The Modern Gentleman’s Guide to Swimwear

The Modern Gentleman’s Guide to Swimwear

There may have been a time in history when the only swimwear option available for men was to go naked, in fact until the 19th century there were very few cultures that used a specific clothing shape or style to swim or take a bath

Luckily, a lot has changed in the swimwear industry over the last 100 years, and today the modern gentleman has more options than he ever had before.

Shifting from ugly one-piece suits to trendy trunksand board shorts, mens swimwear is quite a developed category for men's apparel. 

This creative video shows how mens swimwear styles has drastically evolved over the last century 

Modern Men Swimwear Styles

Today most men's swimwear brands strive to design products that are stylish, practical, and comfortable. And usually categorize their collection by the length and looseness of their cut.

Here is an overview of the most popular swimwear styles for men today:

1- Trunks

Trunks  are the most common men’s swimwear around the world. The term trunks goes back to a time when people used to wear long underwear that covered the entire “trunk” of their body, all the way down to their feet, and when they went swimming they would take off their clothes and go in their underwear…their trunks.

Today trunks look like your regular everyday shorts, but would typically be made from lightweight, quick-drying materials. With fitting lining inside the shorts. 

2- Boardshorts

Originally developed for board surfing - hence the name, duh!-  Boardshorts were designed to be as frictionless as possible, to minimize the chances of the surfer’s shorts getting caught on any part of the board while they’re surfing. But because of their slack fit and soft fabrics, a lot of men who don’t surf prefer to hit the beach in boardshorts rather than the traditional trunks.

Boardshorts are longer than trunks, usually in a length that comes to or past the knee, and unlike trunks, they often feature a drawstring waist rather than an elastic one. 

3- Swim briefs

Commonly called “speedos” after the famous brand that has been synonymously associated with this style for the last two decades. Swim briefs are tight, body-hugging swimsuits with a V-shaped front that barely covers your “man parts”. This type of swimsuits is  much more popular in Europe than North America.

4- Square-cut trunks

This style is a mix between swim briefs and traditional trunks, it has the same body-hugging style as a speedo, but is designed to provide more coverage. The legs are cut straight across for a more modest look than V-shaped swim briefs.

5- Jammers 

A jammer is a style of tight swimsuits mainly worn by competitive swimmers in competitions, as the form fitting design helps reduce drag and obtain speed advantages. 

They are generally knee-length, made of nylon and lycra/spandex material, but may be made of polyester, and have a form fitting design to reduce water resistance.

6- Wetsuits 

Wetsuits are a special type of all-body swimwear, made of rubber neoprene and designed to keep you warm when wet. Skin-tight  wetsuits are perfect for cold water sports because they allow you to have full range of motion while staying warm..  

7- Drysuits

Drysuits are a completely waterproof form of swimwear, they are designed to keep all water out completely like a shell, and are usually used by divers.

8- Rash guards 

Rash guards are athletic shirts made of spandex and nylon or polyester, and as the name implies, they are usually made from a UV-reflective fabric with a UPF rating, to protect the wearer against rashes caused by sunburns from extended exposure to the sun.

Rash guards are typically more loosely-fit than a wetsuit, and are generally used by water sports athletes such as surfers, kayakers, and paddle boarders. Most are.

9- Swim shirts 

are an upper-body-only version of a rash guard, and are gaining popularity as a sun and surf protection option for casual bathers.

All of the above styles can come in nearly any color or pattern imaginable, provided one is willing to shop around long enough. Traditional colors and patterns for men include solid navy blue, blue-and-white striping, and floral or Hawaiian-style prints.

Still, many men struggle through the process of buying a swimsuit, specially when they’re not sure of what they want, or what they should be looking for.

So, we have collected a list of the factors you need to consider when choosing a swimsuit for your favorite water activities:


  1. Choose your swimwear type based on your activity: How active you will be and how long you will be exposed to the sun are factors that will help guide your choices. If you’re going to spend a lot of time wrestling waves or surfing, then try to pick a one-piece suit or a top with racerback or criss-cross straps so your suit will stay secure.  

  2. Decide how much exposure you want: For example, if you’re planning on spending a few days at a beach resort, with day-long periods of lounging and activities on the beach, then you would want to have extra coverage from the long exposure to sun rays, something like a rashguard or a swim shirt and board shorts that you can pull over your swim trunks when you’ve had enough of the sun.

  3. Decide what fabric and design features you want: Quick-drying fabrics make it easy to go from playing in the water to lounging poolside. Zipped board-short pockets come in handy for holding essentials while you’re out on your paddle board. 

  4. Choose a style that makes you feel comfortable and confident: You’re going to be spending some active time in your swimwear, so it must feel comfortable, and you need to feel confident that you look good wearing it, so whenever you can, it’s best to try the suit on and move around in it to find a good fit and make sure it doesn't ride up.