How to Choose the Right Swimwear for Your Body Type

mens orlebar brown swimwear

Not sure what swimwear is the best for your body type? With the months of high summer on the horizon, the time for picking up your swimwear is now. Check out our complete guide of the best types of swimwear for skinny, big, tall and small guys.

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You wouldn’t turn up to work in an ill-fitting suit or wear shoes two sizes too big, so why do so many guys choose swimwear that doesn’t fit or flatter? From gaudy prints to dodgy waistlines, there are 101 potholes to fall down when trying to select the best swimwear for your body type. To help you look good this summer, we’ve spoken to men’s swimwear experts and found these top tips to follow when choosing the best men’s swimsuit for your body type.

Swimwear for Your Height

The Best Swimsuits for Short Guys

Despite what Tinder may have us believe, there is nothing wrong with being less than 6 foot tall, it just means that you have a few extra considerations when choosing trunks. The main problem shorter guys face with trunks is looking swamped in too much material; you’ve only got little legs, don’t lose half of them to your swimwear!

Plus you’re at risk of looking like you’re wearing your dad’s trunks, which is never a good look. The solution to this is really simple; short legs, short shorts. Don’t worry we don’t mean speedos, unless that’s your style; the best trunks for short guys are ones that hit around the mid-thigh area. This not only gives the illusion of longer legs, but it lets you show off those leg muscles gained from hitting the gym.

Don’t be afraid of short shorts, as we all know Orlebar’s Setter trunks (shorter-than-short) were featured in the James Bond film Skyfall, and if they’re good enough for 007 they’re definitely good enough for the rest of us.

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A man relaxing by a swimming pool
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Choose your colour according to your skin tone; the darker your skin the more colours you can choose from; paler guys should avoid light colours, you don’t want to blend into your trunks. Short guys should also avoid large prints. An eye-grabbing statement print can be overwhelming on a small amount of material, and you’ll be running the risk of looking like you’re over-compensating and trying to draw attention to something else…

However, there’s no harm in a subtle print, in fact they often make swimwear look more stylish. Designer swimwear brand, Boardies have a great short, subtly printed selection of shorts that’s ideal for a man of shorter stature.

The Best Swimsuits for Tall Guys

Luckily for you, tall guys have the most freedom when it comes to choosing swimwear. However, there are still some rules you should follow to avoid any swimwear slip-ups. One mistake tall guys often make is thinking they can still wear long, baggy skater-shorts. No. It’s no longer the ‘90s and you’re not 16 anymore.

While longer shorts suit tall guys best, as they help balance the ratio between leg and swimsuit, you shouldn’t go any lower than the knee. For those in touch with their inner surfer, Billabong creates really laid-back easy-to-wear designs, plus, as one of the original and best men’s swimwear brands, they have loads of patterns to choose from.

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A man in patterned swim shorts
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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The darker colours will suit any skin tone and the print has a summer-vibe without being too over the top. Print breaks up the long stretch of fabric without reducing the length, and the waistband helps further differentiate between your long legs and lean body. Plus it draws attention to your abs, a massive bonus for anyone who’s been toning up for summer.

Another perk of being tall is that, depending on the strength of your tan, you can choose any colour or pattern you like; and why not, swimwear is one of the few occasions you’ll get to wear floral prints without looking like you’re going to a Magnum P.I. costume party.

Swimwear for Your Weight

The Best Swimsuits for Skinny Guys

Are you less muscleman, more skinny legs man? Being skinny is not necessarily a bad thing; yes it takes a bit of work, but remember it’s a lot easier to fake the illusion of added muscle than it is to hide fat.

Skinny guys face similar problems to short men when choosing swimwear in that too much material can drown you and make it look like you bought the entirely wrong size trunk. Instead of the length being the problem, for skinny guys, it’s the width. There are really simple solutions to this problem.

For the best swim shorts for skinny legs, go for fitted trunks. The reason for this is pretty obvious; it reduces the amount of material that would otherwise just hang loosely or worse, cling to your legs when wet. Another bonus is that tailored shorts are often made from thicker materials that will help add girth.

