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Types of Swimwear for Men

Look, guys:

There is no shortage of men’s swimsuits available on the market these days. You can find just about anything you need to get into the water and enjoy your time.

But here’s the deal:

It’s not as simple as just grabbing the first thing you see. With all of the different choices, it can be tough to decide which type of swimsuit is right for you.

This article will go over the different types of swimwear for men. This includes the ideal body type and activities for each type. This way, you can wear them with glowing confidence, whether you’re at the local pool or hitting the beaches of Maui.

Summary

types of swimwear for men

Want a quick overview of the types of swimwear for men? Here’s a table summarizing the different types, along with the notable features, activities, and body types they’re best suited for:

Swimwear TypeWhen to WearNotable FeaturesBody Type
Board ShortsSurfing, Wakeboarding, Beach, Pool PartiesTypically extends to the knee or just below. Mesh lining. Pockets and perhaps cargo pockets.Tall or larger physiques
JammersCompetition, WorkoutsSkin-tight fit for competition. Typically made from Polyester or Lycra blend. No pockets.All
Square-Cut Swim TrunksCasual Pool Parties, Beach, TrainingThe short inseam accentuates the physique. Particularly the quads, glutes, and abs. May or may not contain pockets. Fit
Swim BriefsCasual Beach, Tanning, Workouts, CompetitionAllows full range of motion. No mesh lining. No pockets. The elastic waistband provides a secure fit.Fit to semi-fit physiques
Swim TrunksCasual to Semi-Formal Pool Parties, BeachStandard summer swimwear. Available in several colors, patterns, and inseam lengths. Drawstring or elastic waistband.All

Swim Trunks

types of swim trunks

These are the most popular type of men’s swimwear in the United States. Swim trunks, also sometimes referred to as volley shorts, are characterized by their shorter length – typically falling somewhere between the knee and mid-thigh.

They will also have an elastic waistband with a drawstring closure and typically feature a mesh lining. Swim trunks are available in several different prints and patterns and solid colors, making them appropriate for just about any occasion.

Style

Swim trunks are versatile and can be worn in various situations – from the beach to the pool to a semi-formal barbecue with some co-workers or acquaintances.

For top recommendations, you have a lot to choose from. You can wear a t-shirt (sleeved or sleeveless), tank top, button-down, polo, or rash guard.

Body Type

Swim trunks are a good choice for all body types. Available in several different inseam lengths, you can find a pair of trunks that will fit your frame just right while still giving you options to show off your legs.

If you are carrying a bit of extra weight, opt for a drawstring closure instead of an elastic waistband, which can pinch in on the hip and be unforgiving.

Brands to Consider

Here are some brands that make great swim trunks:

Square-Cut Swim Trunks

types of square cut swim trunks

The men’s fashion world went wild when Daniel Craig wore square-cut swim trunks in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. If you were curious, he was wearing the La Perla “Grigioperla” swim trunks (source).

But the square-cut swim trunks aren’t new. In fact, this style of swimwear was quite popular with men in the 1950s (source).

As the name suggests, square-cut swim trunks have a boxier shape than other types of swimwear. With an inseam of only a few inches, square-cut trunks are shorter than swim trunks but still provide more coverage than briefs.

Style

Given the aggressive cut and shorter inseam, square-cut swim trunks are best worn casually or for training purposes.

If you want to rock the square-cut look, we recommend pairing these with a slim-fitting t-shirt or tank top. Don’t forget to accessorize them with aviators, boat shoes, and a Panama hat for a James Bond-inspired look.

Body Type

If you’ve been putting effort into the gym, you’ll want to show off your results – and perhaps have others take notice. Then there is perhaps no better swimwear than square-cut trunks.

The aggressive cut and shorter inseam will accentuate your muscles, especially your quads, glutes, and abs.

Brands to Consider

Here are some brands that make great square-cut trunks:

Swim Briefs

types of swim briefs

These are the tight-fitting, form-hugging swimsuits that leave little to the imagination. They typically have a V-shaped front, covered back, and an elastic waistband. Some swim briefs will also have a drawstring closure.

It’s interesting. Some men may classify swim briefs as only worn by homosexual men. However, this is quite an ignorant mindset. Outside the United States, swim briefs are one of the most popular types of men’s swimwear. In Europe, South America, and Australia, it’s not uncommon to see guys wearing briefs to the beach, pool, or even just casually around town.

Style

Most men in the United States will wear these when at the gym, diving, or doing other physical activity in the water. However, we think that swim briefs can be confidently worn in any situation – whether you’re at the beach or by the pool.

When wearing swim briefs, we recommend pairing them with a button-down (un-buttoned) or form-fitting t-shirt.

Body Type

Like square trunks, swim briefs showcase your body – making them an ideal swimwear option for men with a toned physique.

Brands to Consider

Thinking about buying a pair of swim briefs? Here are some brands to consider:

Board Shorts

types of board shorts

The board short is a slight modification of the traditional swim trunk. Some companies may refer to swim trunks and board shorts as “trunks.” The main differentiator of board shorts is that they are usually a little longer than swim trunks, falling from just above the knee to even slightly below.

