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How To Wear Swim Trunks

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With the official beginning of summer now a couple of weeks behind us, the heat has really started to kick in. Under normal circumstances, lots of Philadelphians would be heading to the Jersey shore for some well-deserved fun in the sun.

young muscular man in black swim trunksCircumstances aren’t normal, though. Beach openings and re-closings change every day. Pools at social clubs and gyms may or may not be open given a particular state or municipality’s COVID-19 guidelines du jour. Still, you may very well find yourself in a position to wear a bathing suit. It’s always best to project your most impactful image, so you need to know how to wear one well.

How To Wear Swimming Trunks – Length Is Key

white man in bathing suit rides trolleyBottom line up front: mid-thigh is a good bathing suit length for most men’s tastes and body types.

Swim trunks are more than just shorts that you can get wet. While much of the advice we give on proper shorts length would make sense, swim trunks need more attention. More on this below.

In terms of proportion, the idea is simple. Swim trunks should end above the wearer’s knee regardless of his stature, but big guys can wear longer shorts, and small guys can wear shorter shorts. Sticking to this guideline will ensure that big men’s height and weight are minimally accentuated, while small men won’t appear as small as they are.

Regardless of your size, we advise you to wear swim trunks that show a bit more leg than your standard pair of shorts. Why is this? One reason we go to the beach or hang out by the pool is to get some sun, and the more covered up you are, the less sun you’ll get. Long shorts are antithetical to getting sun on your legs, and we advise generous use of sunscreen before wearing a bathing suit that reaches past your knees.

Also, it’s hot outside. Barring extremely sensitive skin, why would you want to cover yourself up any more than necessary?

Men’s Swimming Trunk Colors

young man wearing light swim trunksSwim trunks are about as casual as clothing gets. As such, we say that your color choice should only be dictated by what strikes you and syncs with your personality. If you’re a quiet introvert, blues, reds, and greys are great options for you. If you’re a bolder dresser and don’t mind some attention, go for brighter colors. Your only limit should be what’s available on the market, not an arbitrary color list.

With that said, there’s a real color consideration to make as it relates to heat. Dark colors absorb heat, while light colors reflect it. As such, it’s wise to opt for lighter colors instead of darker ones since these will keep you incrementally cooler.

What Not To Wear

Though swim trunks are casual and thus not subject to strict rules, there are a couple of styles that we think should be avoided:

Board shorts

Board shorts are essentially long swim trunks. They’re associated with surfers, hence the name. These shorts go down to at least the knee and are largely worn by young guys – think teens and early twenties.


man wearing black speedos at a poolThough big in Europe, speedos never made it here in the US. If Americans could travel to Europe this summer we could get away with them. But seeing as that’s now relatively unlikely, it’s best to leave speedos to competitive swimmers who are taking every step to ensure they’re swimming at their fastest.

Further Reading

We hope this post on bathing suits was helpful. Reach out to us at 215-310-0219 or info@henrydavidsen.com for any image- or clothing-related questions. In the meantime, enjoy these other posts:

Please consider supporting those that have been displaced due to COVID-19 to get back on their feet with a donation to Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign.  $50 provides a full interview outfit for an individual seeking employment.

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