8 Major Rules in Choosing the Right Swim Shorts

ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

Whether you’re a swimming champ like Michael Phelps or a casual wader (who needs more time in the gym), you can benefit from a more tailored take on this season’s most essential piece, the swim shorts.


1| The Cardinal Rule

“Fit should hug the waist but allow you to move,” says Kelly See of men’s lifestyle store Signet, which just started carrying premium and tailored swim shorts brand Orlebar Brown in its Shangri-La at The Fort space. The operative word is hug. Try them on before buying. Anything looser can chafe the skin when wet, and you don’t want that.

2| Avoid elastic waistbands. Drawstrings are negotiable.

They both dig into your belly, especially if you’re a bit soft in the middle or your cuts have yet to emerge. Drawstrings get a free pass for their guarantee of security, which is very useful when you’re participating in beach games. Assuming you’re already athletic, there shouldn’t be much mass for your shorts to squeeze into a muffin top. Otherwise, it definitely will. A wider waistband, however, lessens this probability.

For a sleeker look, go for a snap and zipper style. Adjustable side-fastened styles rank higher in the style department. It can take you from surf to turf. Just throw on a vintage T-shirt, a Hawaiian shirt, or a hoodie with canvas sneakers for cocktail hour or dinner, and you’ll still look great.

3| “The right length should be mid-length or in between your waist and your knees.” According to See, here’s what it looks like:



This is why you should never skip leg days.

4| Shorts should never be baggy and fall below the knees.

Scrawny dudes will look emaciated. Everybody else will just look sloppy. There should only be room for your phone. Plus, the more fabric there is, the more your shorts will be pulled down by the weight of water as you walk back out on the shore from the ocean. The risk of involuntary mooning when sitting or even while paddle boarding? Very high. Don’t be that guy.

5| The same rules for length also applies for taller dudes.


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6| Material should be fast-drying and lightweight.

Check the label. It should say something like polyamide (more tear-resistant than polyester but dries just as fast) and nylon. Why? Going back to rule number one, wet fabric can chafe your skin. You’ll also smell funky and musty like forgotten laundry. Besides, in between swimming to hitting up sunset drinks, who has time to change?

7| On color

“At the start of your vacation, when you don’t have a tan, it’s good to wear darker colored swim shorts. Then as you progress with your tan, you can opt to wear lighter shades. A good tan always goes well with a nice pair of swim shorts,” See says. It would also be best to leave the neons to the lifeguard on duty. You can play with color. Red is not off-limits, but go for muted tones.

8| On prints and patterns

By all means. Horizontal stripes have the added benefit of creating an optical illusion of more toned thighs (read up, skinny guys). And while you’re at it, loosen up. Here’s how to pull it off:




Athletic builds can experiment with more vibrant colors and prints, but those with a bit of a belly should stay away from loud designs as they will draw the eyes to the undesirables. But you can have fun, too. Smaller prints should do the trick in distracting away from your spare tire. See advises, “Choose one that’s colorful and playful.” It is summer, after all. The quirkier the print, the better. Wear something that says “F you” to sitting all day at the office and a big “Hell yeah” to being on vacation. You earned it.


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Marbbie Tagabucba
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