Men’s swimwear is a problem of global proportions. It’s a matter that divides us, with nations around the world fiercely advocating one cut or style over another.
Take the Brazilians, for example. Unafraid of the speedo/budgie smuggler, thousands of Cariocas descend upon Rio’s beaches each summer in minuscule strips of fabric and a haze of baby oil and penile contours.
Then there’s Australia, where knee-grazing boardshorts are deemed not only acceptable, but genuinely cool. Surf brands may be dying a slow death outside of Newquay here in the UK, but our sources say the shame of the late 1990s is still alive and well in Sydney.
Somewhere between these two extremes are the square-cut, mid-length shorts you should be wearing – with a nod to the clean-lined simplicity of a Brazilian brief, and none of the unflattering fit of a boardshort. Best of both worlds.
Undoubtedly a wardrobe classic, this silhouette – whether tailored or sporty – flatters legs both beanpole and gym buff. Here, we’ve compiled this summer’s best options. Dive in.
ASOS Mid Length Burgundy Swim Shorts
Unless you’re dedicated enough to be a regular swimmer (or moneyed enough to be a regular vacationer), your swim shorts probably don’t see that much sunlight, which is why price is a big deciding factor when you’re buying a pair.
These burgundy beauties perfectly complement a tan without breaking the bank. Which means you’ll have more to spend at the swim-up bar.
Available at ASOS, priced £12.
Taslan Navy Swim Shorts
If you have fair skin that’s partial to sunburn, a bright red, pink or orange swim short will only exacerbate your body’s lobster hue – not ideal for the mandatory holiday Instagram.
This affordable pair from The Idle Man might still contrast with freshly fried skin, but their navy colouring will stop you looking like an Oompa Loompa.
Available at The Idle Man, priced £15.90.
Dan Ward Lightweight Asymmetrical Swim Shorts
If sports luxe is more your style, Dan Ward beats the competition hands down.
This sleek, clean-lined option boasts an elasticated waistband that’s been detailed with five needles to resist wear and a grosgrain loop to allow the shorts to be hung without deforming the fabric.
Available at Dan Ward, priced approximately £115.
Orlebar Brown Bulldog Fauna Parakeet Swim Shorts
The OG of smart men’s swim shorts, Orlebar Brown has been serving up the finest in poolside attire since 2007.
In addition to the brand’s member rewards scheme and concierge service, each of its pieces merges iconic design with unrivalled craftsmanship. Case in point, these Amazonian wonders complete with a smart mid-length fit and a double fused, four-part shaped waistband for extra comfort.
Available at Orlebar Brown, priced £195.
New Look Blue Contrast Trim Runner Swim Shorts
Punchy printed swim shorts aren’t for every man, so if you want a pair that offers a more subtle point of difference, try this old-school gym-inspired style from New Look.
Taking its cue from running shorts, it features a shade of blue that’s bold, yet not blinding, and a contrast white trim for a sporty edge.
Available at New Look, priced £12.99.