When the summer sun (finally) starts to show up on these shores in the coming season, a few backstrokes in your local lido, members’-club spa, or, for the jetsettsers, the Blue Lagoon will come as a welcome respite. And while a number of men aren’t exactly in support of showcasing some calf, sometimes the unforgiving, balmy climes dictate that we must, whether we’re in the water or taking refuge under a parasol.
As a result, a pair of swim shorts are a seasonal essential. There are rules, though. Generally speaking, we say that it’s best to eschew the surfer-style fits that are baggy and shapeless in silhouette; on the other end of the spectrum, a Y-front is best reserved for those with a certain degree of nonchalance and, let’s say, self-assurance. Moreover, in broad terms, for something that is workable in both an urban-pool setting or balmier afternoons on the Costa Brava, we’d always recommend a tailored cut for a sleeker, more considered look, something that ends anywhere between the mid-thigh and just above the knee; the type of fit with which Gentleman’s Journal shop is flush, so at least your decision on that front is covered.
But then, when it comes to colour and pattern, there are myriad options. Here, to cover your bases and help you navigate this most tricky of sartorial waters, we’ve rounded up nine of the best swim shorts to invest in right now, from wear-anywhere-with-anything failsafes to those with more vibrant aesthetics.
For the man who likes to keep things safe but timeless
A dependable option when it comes to swimwear is to opt for a goes-with-anything pair that is tailored like your favourite chinos. The Deia, from new sustainable label Gusari, is a pretty good place to start, with its timeless navy colourway and pared-back design, which, apart from its D-hoop function, remains spare, allowing you to wear it with a more bold-patterned Cuban-collar shirt, or, if you want to double-down on the simplicity, a plain-hued knitted polo when at the cabana. Also consider these two other options that are made with subtle details that have understated, dressier features: The St. Barts, also by Gusari, includes two pin tucks at the front, while Hemingsworth’s Gurkha swim shorts feature double pleats on each thigh. Given their neutral, dark tones and blank-canvas-style nature, you’ll likely get the most wear and usage out of any one of these choices – or, consider grabbing all three, if you need a few pairs on rotate.
Gusari The Deia
Hemingsworth Navy Gurkha Swim Short
For the slightly more adventurous
The purpose of shorts, generally speaking, is of comfort, and it’s a piece of clothing that evokes images of languorous waterside days or breezy walks through Iberian villages – so, you may want to consider something with a more vibrant, whimsical design. At this point we should mention that you should bear in mind that spirited patterns shouldn’t equate to comical or slipshod. A top pick of ours is by Italian maker Ripa Ripa, whose Ravello, made from soft, brushed fabric, keeps things on the right side of colourful, and we’ve also taken a liking to Apnée Swimwear's Ocean 50M, which comes in a melange of contrasting yet complementary tones – better still, it's crafted from 100% upcycled plastic collected from the Mediterranean. Another favourite is Apnée’s Brise, which comes in a medium-blue style and is embellished in a geometric pattern that seemingly takes its cues from the water’s reflection, a design that is bold without making too much of a statement. Given that these choices are a bit busier, in aesthetic terms, than their pared-back counterparts, they’re best worn with more muted pieces, such as Birkenstocks.
Ripa Ripa Ravello
Apnée Swimwear Ocean 50M
Apnée Swimwear Brise, Blue
For those who wants to brighten things up
The landscape of summer dressing is often dictated by items in loud shades. If you are looking to inject some colour into your sartorial palette, but are erring on the side of caution, we suggest eschewing the garish, brash hues and instead going for toned-down or more pastel-focused pieces. The St. Barts shorts also arrive in a light-hued yellow (neither too neon, nor too deep in saturation) that look best in tropical climates, where they can be best complemented by the sunshine and the surrounding warm colours – or you can channel your inner Bond with the light-blue option. Also consider Apnée’s offering in a Bordeaux red, which makes for a slight change from the ocean of beige and stone cargo shorts seen in marinas and docks the world over, and the two corozo rubber buttons and an adjustable buckle add understated finesse.
Apnée Swimwear Enzo, Bordeaux
Need to brighten up your wardrobe a bit more this season? These are the 6 colours you should be wearing now…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.