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It’s officially spring, and warmer temperatures already have office-bound workers dreaming of summer Fridays and seasonally appropriate frozen cocktails. Those rare days at the beach are few and far between, so it’s only right that you pick up a new swimsuit. Considering you probably haven’t let go of the oversized board shorts you’ve had since high school, it’s about time you did anyway.
I was recently in the same situation. For a few years, I didn’t even have a swimsuit due to the fact that I lived in the middle of Iowa, nowhere near an attractive body of water or swimmable pool. A couple of years ago, I picked up a simple navy and white striped pair of swim shorts from American Apparel. They’re nothing special, but they were different from any swimsuit I had in the past: I was no longer drowning in fabric, let alone the pool.
As us men have matured, so have the swimsuits. These days, the trunks are shorter, slimmer, and look — and perform — more like shorts than you might expect. So if you’re looking to upgrade your current swimsuit situation, these should top your list.
If You Prefer Plain to Prints
The popular Hawaiian flower prints of the past have all but disappeared. In their place have cropped up exceedingly simple solids that anyone can wear. Minimal is the mission of Everlane’s Swim Short ($48), which comes in a loud red, deep navy, and army gray.
You might expect an extreme print from extreme sports brand Hurley, but its One and Only Volley shorts ($40) are eminently wearable and come with a back pocket for any valuables you don’t want to store in your shoes. Uniqlo’s Swim Active Shorts ($29.90) are another great option, with a variety of colors to choose from. And classic tennis brand Lacoste makes its own agreeable Swim Shorts ($59) that don’t break the bank, either.
If You Need to Pull Double Duty
The new swimsuit can look as at home on the sand as it does in the city. Tracksmith’s Longfellow Short ($90) may be designed for running, but it wicks away sweat, repels water, and stretches with ease to make the transition from the beach to the bar as painless as possible.
With a variety of colors and a slightly longer hem, the Onia Charles 7” ($130) plays the part of shorts well, and Everest’s Isles Mayol trunks ($255) come with zippered pockets and skip the inner mesh lining of most suits in favor of full-on commando — which seems counterintuitive, but works with surprising success thanks to a slim thigh. Don’t worry, your privates will stay private.
If You — Yes, You — Like Short Shorts
H&M’s upscale offshoot COS makes some Lightweight Swim Shorts ($59) that are fast-drying and not too slim (or too short). Fast-fashion competitor Zara makes its own Printed Swim Shorts ($29.90) that are *quite* short and come equipped with a palm tree print that bring the beach to wherever you’re at.
For the guy looking to channel his inner James Bond, Sunspel’s Swim Shorts ($210) are suave enough to make 007 himself jealous.
If You Can’t Leave the Boardshorts Behind
While the cargo short-like boardshorts have fallen out of favor, even the standby brands have updated their selections. Billabong’s Sundays X Boardshorts ($54.95) take us back to the days of Bruce Weber-era Abercrombie & Fitch ads without the baggy, mall-brand feel.
Even new-age swimwear maker Orlebar Brown offers a fuller cut with its Dane Maritime Long-Length Swim Shorts ($245) that give off an air of adulthood rather than adolescence. 2(x)ist’s Jogger Board Shorts ($85) add a more subdued print and slimmer leg to a typically bold boardshort canvas.
If Your Shorts Need to Be Loud and Proud
Maybe minimal isn’t your bag. Maybe you believe the bright sunshine of a beautiful day should be reflected in your trunks. If so, check out Mr. Turk’s San Simeon Beach Short ($188) — its geometric pattern pairs well with a posh poolside cocktail. For something just as colorful but not as busy, J.Crew’s 9” Board Short ($65) comes in some more approachable stripes
Perhaps you like your patterns a bit more abstract? Saturdays’ Timothy Marks Swim Shorts ($85) feel like a monochrome Kandinsky painting that up your art cred without a single art history course.