Summer’s Top Swim Shorts

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Summer’s Top Swim Shorts

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Mr Cedric Bihr | Styling by Mr Scott Stephenson

1 June 2016

You won’t be wearing much else on holiday, so you can’t afford to get this one wrong .

Sun, sea, sand and… what’s the other one? Oh, that’s right. Swim shorts. When planning a summer getaway, swim shorts are the very first thing to book a place in our shiny Rimowa carry-on. In an ideal world, our holiday wardrobe would consist of little else other than a few pairs of print and plain swimmers, a couple of Orlebar Brown linen shirts, a pair of Garrett Leight sunglasses and some Castañer espadrilles. Throw in the new Don deLillo, one of those Frescobol Carioca bat ’n’ balls and… boom. You’re done.

Of course, even when wearing so little, it’s still possible to get it so wrong. Remember the beach scene in The Talented Mr Ripley, where Tom Ripley contrives his first meeting with Dickie Greenleaf? Greenleaf is splayed out on a sun-lounger in a pair of white patterned shorts, looking every bit the errant playboy, while Ripley, in lime-green trunks and a pair of brown leather Derby shoes, is displaying the first signs that he might be a psychopath.  

To help ensure that you’re channelling Dickie rather than Tom when you stride out on to the sand or rock up to the beach club, we’ve compiled an edit of our favourite swim shorts guaranteed to make a splash.


One of the newest additions to MR PORTER’s swimwear offering, Onia was founded in 2009 by Messrs Carl Cunow and Nathan Romano; the brand takes a simple yet uncompromising approach towards fit and fabric. These are swim shorts built to last, in other words, and that goes for whether you’re planning on wearing them while splayed underneath an umbrella, mojito in hand, rolling through the surf on a paddleboard or clambering over craggy rocks, as our model seems to prefer. Cut from light-grey shell fabric, these shorts won’t go see-through when wet, which is always a bonus.


Cut relatively high, these swim shorts from Dolce & Gabbana were designed with the kind of guy who doesn’t skip “leg day” in mind. Featuring a black-and-white vertical stripe pattern straight out of Mr Tim Burton’s 1988 classic Beetlejuice, they’re hardly subtle – but if you’ve got the quads to pull them off, they are a wonderful way of injecting a little fun into your holiday wardrobe. And while you’ll no doubt be revelling in the opportunity to show off the fruits of a long, dark winter spent in the gym, don’t forget that these shorts will also look great as part of an outfit. Try throwing a camp-collar shirt over the top – this black one from Bottega Veneta should do the trick.


The lively beach culture of Rio de Janeiro, el cidade maravilhosa – the “marvellous city” – is the inspiration behind British brand Frescobol Carioca, which was founded around 2009 and takes its name from frescobol, a popular bat-and-ball game, and the cariocas, Rio’s colourful inhabitants. The brand’s “Copacabana” shorts – featuring a geometric print inspired by Mr Roberto Burle Marx’s famous pavement mosaic on the Copacabana Beach promenade – are a particular favourite, but seeing as we’ve shone a light on them before, we thought we’d go for something a little bit different. These stripy shorts will add a dash of Latin flair to your summer look, and are sophisticated enough to take you from beach to samba bar: just throw on a white linen shirt, step into a pair of leather sandals and top it all off in a Panama hat. “The Girl From Ipanema”: optional.


In an attractive shade of burnt sienna that’s just far enough removed from red that you won’t be mistaken for a lifeguard, these shorts from the luxury fabric specialist Loro Piana exude Positano pizzazz, especially when partnered with a striped tee from one of our go-to Gallic brands, A.P.C. As with everything Loro Piana, the devil is in the detail: these shorts are beautifully constructed, flattering in fit and cut to land right at that mid-thigh sweet spot. Just remember to keep the SPF moisturiser topped up – it’s just the shorts that should be burnt orange, not the rest of you.


Are you the kind of guy that treats a trip to the beach as less of an excursion and more of a chance to risk life and limb? Yes? Then say hello to Everest Isles, an American-made swimwear brand that was founded in 2012 to make use of an archive of recycled Kevlar racing sails. These “Draupner” swim shorts don’t have any Kevlar in them – sorry – but they are packed with high-performance details, from the quick-drying and super-durable Schoeller-Dynatec nylon fabric to the multiple pockets secured with high-quality Italian-made RiRi zips.