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You don’t have to be topless on the beach
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One of the major bonuses of tailored trunks is that they use button side fasteners instead of a basic string and elastic waistband. On a slim guy, a string tie can make the excess material gather which not only makes the shorts look ill fitting but highlights your slender physique.

Not only do elastic bands encourage the leg material to gather, if the elastic is not kept taut your trunks will just ride up, leaving you with your shorts constantly around your neck and your hands repeatedly down your shorts as you try to rearrange them; a very bad look.

In contrast, button side fasteners gather the material on both sides, distributing the excess material so you don’t have folds and folds of hanging fabric. Orlebar Brown has tackled this problem with slide fasteners that can be adjusted to suit your waist-line.

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Mix up your beach looks with a pair of patterned swim shorts
PHOTO CREDIT: H&M

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Prints work really well on slim men as they help to add the illusion of weight to your body. Try to avoid light coloured prints as they accentuate the fact that you’re skinny, particularly when wet and stuck to your legs. Instead go for dark or bold colours that help boost the illusion of muscle.

Tropical swim shorts are a great example of a stylish print that will compliment your body type. Contrast waistbands are a really good idea for slim guys, as the horizontal stripe gives the illusion that your hips are wider.

The Best Swimsuits for Big Guys

Bigger guys have the hardest time looking good on the beach, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a hard time trying to find trunks that suit your body type. More and more brands are bringing in plus size designs to compliment larger bodies, and with our guidance you should have no problem looking stylish in the sun.

To help create a visual balance between your legs and stomach, go for shorts that are cut above the knee. Its really important for bigger guys to match the length of their shorts to their height so make sure you’ve read the sections above. If you’re short, you don’t want to wear overly long shorts that make it look like you have a lot of stomach, but no legs.

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A man in swim shorts
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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If you’re tall, avoid short trunks, as a hanging stomach and long legs will only reduce the apparent size of the shorts, which results in you looking creepy or like you haven’t updated your swimwear since the 1970s: either way the result is bad. You should also avoid tightly cut shorts. Frescobol Carioca’s Sports cut is ideal for larger guys as they come with loose cut legs and extra wide waistbands.

For the best looking swim trunks, choose dark colours as they are an easy way to streamline your silhouette. Simple colour blocking or stripes is a good way of bringing in multiple colours without having an overbearing pattern; always go for vertical stripes, as they will make you look taller and thinner. That’s not to say larger guys can’t wear prints but stick to darker ones, as they are more subtle and sophisticated.

Flat-front shorts with ties are a really good idea for guys with a bit of extra weight. You don’t want to go down a slide or sit up on a beach and have your buttons unexpectedly pop open, and there’s nothing worse than the sound of ripping Velcro when you breathe out.

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Swim shorts come in different lengths
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Elasticated waistbands are the most comfortable option for larger guys as they have the most flexibility and are easy to move in, making them perfect for a game of Frisbee or football on the beach. Faherty’s Red Riptide or Indigo Starfruit trunks are great options for larger guys. They come with either flat fronted or elastic waists, and incorporate a pattern without being too over the top.

Swimwear for Your Body Type

  • Trunks with flies, even fake ones, are a really good idea as they add an extra layer. We have all seen, and grimaced at, the guy who gets out the ocean with his shorts wrapped around him; the water was probably cold, right?
  • Change your trunks every couple of years. This isn’t just a style thing, the salt in the ocean and chlorine in pools dilutes the colour and material which can make swimwear look dirty, cheap and sometimes transparent.
  • Wear your trunks on your hips. Swimwear is not the time for a Simon Cowell impression.
  • Quick dry shorts are the future. They solve so many problems, from clinging fabric to getting cold coming out of the pool. Plus, they are perfect for guys who like to pack light, as you can just throw on a shirt and walk straight to dinner.
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Wearing a vest on the beach is a sensible idea
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

On That Note

So now you have all the do’s and don’ts on choosing the best swimsuit for any man’s body type. The most important thing when choosing the best men’s swim trunks is that you feel comfortable in them; you’re the one that has to wear them after all. But at least now you have some guidance on how best to show off your summer bod this year.

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