How to Choose The Right Swim Trunks

Summer is officially here and with it the days of lounging by the pool or stretching your toes out in the sand. But with the season traditionally characterized by warm weather and sunny days comes the decision around choosing the right swim trunk. Now before I get too deep into this, and to avoid the inevitable jeers, I’m not saying we need to debate which type of swim suit is optimal for tanning or which color will trick others into thinking you’re tanner than you are (helpful hint: avoid white). No, I’m talking about deciding on the right suit for your body type. It might seem silly but considering you’re probably going to spend a significant amount of time in it, shouldn’t you look good in it? The answer is hell yes! Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which trunk to spend your summer in.


This might be the single most important factor when picking out a swim trunk, and it’s completely dependent on your body type. If you’re a taller guy, which we can loosely define as anyone over 6’1”, or a beefy guy, you should probably avoid the 5-6” trunk that has become so popular. Yes, the shorter length is cool and harks back to the time when surfing was first gaining in popularity but for bigger guys the look just doesn’t work. You’ll end up looking like you forgot your suit and had to borrow a child’s trunks. Instead, choose a style that gives you some much needed inches and hovers around a 7-9” inseam. You’ll still have a huge selection to choose from but you won’t have to worry about showing any areas that would be better left covered. Check these out: J.Crew / Scotch & Soda

For thinner or shorter men, the shorter length works well since it’s all about proportion. For thinner guys it looks more natural with your body—looking like your swimming in your trunks when you’re well, eh, swimming is the last thing you want. Same goes for shorter guys. The shorter you are the shorter your trunks should be (but we’re not talking speedos fellas). The shorter length shows more leg and therefore makes you look like you have longer legs and give the illusion of being taller. The mind is a funny thing… Check these out: Bather Trunk Co.


For years women have been stressing about clothing and how it fits their bodies and while I’m certainly against shaming anyone based on their body, there are nuggets of wisdom if you sift through all the nonsense. As far as swimwear for men goes, there are only a few styles: a traditional swim trunk, a surf trunk, and a board short. We aren’t even going to discuss speedos. No matter what fashion magazines say speedos remain something reserved for competitive swimmers. If you’re brave enough to bare that much when you’re traveling abroad then more power to you. But getting back to the main swim styles… A traditional swim trunk is easily identifiable by its elastic waistband. This style has gotten pretty popular but, for the big and tall, beware the added fabric that can sometimes accompany elastic waistbands. The added fabric can sometimes stick out to the sides and can lead to you looking like you’re wearing a tutu. Best to stick to a surf trunk which has more of a flat waistband, or a board short. Thin guys that could benefit from added bulk, feel free to rock the swim trunk elastic waistband and all.


Now this is almost entirely based upon opinion so do with it what you will. I say go for whatever your heart desires. You want to wear a bold print swim trunk? You go for it. I’d do a pair of these. But here are some basic rules to keep in mind:

Only the darkest and tannest among us can pull off white (and lighter colors). Not a concern? You go for it.

Horizontal stripes make you look wider no matter where they’re located. In a t-shirt they make me look like I spend hours bench pressing. When they’re going across your butt? Well you get the idea. Best to stick to color blocks versus stripes.

The safest choice will always be a solid, but have some fun with a small print like a polka dot.

Picking out a swim trunk to spend your summer in shouldn’t be stressful. Just like summer itself, it should be effortless and fun. Having some of these things in mind can help keep it that way.


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