Best swim trunks for men 2018: swim in style

Whether you're putting in serious laps or just chilling at the poolside bar, these are the best swimming shorts

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Deciding on the right pair of swimming trunks is not as easy as you’d think. While it might seem simple at first, you’re essentially deciding how you want to look in one item of clothing while bathing at the pool or beach. 

So it’s important to feel comfortable with how they look and how you feel wearing them.

Get ready for your summer holidays:

How to choose the best swim trunks

Wearing swimming trunks, just like leaping from a diving board, is a balancing act. Are baggy boardshorts actually cool, or should you wrap yourself in a tiny pair of budgie smugglers the way James Bond did for decades? 

It’s safe to say that neither is a good idea. More specifically, the only time it’s cool to wear budgie smugglers is when you’re trying to prove a point. So back to shorts then.

Swimming trunks straddle a sweet spot between boardies and speedos – they’re practical, comfortable and won’t turn heads for the wrong reasons. 

They just look good for a wide variety of body types. They also double as normal shorts, so you can throw on sneakers and a shirt and – presto – you can wear them all day. 

If you’re buying from a store, try them on to see what the comfort levels are like. Most swim trunks come with a mesh lining inside to replace your water-soaking underwear, so make sure they don’t chafe. 

And while you can expect the vast majority to be made of water-repelling nylon, avoid shorts that have tacky plastic details.

1. Orlebar Brown Bulldog Swim Shorts

For the beach, pool, and bar

Reasons to buy
+Stylish cut+Side adjusters for comfort+The ultimate all rounder+Worn by Bond

Orlebar Brown has cut a very fine pair of swim shorts with the 'Bulldog'. The product description for these mentions a tailored fit, and it’s not hard to see why. They light-blue shell is fixed with side adjusters that allow you to get the fit just so. Whether this is better than good old drawstrings and elastic is up to you, but it does look smarter. 

While these are shorts “you can swim in”, you’ll most likely end up wearing them with a polo shirt and loafers. This is, of course, a very good idea if you like to spend your summers flexing without breaking a sweat.

2. Patagonia Baggies Short

Your everyday swimming short

Reasons to buy
+Versatile and durable+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Not that smart

These shorts from Patagonia certainly aren’t classic beach wear, but they’re a good starting point if you want to keep things simple. While not so flashy in design or materials, it’s one of the more affordable of the bunch if that’s what you’re after. 

A versatile outdoor-wear option that’s not limited to only outings to the beach, these shorts are constructed of nylon just like the rest, but with the addition of a water-repellent finish and self-draining front pockets. So you can take these practically anywhere and, with the intensely hot and dry weather we’re experiencing at the moment, that’s definitely a good thing. 

3. Moncler Red Dolmias Beach Swim Shorts

A bright blend of quality design with flair

Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous colour+Quality construction
Reasons to avoid
-On the expensive side

You could quite easily fly under the radar while wearing this pair of beach swim shorts from Moncler. But on closer inspection you’ll see that these are designer shorts made for discerning sartorial tastes. Cut from nylon and finished in a powerful shade of red, their quality construction justifies the relatively high price tag. 

Featuring a mesh lining along with three pockets and tonal stitching, the details are what you’ll love most about these shorts as you’re basking in the sun. There’s a Moncler logo patch up front as well to round out the feature list. 

4. Acne Studios Perry D Printed Shell Swim Shorts

For staying cool this summer

Reasons to buy
+Quality design from Acne+Easily styled with sneakers or flip-flops
Reasons to avoid
-Pattern not for everyone

Acne Studios’ Perry D swim shorts have the benefit of being practical enough for a day out at the beach or pool while also stylish enough to wear about town. Coloured in tonal blue, white and mint, these shorts look good and offer cooler tones to match with. 

While there are cheaper options out there, buy these if you want to prioritise style this summer. It’s only hot for one season a year, after all. Detailing includes an appliquéd designer emblem, while there’s also the zip pocket on the back for storing small items whether you’re traipsing the beach or boulevarde.

5. Hugo Boss Short-Length Swim Shorts

Affordable trunks form the Boss

Reasons to buy
+Classic cut+Great for being active+Affordable

Looking for a classic pair of swim shorts to actually swim in? Hugo Boss' navy swim shorts are the perfect option. Cut in a short length from quick-drying shell, they offer plenty of room to move, so you can be active on the beach and feel comfortable.

6. Thom Browne Slim-Fit Striped Herringbone Shell Swim Shorts

We love this woven harringbone pattern

Reasons to buy
+Woven pattern+Thick material+Smart look+Great colours
Reasons to avoid
-Rather pricey

We love these tailor swim trunks from Mr Thom Browne. They're made from thick shell that's woven with a herringbone pattern in red, white, and blue – perfect for a 4th of July party, if you happen to be an American reading this. They are finished with the designer's signature emblem, and metal eyelets in the back pocket to stop them filling with water.

7. Paul Smith Dinosaur Print Shell Swim Shorts

Make watches with thes roarsome trunks

Reasons to buy
+Bold print+Quick drying+Slim-fit
Reasons to avoid
-Print won't fit in everywhere

Add a pop of playfulness to your holiday wardrobe with these dinosaur print shorts from Paul Smith. They're made from quick-drying shell material, and are cut in a slim mid-length shape. The flexible drawstring waistband and mesh lining ensure comfort while the back zipped pocket offers a secure place to store a hotel room key.

8. Gucci Jacquard-Shell Swim Shorts

Perfect for pool or yacht parties (or both)

Reasons to buy
+Quality construction+Makes a statement
Reasons to avoid
-Not for every occasion

There's no need to save dressing flashy for formal events when you can flex poolside. These swimming shorts from Gucci feature a navy jacquard-shell, grey piping around the hem and a comfortable mesh lining. And in true fashion, you’ll find them covered in Gucci's ‘GG’ motif.

One of the shorter pairs of this selection, the brand’s now-classic gold bee is embroidered at the hem so there's no mistaking who you're wearing. Not your everyday swimming shorts - but that's the point after all. 

9. FRESCOBOL CARIOCA Copacabana Short-Length Printed Swim Shorts

Inspired by the hottest spot north of Havana

Reasons to buy
+Tailored+Nice pattern+Adjustable waist

Inspired by the mosaic on the promenade at Copacabana Beach, these printed Frescobol Carioca swim shorts have a tailored straight-leg cut and adjustable waist tabs for an exact fit.

While you can certainly go swimming in these, they also lend themselves well to casual summer days out in sneakers and a polo shirt. Details include with an elastic waistband and adjustable drawstring to get the fit just right. 

10. Noah NYC Yellow Swim Shorts

A solid all-rounder, without any frills

Reasons to buy
+Quality design+Textured fabric
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks standout features

Noah NYC delivers a great all-rounder with this set of yellow swim shorts for style and play. Constructed of textured nylon, which creates a fuzzy effect under light, they also feature three pockets and a concealed drawstring for an understated look. 

While these Italian-made swimmers probably aren’t going to turn a lot of heads as you stroll along the promenade, they tick more boxes than most in this list. While there aren’t any features that will linger long afterwards in the mind, the quality design, bright shade of yellow and middle-of-the-pack price point make this hard to pass up.