While women’s bathing suits seem to work on the principle of the mood ring—changing every season at the whim of some designer who never has to wear them—men’s swimwear hasn’t had a sea change since full-bodied tank suits that covered the elbows and knees went out of style. Sure, there have been minor fashion breakouts along the way: the misguided banana hammock vogue was something to be avoided unless you were Michael Phelps; below-the-knee board shorts, or jams, which made sense if you were a surfer, but looked silly on grownups. But for the most part men didn’t so much follow swimsuit fashion as buy new ones only because the waist band gave out and the suit came off while doing a jackknife off the high board.
If it’s replacement time for your trunks, here’s a trend that’s worth following. Swim shorts, or hybrids, are meant to double as street wear until you decide to take a plunge. Other than being made from performance cloth that stretches and dries quickly, they pass as short pants when you need to duck into a shop or a bistro—which is something you can’t say for women’s suits no matter how modest the cut. Tommy Bahama’s Cayman Sardinia Seas Hybrid Cargo Shorts, top, and Cayman Piña Block Party Hybrid Shorts, third from top, (both $110, with 10" inseam and moisture-wicking IslandZone fabric) complete the effect with belt loops and ample pockets.
Another practical development to pursue is the long-length liner. The trend, which adds a thigh-hugging inner suit to within an inch or two of the hem of the outer suit, is not just a modesty measure. While they do go a long way to junk management, having liners in modern stretchable fabric like BreezeKnit is a major comfort consideration. Suits like Fair Harbor’s The Sextant Trunk, with zippered fly front, bottom, ($88, 6" inseam) and The Anchor, with water-draining pockets, second from top, ($68, 8" inseam), avoid the chaffing that comes with mesh liners. And that’s a fashion worth following.