Real Swim Trunks, Real Men

Upon doing some research this morning, I became aware that the men’s world of swimwear is a fascinating one.  Who knew men took their swimwear so seriously?  Gay men, yes of course.  They’re checking out the goods.  But straight men too?  Seems like it.

We women have always had an array of choices for getting semi-naked and prancing around on the beach:

  • There’s the bikini.
  • The tankini.  A bikini on the bottom, a tank-top on the top.swim_dress
  • The swimsuit.
  • The swim dress.  This is a swimsuit with a skirt attached to the bottom.  The purpose I believe is to cover up more of your rear-end.  This was very popular during my youth with the moms at swim club.
  • And the swim-short combo.  This is a swim short with a bikini top.  It covers even more on the bottom than the swim dress while still letting people see your nice abs.  It’s like your hiny went to hell, but your midriff is still kicking it.

So that’s five choices we’ve got to cover up the flabby bits and to accentuate the sexy stuff.  Men, I’ve discovered have six, which for you mathematicians out there, is one more than us.l.l. bean

  • The basic swim trunk.  The is your L.L. Bean or Patagonia variety swim trunk with an elastic waste and a purpose for durability, not style.  These trunks are usually mid-thigh in a solid color like red or hunter green.  Men wear these shorts to canoe down the river, carry the canoe to base, and then hike up a mountain.  Obviously, looking good is not a major priority what with the canoe and the backpack.
  • boardshortsThe board shorts.  These swim trunks are longer, at least to the knee, in bright colors and vibrant designs.  Hawiaan Hibiscus flowers are a popular theme.  Board shorts hang low on the hip and declare their wearer cool, chill, and surf-tastic.  You don’t have to be a surfer to wear them, but you do have to have the hang loose mind frame.


  • The long swim trunk.  This is what happens when your basic swim trunk and your board short get together and have a baby.  They’re plainer in appearance than the surf short, but they still have the length and the style.  This is like ‘I voted for Obama, but I drive a BMW SUV and own a watch.’  Slightly hip, but still conservative.
  • The preppy swim trunk.  Picture J. Crew or Ralph Lauren and a beach in the Hamptons.  Blue lobstershorts with pink whales, tangerine short with Bermuda-green stripes, even seersucker or plaid shorts fit into this category.  I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for the preppy.  Bring on that Nantucket red.
  • male-speedo-03The briefs.  This swim trunk is usually worn by European or gay men.  It’s not a lot of short, but it is a lot of statement.  On the right man, it says “I will rock your socks off.”  But on the wrong man it’s more like roadkill.
  • The banana hammock.  To my utter glee/horror the banana hammock also comes in a thong variety.  As if the hammock wasn’t bad enough, some men have decided that that’s too much fabric and have consequently taken some away.  I’m not sure I can even blame the Europeans for this one.  mens_thong_combo1 It’s a look that screams Arnold Schwarzenegger.  You know he wears this around the pool at home.

So whoever you are out there, you real man you…I admire your choice in swim trunks.  Now that I realize how many choices you have and what that choice says about who you are, I’ll be paying much more attention.


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