Whether you’re looking for something simple to wear to your local beach, or you’re trying to impress someone at a rooftop pool, now would be a good time to upgrade your swim trunks. “Gone are the days of over-the-top, crazy vacation print board shorts,” says stylist Piper Gore, who suggests trying something a bit shorter and more fitted. We spoke with ten people who would know — influencers, stylists, athletes, hotel-pool loungers, beach fanatics, and a surfer — and asked them to recommend the best swim trunks for men.
Best overall swim trunks for men
Three of our experts said this was their favorite swimming suit (and it was the only pair mentioned by more than one person). Famously worn by Daniel Craig in Skyfall, Orlebar Brown’s trunks were called out by Gore for the “flat-front trouser design detail, and the sidepulls to adjust for the perfect fit.” Olie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter, is a fan, too: “Orlebar Brown is known for creating swim trunks based on the traditional 17-piece pattern used to tailor a pair of trousers. They’re made so you can look sharply dressed while at the pool or at the beach bar.” At this price, we know this won’t be for everyone, but it is widely considered the best around.
Best mid-thigh swim trunks for men
The vintage-inspired “mid-thigh” fit is definitely the look of the moment. “Men are for sure going shorter,” says stylist Warren Alfie Baker. Image consultant Patrick Kenger likes these trunks from Club Monaco. “They already have that worn-in look, so they keep things casual,” he says. “The wider leg and seersucker fabric give off some old-school vibes that I dig.”
Along with all things gorpcore, Patagonia swim trunks are still trending, according to our experts. (These are technically sold as “shorts,” but they’re made from quick-drying nylon, have a mesh liner, and Patagonia says they’re “designed for use in and out of the water,” so the experts still refer to them as “swim trunks”). With a five-inch inseam, Baggies give you the same mid-thigh fit offered by higher-end brands, but they’re more affordable and multipurpose. And they actually have more fashion cred than you might expect (former Strategist contributor Chris Black is a fan). “[Baggies] have become something of a summer staple,” says Kenger. “They’re the perfect length, come in multiple color options, and it’s an attractive price point.” (Kenger likes the five-inch version, but they come in a longer seven-inch if you want something a little longer).
According to former Strategist writer David Notis, these trunks from Solid & Striped are a dressier alternative to Baggies. In addition to being a bit shorter, they’re more formfitting, and the seersucker pocket lining makes a statement. Notis picked them because they are flattering and classic with stylish details. “In terms of mid-thigh trunks, these land somewhere between tailored and casual,” he says.
Best above-knee swim trunks for men
The mid-thigh look isn’t for everyone. If you’d rather be less “on trend,” or simply prefer not to show so much skin, the more standard “above knee” fit is still a classic. Kenger calls these an essential. “There’s nothing special about this pair, which is what makes it so special.” Between the choice of classic solid colors (green, gray, yellow, and turquoise) and the fit, these trunks are for guys who want something foolproof.
There’s a lot of talk about swim trunks you can wear from the beach to the bar, but what about a pair you can wear from the pool to the gym? Kevin Ng, a former collegiate swimmer at the University of Rhode Island, says these shorts allow athletes to quickly transition their workouts in and out of the water. They’re made with quick-drying fabric that is comfortable and nice-looking, and Ng says “the streamline fit and minimal waistband ensure the best hydrodynamic swim without feeling too restrictive or limiting your range of motion during both water and land workouts.”
Peter Sheehan, a lifestyle director at Related Companies, likes that these trunks from Canadian brand Bather are breathable, quick-drying, and have pockets (not all swim trunks have them). Plus they’re created using polyester made from recycled plastic bottles, something that helped him feel good about his purchase. As for the fit, he says, “I don’t go for anything uncomfortable or with a harsh mesh liner. It has to be simple and stylish, with a flattering fit above the knee.”
Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw gives this pair a “heavy endorsement,” although he does find them to be a little pricey. “They’re sustainably made and comfortable because of the stretch. Plus they dry so quickly and flatter my waistline,” he says.
Lots of board shorts fall way below the knee, but our experts say the style is best if you can find something on the shorter side with a slightly fitted look. San Diego–based personal stylist Vannesa Valiente calls these Hurley board shorts “hands down my favorite,” and they’re a big hit with her clients because they’re comfortable — they don’t have a liner, which some might prefer — flattering, and easily transition from the pool or beach to around town.
Best pattern-print swim trunks for men
George Brescia, an image consultant and the author of Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life, loves Bonobos trunks. “People always stop me on the beach and ask where I got them,” he says. The pair he originally recommended is sold out, but these swordfish-adorned trunks are just as bold and summery. Brescia says this model, with its elastic waist, is very comfortable. “They’re fairly fitted but not too tight around the thigh. They still leave room for your legs,” he says.
Brescia is also big on these more fitted trunks with a pineapple pattern. In his opinion, a nice pair of swim trunks with an all-over print is a summer essential.
And if you want to make even more of a statement, large-scale prints such as this one will definitely get people’s attention. Although the pair of leopard-print Stüssy trunks Arnold originally recommended has since sold out, his styling advice still applies to this pair of peach-patterned shorts: “You can wear them to the beach or throw on a long-sleeved tee and a pair of Vans.”
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