How to Look Great in Swim Trunks

It’s hot as hell out there, and the best remedy for hot-as-hell is to hit the nearest cool body of water. Whether you’re lounging poolside or wrestling the waves at the beach, one thing is certain: you’re mostly naked... or partially clothed. However you want to see it, there’s not much skin to hide, so why not make the most of the situation by selecting stylish swim trunks that flatter your body and make you look good?

 H&M

H&M

It would be nice to have a perfect body, but let’s face it – you probably don’t (hey, ain’t nothing wrong with that!). Fortunately, the men’s swimwear category has never been hotter, with lots of great brands offering stylish swimwear in figure-flattering cuts that help camouflage your bad bits and enhance the good. 

So no matter what your body mass index, beat out the heat index with these 5 tips on how to look great in swim trunks.

 

1. Go Shorter and Slimmer

 Orlebar Brown

Orlebar Brown

I know this isn’t what you like to have in mind when referring to the lower part of your anatomy, but when it comes to swim trunks, extra length and girth only earn you negative style points. 

You may think you’re hiding your flaws in extra large baggy board shorts that ride below your knees, but in reality, you’re only accentuating everything you don’t want to call out.

If you’re a skinny dude, you’ll look like a stick with chicken legs – and short chicken legs at that. If you’re tall, it’ll do funky things with your proportions, like make you look like your midsection is a mile long. If you’re a big guy with a gut, you'll look sloppy. Even if you’re a fit big guy, you'll only add extra unwanted bulk. And if you’re short, don’t be surprised if the lifeguard rescues you from drowning in too much swimsuit. Even with a perfect body, unless you're 18 and under, oversized trunks will make you look juvenile and untidy at best.

You'll know when you have the right fit when the swimsuit hugs your body comfortably and the leg opening is slim, but not tight. The two most universally flattering lengths either hit 2-3 inches above your knees or rest mid-thigh.

 

2. Tailoring Isn’t Just for the Office

  Orlebar Brown

Orlebar Brown

The tailored look is everywhere, and there’s good reason why. A great fit makes you look fantastic and feel confident, and your swimsuit is no exception. If you have any experience with tailored garments, you know that a closer fit effectively trims you down and makes you stand a little taller.

Swimwear maker Orlebar Brown essentially spearheaded the tailored swim movement, and is still the best in its class. Designed like a lean pair of tailored shorts, these trunks are cut trim, with an adjustable buckled waist for a precise fit.

As an added bonus, the resemblance to regular shorts allows most styles to reasonably transition from a swim in the ocean to cocktails on the boardwalk without the need to change bottoms.

  Orlebar Brown

Orlebar Brown

 

3. Go Easy on the Elastic

 H&M

H&M

A clean, flat-front waistband sits nice and quiet and doesn’t call attention to your middle, whereas an elastic waistband mercilessly grabs at any fat cells around your tummy, making anything above or below your midsection balloon out.

Stay away from elastic waistbands if you house soft flesh around the middle, but if you still want the comfort of a flexible waistband, either opt for a drawcord tie with very minimal bunching at the waist (above) or a flat-front version with flat laces (below).

 

4. Be Bold with Color

 Saturdays

Saturdays

Solid trunks are great because they’re simple and always in good taste. If you want to appear slimmer, dark solid trunks are your best bet.

Simple and classic doesn’t have to be understated or boring. Make a statement with either a single eye-catching pop of color or blocks of colors. Unlike loud prints, a splash of energizing color(s) makes you confidently stand out without screaming for attention.

 

5) Make Patterns Work for You

 Orlebar Brown

Orlebar Brown

If you want more options in your swimwear rotation, make one a pattern or print. It doesn’t have to be crazy and obnoxious, but a tasteful approach can say loads about your personality and often, your sense of humor. 

As with all clothing, remember these 3 basic rules of optics:

• Horizontal patterns make you appear wider

• Vertical patterns help trim you down

• Match the scale of the pattern to your body size (e.g., giant prints on big guys only)

Lastly, here’s a great GQ slideshow, "How to Buy a Swimsuit" that will help you go further with what I cover here, as well as show you more examples of how to upgrade your swimwear style. Enjoy!

[Hover over each image to view product info.]