The Rules Of Poolside Cool

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The Rules Of Poolside Cool

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Mr Nacho Alegre | Styling by Ms Sophie Hardcastle

20 May 2015

At Barcelona’s iconic Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc, we bring together the best swim brands from around the globe.

Have you felt distracted recently? Finding yourself gazing absent-mindedly into the milk froth of your cappuccino when you should be answering emails? If so, don’t fret: it’s probably just that time of year – the time when our thoughts shift away from the daily grind onto the prospect of long, lazy days when the sum total of our responsibilities is to apply sunscreen, roll over once every half an hour and occasionally order another drink.

One of the best things about a summer weekend or vacation that revolves around sitting by the pool and doing practically nothing is that you’re required to pack… well, practically nothing. All you really need, when it comes down to it, is a good pair of swim shorts. (And maybe throw in a towel. And a polo shirt. Or three.) Even so, there’s still an abundance of choice out there. To provide you with a little guidance, we’ve created an edit of this season’s best swimwear.


Printed with bold black and white stripes and finishing well above mid-thigh, these cropped swim shorts are not for the faint of heart. But if you have the body for it, there’s no better way to showcase it. The nautically inspired design is classic Dolce & Gabbana, which has a monopoly on this particular brand of nonchalant Italian cool.


Etro’s dandyish paisley print appears on ties, shirts, pocket squares, the linings of blazers and occasionally even on the blazers themselves – but it’s on the brand’s excellent range of swim shorts that we think it feels most at home. Why? The majority of men are obliged to dress in a relatively sober fashion for most of the year, and swim shorts are one of our only opportunities to let loose and have a little fun. Etro’s paisley swim shorts provide the perfect antidote to our usual wardrobe of drab greys and blues. You’re on holiday. Why not?


The red, white and blue Thom Browne tricolour is cleverly recreated here in a nod to that classic lightweight summer fabric, seersucker. There’s something pyjama-like about these shorts that we find quite charming. It’s a refined, unorthodox choice that’s certain to set you apart among the hordes of boring navy or lurid prints. Plus, the looser cut will suit men of most builds.


Vilebrequin is a jewel of the French Riviera. Founded in 1971 by a motoring journalist – the name means “crankshaft” in French – there’s no other brand out there that captures the carefree spirit of the Cote d’Azur quite so well. While Vilebrequin’s vibrant prints speak of summer in Saint Tropez, the Brazilian brand Frescobol Carioca evokes an altogether different, more distant beach scene. Inspired by Rio de Janeiro – the word “Carioca” meaning to Rio what Muscovite means to Moscow, or Angeleno to LA – its range of linen towels include ones printed with the swirling patterns found on the promenade running along Copacabana beach.


Like the internet, power steering and contactless payment, it’s hard to imagine a time before Orlebar Brown. Which makes it all the more astounding to recall that it was only in 2007, a mere eight years ago, that photographer Mr Adam Brown launched his now ubiquitous swimwear brand. Designed as more of a “short that you can swim in” than a swim short per se, it created a new market for smartly tailored swimwear of the sort that allows you to migrate between the beach and the beachside bar with ease. We’re big fans of its Bulldog mid-length model in brick red, worn here with a long-sleeved tee from A.P.C..


Who wears short shorts? You do – assuming, of course, that you have the gym-honed physique to carry them off. Undertake an honest self-assessment before donning these navy blue shorts from Marc by Marc Jacobs, which stop just short of being skimpy but are still among the more daring options available on MR PORTER. Cut from shell fabric of the sort you’d find in a packaway raincoat, they’re incredibly lightweight and will dry in no time at all. The perfect choice for advocates of the architect Mr Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s maxim, “less is more”.


Break up the endless azure with Missoni’s eye-catching, zigzag-patterned shorts. Cooler colours such as blue and green suit pale skin, so those not blessed with olive skin should keep a pair of these to hand – at least until they’ve had a chance to build up a respectable tan. Finishing above mid-thigh, these are “shorts” that certainly merit the name. But the neat, streamlined fit keeps things proper, while the print – unmistakably Missoni – marks the wearer out as a man of discerning taste.


Don’t be fooled by the American-sounding name. Hartford is, in fact, a French brand, founded in 1979 by Mr Yves Chareton, a man on a quest to recreate the perfect 1950s button-down shirt. Mr Chareton’s vintage Americana by way of Paris aesthetic became a hit with men such as Mr Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s – but it wasn’t until 2000 that he launched the now much-loved Hartford swimwear line. A word to the wise: white swimwear should be approached with a degree of caution, as it can leave little to the imagination when wet. These particular shorts are cut from substantial enough fabric that this shouldn’t be a problem – but still, tread carefully. Nothing will spoil your “James Bond emerging from the water” moment quite like a bit of indecent exposure.