is the very definition of relaxation and letting loose (for some), so it’s acceptable for your attire to match. They key here with a big print is to lean into nostalgia and campy-ness. These brash 90’s shorts certainly excel. Not to mention, the quality of the short is exceptional. Huge amounts of stretch, and quick to dry. I own this exact pair (as shown at the top of the post, that’s a size medium on 5’7″ / 175 lbs) and adore them.
When the night may call for anything: J.Crew 7″ Pool Short – $34.75 w/ GETAWAY ($69.50)
These have huge potential. Button closure and traditional fly, with almost-chino-short looks, makes these the pick of the season for quick transitions between getting wet at the pool and getting wet at the hotel bar. When dry, the crowd you’re with would be hard-pressed to know
these are swim shorts. J.Crew claims these are made in a “quick-drying nylon,” and I have not the slightest clue if these actually dry quickly, but if you have experience, let us know. If they do, these are a real winner.
For some subtle flair: Land’s End 6″ Shell Print Trunk – $19.97 w/ TROPICAL & 6489 ($39.95)
Great shade of green on these in an attractive all-over shell print. I own a pair of Land’s End trunks in this length, albeit in a solid color, and they’re a great option at a lower price than others on this list. Beware, they offer little to no stretch, so they’re less comfortable than options with some stretch if you plan to be more active. I also found they dry a little slower than my pairs from Patagonia and Chubbies. Best use for these are by the pool, when you might have time to change before the rest of the evening’s festivities kickoff.
Expensive, but well reviewed and style that won’t ever quit. Navy with white stripe is as classic as it gets (along with solid red) for swim shorts. A fixed waist, so less stretch and might be odd to fit if you’re between sizes, but you can cinch it down a bit with the draw strings. If you’re looking for a retro pair and get the fit right, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better looking option.
If you love Flint & Tinder and are looking for a basic Made in the USA pair with all-day functionality, this is it. Adding spandex to this pair gives some much appreciated stretch when you’re on the move by the pool, on the boardwalk, or grabbing a bite to eat after some sun in the sand. A drawstring and stretch waistband provides a customized, secure fit. These, especially in Navy or the Jungle Green shown above, could pass for climbing, or even gym shorts. Also available in a bright, Baywatch red. 7.5″ inseam, so they’re right on the edge of as long as most should go.