Photographer: Tim Schutsky/Bloomberg Business

The Right Way to Wear Swim Trunks This Summer

And 24 handsome ones to choose from.

If you've made it this far into summer and haven't had the opportunity to pull on a pair of swim trunks, it's time to go shopping. As they say, "Sky's out, thighs out." (Actually, no one says that.) 

Your bathing suit should be playful; the beach or the pool is the perfect venue to embrace a pattern, print, or bright summer color you wouldn't typically wear. Before you select your trunks, here are the extreme basics: Trunks come in three standard lengths: short, mid-length, and long. (It's OK if you have to take notes.)


These variations are available at, which is a helpful site offering many sizing options.

Illustration: Evan Ortiz/Bloomberg; Shorts: Orlebar Brown
  • Short trunks usually have an inseam between 3 and 5 inches. They also cut trimmer and are more fitted, so be prepared to show some leg. They should hug your butt and your thighs—if not, they will look unflattering, so be sure to get ones with a snug fit.
  •  Mid-length swim trunks are usually 5 to 7.5 inches. These can come both standard and fitted, depending on your size and shape, and the hem should land well above your knee. With these, wear whatever tightness makes you most comfortable.
  • Long swim trunks are about 8.5 inches or longer. Also known as board shorts, these are usually loose, and the hem hits right past above your knee. Once again, don't go for a pair that's too baggy.

Elastic Drawstrings vs. Snap 

Source: Onia

For a few years, elastic waist swim trunks were looked down upon as old-fashioned and sloppy looking. But this is no longer the case. It's a more casual look, but it can also be much more comfortable and form-forgiving. Your trunks should hang right at your waist, not necessarily squeezing it. You'll look more relaxed and less like you're trying hard, but you can still wear the same fresh patterns as those on flat-waist trunks.  

The alternative, a snap with a fastened buckle, makes the swimsuit look and feel like any pair of shorts. "The Calder snap-front style was designed to mimic a chino short, allowing you to wear them throughout your day without noticing they're actually swim trunks," explains Carl Cunow, the co-founder and creative director of luxury swimwear brand Onia. You can wear a pair of these with a linen shirt to a yacht party or dress it down with a plain T-shirt to the beach. 

Here are 24 flattering bathing suits you should wear this July 4 (and all summer long). Don't forget to pack sunscreen and to entrust your back only to those with sure hands.  



(1) Seersucker swim trunk, Southern Tide, $85,; (2) Maui printed swim trunks, Loro Piana, $485,; (3) Cream navy and blue stripe, Solid & Striped, $150,; (4) Zigzag swimsuit, Missoni, $360,; (5) Webbing-trimmed short-length swim trunks, Gucci, $495,; (6) Bulldog in chambray, Orlebar Brown, $265,

Illustration: Evan Ortiz/Bloomberg; Shorts: Vendors

These batch of swim trunks are generally short and fun, with nautical stripes or amusing prints. They look good on their own, but also pair well with a solid polo. If you like this look, also check out the trunks at Penguin, Vineyard Vines, and Vilebrequin.

Bold Prints


(1) Arlem short-length printed swim shorts, Club Monaco, $100,; (2) Noronha sports swim trunks, Frescobol Carioca, $191.37,; (3) Zigzag swim trunks, Retromarine, $155,; (4) Superflex multicolor turtles, Vilberquin, $280,;(5) Cabo swim trunks, Slate & Stone, $98,; (6) Palm Silhouette calder 7.5, Onia, $175,








Illustration: Evan Ortiz/Bloomberg; Shorts: Vendors

As mentioned previously, when it comes to swim shorts, you want to try something adventurous. Try an abstract pattern such as the Frescobol Carioca or a pop of palm trees as on the Onia trunks. Vilebrequin is also a great resource for many options here. 



(1) Pocket Evolution trunk, Outerknown, $95,; (2) Classic board short in starfruit, Faherty, $125,; (3) Draupner trunk in coral, Everest Isles, $235,; (4) 9” board short in oxford stripe, J.Crew, $75,; (5) Ennis board short, Saturdays Surf NYC, $75,; (6) Striped long-length swim shorts, Thom Browne, $430, 


Illustration: Evan Ortiz/Bloomberg; Shorts: Vendors

For a wide variety of board shorts, try J.Crew or one of the traditional surfwear brands, such as Ocean Pacific or Ron Jon



(1) Earl swim volley, Original Penguin, $69,; (2) Quarta Slinger, Volcom, $60,; (3) Lace-up rainbow swim shorts, Saint Laurent, $446,; (4) Mid-length swim trunk, Sundek, $120,; (5) Color block swim, Jack Spade, $98,; (6) Striped swim trunk, Hartford, $180,







Illustration: Evan Ortiz/Bloomberg; Shorts: Vendors

Like contemporary menswear, swimwear is inspired by sportswear, whether it's a side panel or a racer stripe across the suit. Take these to the beach with a football or a soccer ball, and you'll get the right kind of attention. For a wide variety of looks and sizes, Parke & Ronen has dozens and dozens of options. 

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