This post is all about how men’s swim trunks should fit, and where to buy a great pair for your body type.
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!
In my opinion, swim shorts that go past the knee are too long, especially for shorter men.
You want your clothing to make your legs to look longer, not shorter. Long board shorts, for example, will have the opposite effect.
We’re going to look at:
- How men’s swim trunks should fit
- Which colors and patterns are best
- Where to buy swim trunks
To start, here’s one of my favorite pairs of trunks:
I love these swim shorts because they’re a nice color and have a classic polka dot patterns. More importantly, they fit great.
Men’s Swim Trunks Fit
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 (I prefer a traditional drawstring over a velcro fly).
Thigh – Not skin tight, but not too much excess material either. Mobility is important, so don’t sacrifice comfort for a super slim fit!
Length – 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 because. 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 but, 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.
For example, one of my favorite famous short men, Ben Stiller, wears long/loose board shorts, which don’t do anything to emphasize a pretty impressive physique:
In contrast, looks at Donald Glover (who’s about the same height) in shorter, more fitted trunks:
One more thing about fit: try to avoid super low rise swim trunks. Unless you have super long legs and a relatively short torso, wearing swim shorts down on your hips isn’t a great idea.
To learn more about rise and how it affects your look, read this article I wrote for Primer Magazine:
Instead, wear them a couple of inches below your belly button for a more classy, timeless and manly look.
Colors, Patterns & Style
Now that you’ve nailed the fit, let’s talk color. First off, stay away from large scale patterns, color blocking and thick horizontal stripes.
While you’re at it, 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. Since you’ll probably only own a couple of pairs of swim trunks at any given time, it might be a good idea to stick with versatile colors (navy, burgundy, grey, etc.).
Of course, feel free to have some fun with colors and prints!
To get an idea of what brands might work for you, watch this video of me trying on a bunch of different swim trunks from H&M, Gap, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and more:
For quick reference, here’s a list of swim trunks that I think are solid choices, especially for shorter men:
- H&M short (very short, Euro fit)
- H&M swim trunks (above the knee, slim fit)
- Club Monaco Arlen 4″ Swim Trunk
- ASOS Teal Swim Shorts (mid-length)
- ASOS New Look Swim Shorts (short, navy)
- Original Penguin Foulard Volley Trunk (above the knee, slim)
- A&F Printed Trunks (short, cool prints)
- Sunspel Short Navy (pricey, supposedly awesome)
- Outlier New Way Shorts (also pricey, supposedly awesome)
These all meet the criteria I’ve laid out in this article – the fit well and look great on the shorter frame, and they’re relatively timeless, in terms of style.
Go get yourself some trunks!
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!