Even if you don’t swim, everyone needs to pack some swimwear on their summer holiday. Lounging by the pool or tanning on the beach demands comfortable, cool and quick-drying clothing that won’t fill up with sand and keeps you looking stylish while relaxing abroad. So, here’s our quick guide to picking out the best men’s swimwear this season:
Styles of swimwear
Different holiday destinations have different style codes: for example, in Ibiza swim shorts of all types are seen everywhere while, in some countries, most notably France, if you go to a public pool you may be required to wear tight-fitting swimwear.
Briefs, trunks and jammers
These tight-fitting lycra models are ideal for sport swimming as they don’t fill with water. Briefs (aka “Speedo style”) offer the least coverage, trunks are more square cut and may extend down the thigh, while jammers are the longest cut and some designs reach down to the knee. Most people usually leave this sort of swimwear at home and prefer something looser and less fitted for holiday swimming.
Swim shorts come in varying lengths and cuts from a skimpy high-leg cut (often referred to as classic, retro or volley short) to a long length Bermuda or boardshort style that reaches to the knee. Most fall to mid-thigh and have an internal mesh brief to offer additional support, while some come with handy zip pockets which can be useful for a few coins or keys.
Board shorts are a type of swim short that is usually a longer length and has a drawstring waist. They often don’t have the internal mesh, and some prefer to wear brief-style swimwear underneath.Trunks can refer to tight cut swimwear or a type of swim short that is mid-thigh in length, often with an elasticated rather than drawstring waist.
Most swimwear is made from polyester or nylon as it is quick to dry and doesn’t hold water, but lycra or elastane is used for tighter fitting swimwear to stop it from going baggy. Polyester swim shorts are typically preferred for use in swimming pools, as nylon is not chlorine-resistant, which leads to colour fade and the fabric degradation.
Swimwear is usually sized using relative sizing – small, medium, large, etc. – so if you aren’t sure which size you need, you should check the manufacturer’s size guide. Some styles are sold, like shorts and trousers, by waist size. As waists are usually elasticated or adjustable, you may find sizing up or down offers the most comfortable fit depending on your hip and thigh measurements.
Almost anything goes when it comes to swim shorts. Board shorts are traditionally brightly patterned – often with floral motifs. Stripes are fashionable this year, and if you want to choose a pair of shorts that won’t look dated, you can’t go too wrong with black or navy and white colourways.
In Italy, it is common for swim caps to be worn, so you may wish to pack one. Lycra caps are more comfortable to wear than silicone or latex. You may also want to pack a pair of goggles, since these are essential if you are training and useful if you want to see underwater at any time. Make sure they fit and are comfortable, or they will let water in.
If you’ve got a bit of extra space in your suitcase, then an easy-to-use snorkel mask allows you to snorkel with a reduced risk of breathing in water.