Best mens swim shorts

Why The Right Men’s Swim Shorts Matter

Whether gracing the sand of Anse Source d’Argent beach in the Seychelles, playing it cool in a private Las Vegas cabana or sunbathing at your local lido – the right swim shorts matter. So, it’s out with the budgie smugglers and baggy board-shorts, and in with trim, tailored swim shorts that fit to the mid-thigh. The reason for this is dual-purpose: you’ll look just as stylish on dry land as you will in the water.

Orlebar Brown men's swim shorts

Orlebar Brown men’s swim shorts featuring photographic prints – Slim Aarons inspired

There are a plethora of men’s swim shorts available today, with most menswear brands offer something in the swimwear category. But while some get it right, many don’t. Your best option here is to choose a brand which is dedicated to the swimwear niche. Their offering is likely to be better thought out, more considered and ground-breaking in terms of material, style and design. Furthermore, with their focus purely on swimwear and producing the best men’s swim shorts possible, it makes sense that they’ll produce superior products.

Included within this niche are only three brands worth paying attention to: Frescobol Carioca, Orlebar Brown and Vilebrequin. Read on to find out more about each of these specialist labels, but first, here’s some generic information to ensure you choose your next pair of swim shorts appropriately.

Fit

Look no further than the tailored short. Slim fitting and finishing a few inches above the knee, known as ‘mid-length’, they give off a vintage swim short aesthetic that looks more South of France than baggy surfer dude. As with jeans, however, your swim shorts need to fit just right; not too loose, not too tight – we call this a comfortable, tailored fit. Avoid ‘skinny fit’ at all costs – you maybe in your swim shorts all day, in 30°C+ heat so comfort is essential.

Look for swim shorts manufactured with high-quality metal hardware over plastic detailing and proper chrome eyelets for tie-cord exits. A concealed zip and button closure can be sought out for smarter-looking swim shorts, with most also featuring adjustable side straps for a perfect fit around the waist.

The best men's swim shorts for summer

Copacabana life with Frescobol Carioca

Naturally, your height and weight play a part in terms of fit. If you’re taller, opt for a slightly longer length. If you’re shorter, a shorter short will look better and give the illusion of longer legs. If you’re slender you should opt for something streamlined and conversely, if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, opt for a short in a classic fit versus a slimmer fit.

Colour, Pattern Or Plain

Block colours and earthy neutral tones are solid, safe choices. It’s important to remember that you’ll like be wearing your swim shorts as a standalone piece, while swimming or around the pool, but with a shirt or T-shirt at the resort bar afterwards. Therefore, they need to be able to adapt for both situations.

Crucially, take note of your skin tone; darker or well-tanned torsos are better suited to brightly coloured hues (think yellow, light blue, green, red or any pastel offering). On the other hand, if you’re still working on your tan, then opt for richer shades of burgundy and burnt orange, or classic dark neutrals such as black or navy.

Orlebar Brown Dante Klein Faded Palms Mid-Length Swim Shorts for men

Orlebar Brown Bulldog Dante Klein Faded Palms (orange) Mid-Length Swim Shorts, £225 at ORLEBAR BROWN >

Then comes the decision: print or no print? Geometric patterns, big dots, wide stripes, tie-dye and photographic prints are currently huge trends within the sector. Vilebrequin, in particular, excel here, offering a raft of men’s swim shorts featuring novelty fruits and animals of the sea or land. A step too far? We think not. But crucially, make sure a ‘crazy’ print is offset by a plain colour-block T-shirt or shirt; picking out a base colour on your shorts often works well here. For those of you not prepared to risk it all, try a pair of swim shorts with timeless polka dots or Breton stripes.

Fabric

There are two key types of tailored swim short styles: sporty and smart. Sportier shorts are often be constructed in mesh-lined nylon or polyester, whereas beach to bar swim shorts are often crafted in cotton or linen, or a blend of the two. The best option is a hybrid of the two – i.e. A cotton-polyester blend. Your main area of concern here is to ensure they are quick drying.

Vilebrequin men's swim shorts

Colour matching at Vilebrequin (also featured top) with subtle patterns

The Best Men’s Swim Shorts Brands

The brands below are masters in the art of men’s swim shorts, and each have gone on to offer ‘resortwear’ designed to complement your swimwear of choice.

Frescobol Carioca

Frescobol Carioca Noronha Tailored Swim Shorts in Reef Green, £160 at FRESCOBOL CARIOCA >
Frescobol Carioca Short Sleeve T-Shirt in Reef Green, £65 at FRESCOBOL CARIOCA >

Born in 1945 during Brazil’s Golden Age, known as the Tropical Belle Époque, Frescobol (a beach based bat and ball style game) Carioca (a demonym used to refer to anything related to the City of Rio de Janeiro) is the embodiment of Rio-life: cool, active and upbeat in spirit. Attributes which are reflected in the brand’s marketing campaigns and swimwear collections.

A self-proclaimed lifestyle brand, their focus is high-quality, super-stylish swim shorts, but you’ll also find complementary T-shirts, shirting, polos, linen trousers, chinos and comfortable activewear. Everything you need for a stylish day on the Copacabana and the bars and restaurants that serve it.

Orlebar Brown

Orlebar Brown Bulldog Navy Mid-Length Swim Shorts, £145 at MR PORTER >
Orlebar Brown Morton Striped Linen-Cotton Shirt in Navy Stripes, £175 at MATCHES FASHION >

Born and based in London, Orlebar Brown arrived on the scene in March 2007 with, at the time, a more tailored approach to men’s swim shorts. A trendsetter, which many others have tried (and failed) to emulate, Orlebar Brown designs swim shorts you can swim in, wear by the pool or beach, and are smart enough to pair with a polo or shirt for a drink or lunch at a stylish beachside restaurant. 

The range eventually evolved into a full ‘resort collection’ – designed not just for a smarter aesthetic but as a reminder of the sophistication that was once so synonymous with travel and holidays.

Vilebrequin

Vilebrequin Primitive Turtles Superflex Fitted Cut Swim Shorts in Red, Black and White, £200 at VILEBREQUIN >
Vilebrequin Cotton Pique Polo in White, £90 at VILEBREQUIN >

A quintessential French Riviera brand, Vilebrequin was founded in 1971 by Fred Prysquel while sitting at a cafe in the bright and sunny town of Saint Tropez. It’s logo, the instantly recognisable turtle, can be seen adorning the swim shorts of man and boy across the globe. Noted for its use of bright colours and exotic fish, turtle and other marine patterns, look for the time-honoured Moorea swim short, which is a Vilebrequin classic and now-legendary style.

The Moorea leans more towards the sportier fit and style, but there are also fitted options in the Vilebrequin collection.