You a speedo kind of guy? Me neither. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not my thing, you know?
Don’t get me wrong, I like to show a little thigh. In fact, the older I get, the shorter my trunks get. No more past-the-knees board shorts for me.
Swim shorts that go past the knee are way too long for shorter men. You want my legs to look longer, not shorter. And swim trunks that are too long definitely make you look shorter.
This post explains exactly how men’s swim shorts are supposed to fit, and what kind of colors and patterns look best on shorter-than-average men.
Let’s start with a photo of some of my favorite trunks:
I love these swim shorts because they fit great. Here’s a rundown of how each part of your swim trunks should fit:
Waist – Just tight enough that they stay up without having to use the drawstring.
Length – This is the most important part of swimwear fit for men. If you only take only one thing away from this article, remember:
Swim trunks should never go past your knee.
In fact, they shouldn’t even hit your knee. They should end somewhere between two and four inches above the top of your knee cap. Look for trunks with a 5-8″ inseam.
Leg Opening – This is almost as important as length. Just like pants, if the leg opening is too wide, your legs will look thin and wimpy (especially if you have skinny legs like me). Many American brands have wide leg openings.
Unless you have super muscular thighs, you probably need a slim leg opening. It should be wide enough for your the shorts to slide up and down your legs (like when you sit down and stand up, for example), but narrow enough so they don’t billow out.
Think about the shape you want to create. You want your swim shorts to follow the natural shape of your body, rather than masking or distorting it.
Let’s get some famous short men to help illustrate the importance of fit. Can you tell who nailed it?
One more thing about fit: don’t wear low rise trunks. For most men, this isn’t a flattering look. Unless you have super long legs and a relatively short torso, wearing swim shorts down on your hips isn’t a great idea.
Instead, wear them a couple of inches below your belly button for a more classy, timeless and manly look.
Now that you’ve nailed the fit, let’s talk color. First off, stay away from large scale patterns, color blocking and horizontal stripes. Also, try to avoid unnecessary bulk, like cargo pockets. Here are some examples of what not to wear:
Instead, solid colors and small scale patterns/prints are perfect. Like these:
- Topman Blue Swim Shorts
- Club Monaco 6″ Board Short
- H&M Swim Shorts
- ASOS Short Swim Shorts
- Hugo Boss Tuna Swim Shorts
- Selected Classics Gingham Shorts
Some details, like zip-up pockets or a sunglasses loop (shown in the photo above) are okay. Just keep them subtle.
Swim shorts are just like any other article of clothing. It’s all about fit, proportion and scale. Just remember this: no man looks good in long, bulky swim trunks.
Stick to shorter trunks, solid colors and small scale patterns, and don’t be afraid to show some leg.
How short is too short? Share your opinion in the comments section!