The murky waters of swimwear can be difficult to navigate. If it’s not budgie smugglers or boardshorts, it’s gaudy patterns and ratty drawstrings that are averting eyes and diverting gazes. British men and beachwear have always had a rocky relationship because of the inherent aversion to getting it right. As our summers are as fleeting as the preservation of a ‘no bombing’ rule at the local baths and the beaches often require a parka and hiking boots to step foot on, there are excuses to hold accountable. But that’s not to say the missteps have to continue en-masse forever.
When it’s the only item of clothing you’re wearing though, it’s best to make a good go of it. In an effort to not fall foul of the faux-pas, Rik Van Donk, founder of carefree cool Australian swimwear brand, Mocha Salt, gives us the long and short of what’s good when it comes to beachwear:
“First the basics: a well-cut and properly fitting pair of shorts is not just more comfortable, it will make you look better. You don’t need an inch-perfect body to look great. You just need your clothes to fit. Not too tight and not too loose. So whatever your build and size, there are a few things to consider:
Go with a flat fronted shorts as baggy takes won’t hide anything and will just make you look scrawny if anything. Stay away from elastic waistbands if you’re a little softer in the middle, they only emphasise the man muffin top.
Choose trunks that don’t wing out at the bottom. Narrow leg openings create shape and minimise the unflattering fabric flapping around. Shorter is often better. A stylish pair of shorts should hit above the knee for a tailored look.”
Whether you’re vertically challenged or have your head in the clouds, this is how Rik recommends you dress to draw attention to or away from your stature:
“Taller men should try a mid-length short – a longer short just accentuates your height whilst a short short can look awkward. Medium height men can look good in all lengths, as long as the shorts hit above the knee. If you are shorter, be brave. A shorter short is definitely the way forward as long and baggy will just swamp you.”
There is of course a difference between a shorter short and a short short, never don anything that’ll risk indecent exposure, a short ending at the middle of the high is about as low as any gentleman should.
Height isn’t the only consideration. Once you’ve settled on a length of short, you’ve got to dress to best suit your girth. Whether you’re wearing a top or not, the right pair of shorts can do a lot for your upper body, as much they do below the belt.
“If you’re a bit scrawny, all you have to do is make sure you don’t have too much swimsuit – an oversized short will make you look even smaller. What you want are short trunks with narrow leg openings. If the suit’s too long you’ll look like you’re in hand-me-down Bermudas, and if the leg openings are too wide, you’ll look like you’re in a hand-me-down cheerleading skirt. So keep your trunks trim as you can, and feel free to experiment with statement patterns and colours,” notes Rik.
“If you’re soft in the middle, bet on black. Bright colours and patterns will draw attention to your heft, while dark colours help hide your size without sacrificing cool points. Resist the urge to overcompensate for your girth by hiding it under a pair of shorts that are too big or baggy. The leg openings should still be modest (comfortably so) and the shorts should hit a couple of inches above your knee.”
How do you know if they fit?
“A well-fitting pair of shorts will define shape and create a flattering profile no matter what your size or build. It might take some getting used to the first time you put on a tailored pair of shorts, but you’ll look better for it. It shouldn’t feel tight or restrict movement, but don’t be afraid to show a little shape and show off a little leg! Be confident. Our Huck shorts are cut for a tailored fit so size matters. Since waist sizes do not always match clothing sizes exactly, we’ve added side tabs that can adjust the waist up to 1 size down. So no matter your exact waist size, you’ll always have a snug and comfortable fit, tailored just for you.”