Their length was intended initially for watersports such as surfing, wakeboarding, bodyboarding, or paddleboarding – as they prevent chafing from the wax on the board. They usually have a velcro or drawstring waist closure and may have cargo pockets.

Style

Board shorts are best suited for more casual settings, given the length. You can pair this with a t-shirt, tank top, or rash guard. Don’t forget to accessorize with sunglasses, a hat, and sandals or flip-flops to complete the look.

Body Type

Board shorts are great for taller guys or guys with muscular thighs, as they provide more coverage. Also, if you’re a bit heavier set, board shorts can help balance out your proportions. They also often have a non-elastic and wider waistband, which should be more pleasing to the eye for guys with larger waistlines.

Brands to Consider

Looking to buy a pair of board shorts? Check out these companies:

Jammers

types of jammers

Remember when Michael Phelps was winning all those gold medals in the Olympics? His swimwear of choice is jammers.

Jammers are a type of swimsuit that covers from waist to knee. They are often made with a Lycra or polyester blend material, making them stretchy and comfortable. Jammers are great for swimming laps as they provide more coverage than briefs while reducing drag.

However, these are strictly for serious swimming, whether competitive or as part of a workout routine.

Style

Jammers should only be worn to the gym or swim meets. These aren’t anything you’ll want to wear casually or to the beach – unless you plan on doing some laps or having a friendly backyard competition.

Pair these with a hoodie or t-shirt before getting on the starting block.

Body Type

These are made for all body types and sizes, as they are designed to be tight-fitting and provide support.

Brands to Consider

Check out these brands if you’re interested in jammers:

Novelty

Outside the primary swimwear categories, there are also a few other types of swimsuits that you might encounter. These include:

  • Mankini: Made famous by Borat, the mankini is a one-piece swimsuit that leaves little to the imagination. You’ll find thin straps for the shoulders and waist and a small strip of fabric for the groin area.
  • Thong: The thong is similar to the mankini. However, it is just a tiny piece of fabric covering the bottom portion consisting of a small triangle of fabric for the groin and a thin strip of fabric that goes between the buttocks. Men may wear these while tanning on the beach or by the pool.
  • One-Piece Swimsuits: Popular in the 1920s and 1930s, one-piece swimsuits cover the torso while extending just above the knee. These can be great to wear for some summer-themed Great Gatsby parties.

Other Swimwear Options

There are a few other swimwear options and accessories that we wanted to touch on quickly. However, admittedly most of these are for particular circumstances or activities.

  • Wetsuits: Worn by surfers, divers, and other ocean-goers, wetsuits are designed to keep your body temperature stable in colder water conditions. Wetsuits are usually made from neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber. 
  • Rash Guards: These are a summertime wardrobe staple for many men. Rash guards feature UV protection and can help prevent chafing when spending long days in the sun and saltwater. Many men may wear a rash guard instead of sunscreen for some extra protection.
  • Racing Suits: Like jammers, racing suits are designed for competitive swimmers. They provide a snug fit and help reduce drag in the water – giving you an edge over your competition.

Brands

We put together a list of some notable brands in the swimwear industry for men along with where their headquarters are located and the year they were founded:

BrandHeadquartersYear Founded
2(X)ISTNew York City, NY, United States1991
ArenaTolentino, Italy1973
Bermies SwimwearMiami, FL, United States2016
BillabongHuntington Beach, CA, United States1973
BirddogsNew York City, NY, United States2015
Budgy SmugglerSydney, Australia2008
BurberryLondon, England1856
Calvin KleinNew York City, NY, United States1968
ChubbiesAustin, TX, United States2011
Fair HarborNew York City, NY, United States2014
Hugo BossMetzingen, Germany1924
HukCharleston, SC, United States2014
HurleyCosta Mesa, CA, United States1979
IntimissimiDossobuono di Villafranca di Verona, Veneto, Italy1966
LacosteTroyes, France1933
Lands’ EndDodgeville, WI, United States1963
NikeBeaverton, OR, United States1964
O’NeillSanta Cruz, CA, United States1952
Orlebar BrownLondon, England2007
PatagoniaVentura, CA, United States1973
Psycho BunnyNew York City, NY, United States2005
QuiksilverHuntington Beach, CA, United States1969
Rip CurlTorquay, Australia1969
RufskinSan Diego, CA, United States2000
Salt LifeColumbus, GA, United States2003
SAXX UnderwearVancouver, Canada2006
SpeedoNottingham, England1914
Tommy HilfigerAmsterdam, Netherlands1985
TYRHuntington Beach, CA, United States1985
VersaceMilan, Italy1978
Vineyard VinesStamford, CT, United States1998
VisslaAliso Viejo, CA, United States2013
VolcomCosta Mesa, CA, United States1991
VuoriCarlsbad, CA, United States2015

Conclusion

Whether you’re hitting the beach or the pool this summer, there’s a swimsuit out there that’s perfect for you. With so many different styles, cuts, and brands to choose from – you’re sure to find something that fits your needs. So, what are you waiting for?

Get out there and enjoy the sun!

About Adam

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam is an expert in all things men's grooming and style. When you don't find him reading up on the latest style trends, he likes to go jogging, attempt to distinguish the differences between IPAs, and play sports with his kids.

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