I’m not going to bore you with how influential David Beckham is – you already know – and the thing is, he never really gets boring because you’re never sure what’s coming next. Us fashion folk like to view him as one of those strange creatures that appeals to all demographics. He has the wardrobe, influence and sophistication to warrant the fashion press taking an interest and then the classical good looks, on a more superficial level, to appeal to the masses.
Anyway, his widely acclaimed H&M Bodywear range has evolved to incorporate swimwear for the first time. Released earlier this year, the accompanying Glen Luchford-shot campaign showcases three styles, all modeled by Golden Balls himself: tailored board shorts, swim shorts and trunks in a variety of colour ways.
Swim shorts have gradually become shorter and shorter, and what seemed really daring just a few summers ago feels safe and wearable now. For me, there are only two styles to consider this season: the cropped nylon short and the tailored swim short. Other longer length styles, such as board shorts – those that finish on the knee or over – can make you look short and stumpy. They instantly cut off your legs by not showing the knee and there’s also something a little dated about them (and not in a cool, retro way).
It’s probably something to do with the shapeless straight cuts, garish designs and over-branding. Surfer-inspired styles are being pushed hard by the industry for SS14, but the best versions come in shorter shapes that are reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s, similar to Beckham’s range.
If you are looking for a swim short that is versatile and can adapt to multiple occasions and locations, stick to solid versions in timeless hues like navy, charcoal, khaki or black, or consider a summer-appropriate pastel shade such as sky blue. All of these colours will slot seamlessly into your high summer wardrobe and can be mixed and matched with your existing staples to produce looks for a variety of warm-weather scenarios, on or off the beach.
Most likely a by-product of menswear’s current obsession with sports luxe, cropped nylon (or polyester) swim shorts are highly reminiscent of old-school running shorts – complete with curved hems and a cut that finishes no lower than mid-thigh. One word of note: this style of short suits slightly younger men – making the retro/vintage aesthetic ironic – so if you’re in doubt opt for a mid-length tailored pair instead.
The go-to silhouette for a couple of years now, tailored swim shorts are suitable for every type of dresser, old and young. As previously mentioned, cuts have gradually gotten shorter, so whereas before tailored versions finished a couple of inches above the knee, now they are hitting closer to mid-thigh. That said, the length you opt for should be determined by your specific body type.
With tailored styles, traditional elasticated/drawstring waistbands often leave far too much fabric around the legs and can quickly swallow you. They are the swimwear equivalent of wearing an ill-fitting shirt – you don’t really know what all the extra material is for. Unless you want to look like Macaulay Culkin pool-bombing in Home Alone 2 in your dad’s trunks, avoid.
Instead, keep your eye out for styles that feature side adjusters, similar to what you would find on tailored trousers, or button/popper fastenings. It used to be that only premium brands offered these, but now they are available at every price point, from high street to designer. Not only does the fabric drape and fit much better through the thigh, producing the clean lines you should be looking to create throughout your entire wardrobe, they are also still quite rare on the current market, which will help separate your swim shorts from the masses.
So there you have it, my swimwear recommendations. Personally, the cropped nylon swim shorts are the way to go. As long as you don't go sporting a Borat-esque type of swimwear then you should be just fine. If you buy well, you’ll get more than one summer’s wear out of them. Just remember: simple, fitted and stylish.