The Edit

The Swim Shorts To Wear This Summer

From graphic prints to block colours, here’s the swimwear to pack this holiday

When packing for a summer getaway, swim shorts are the first item to go in that shiny new Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano carry-on. But which shorts do you go for? You want to kick back and relax, but beaches and pools are public places. You are on show, which means a laissez-faire attitude won’t cut it, unless you want to invite disappointing glances from your fellow pool-siders.

To help you find the perfect pair, here are six trends guaranteed to make waves. Go on, take the plunge (or at the very least dip a toe).

Colour blocking

Colour blocking – the use of solid blocks of bold colour – owes its origins to modernist architect Le Corbusier and De Stijl designer Mr Gerrit Rietveld, whose vivid hues were revolutionary in the early 20th century. Earn yourself some extra Bauhaus points and add a subtle hint of Le Corbusier to your wardrobe with Officine Generale’s slim-fit swim shorts in candy-apple red, or make a solid statement with Boglioli’s smart iteration in royal blue. They’ll allow you to migrate between beach and beach bar with ease.


You are on holiday, so it’s time to ditch the workaday navy, black and grey for something more adventurous. This summer is all about soft pastel hues, colours that evoke memories of long afternoons on a Californian beach or sunsets aboard a yacht off Corfu. Make a splash in Orlebar Brown’s Bulldog shorts in rose pink – one of this season’s most popular colours – or Loro Piana’s mellow-hued offering in yellow. Best worn with a tan, and confidence.


Lush flowers and rich foliage are all ideal ways to liven up your wardrobe. This season’s botanical prints are quite different from their chintzy forebears. Their vibrant colours and bold forms recall 1950s surfer gear, and we can’t get enough of it. These Incotex shorts are printed with tropical flowers in sunny shades of yellow, pink and blue – a stylish addition to any pool-side line-up.


There is one image that should come to mind in any discussion of tropical print, and that’s Mr Elvis Presley, airbrushed to matinée-idol perfection on the promotional artwork for 1961’s Blue Hawaii. Swathed in a floral-print shirt, he looked like a god on Earth. A Hawaiian shirt encapsulates the escapism of summer and immediately screams “holiday”. This season, brands such as Stüssy, Gitman Vintage and Hartford have been inspired by this exotic look. On MR PORTER for summer, you’ll find banana leaves and pineapple prints aplenty. If you’ve warmed to the idea of introducing a little pattern into your wardrobe, try these Dolce & Gabbana leaf-print swim shorts or Onia’s floral-print swim shorts. In a muted colour palette that softens tropical print’s novelty connotations, they are more cool than kitsch and will earn you major pool-side points.

Animal Print

If you’re the sort of gent who likes to make a bold statement, look no further than French label Vilebrequin. Founded in Saint-Tropez in 1971 (at the height of Riviera glamour), it’s the go-to label for vivid, attention-grabbing shorts. Often printed with whimsical turtles, dancing polar bears and courting cranes, they’ll inject some fun into your summer ensemble. These signature Moorea swim shorts are patterned with the brand’s vibrant Octopussy motif. If they don’t make a splash, then we don’t know what will.

Retro print

The 1970s were a colour free for all, and there was a definite whiff of the decade at this season’s menswear shows, with Gucci and Etro sending paisley, double denim, mustards and Cuban heels clattering down the runway. Incorporate the trend into your wardrobe with a pair of Tom Ford’s psychedelic swirl-print swim shorts. Made from quick-drying shell and fitted with adjustable waist tabs, they’re an adaptable option for both the pool and lunch on the quayside.

A question of length

A brief runthrough of how short you should wear your shorts depending on your body type


Almost 20 years on and we’re still emulating the laissez-faire tailoring (and the knitted polo shirts) of Mr Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley. This summer, shorts are getting shorter, but in a distinctly 1950s-style silhouette. Fans of this style include Messrs David Gandy and Orlando Bloom. If you are particularly short or thick-calved, then higher hemmed shorts will stretch you out a little – not as painful as it sounds, honest – giving the impression of longer legs. You’ll want your inseam to fall in the higher reaches of that band. One other tip: the shorter your shorts, the fewer things you want to carry around in your pockets. You know, to avoid confusing bulges.


Probably the most versatile swimwear for men. Mid-lengths are appropriate for boardwalk bars and beaches alike. If you’re hoping to show off the fruits of a long, dark winter spent in the gym, then these are the shorts for you; they end about 4in above the knee, so just high enough to show off those quads. With a tailored fit that is sculpted without being skimpy, they are favoured by the likes of Messrs Hugh Jackman and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Try throwing a camp-collar shirt over the top – this one by Private White VC should do the trick.


Everyone from Mr Zac Efron to Mr Matthew McConaughey are fans of long board shorts. They are, after all, a perennial beach classic, favoured by young and older gents alike, especially if they have a hibiscus pattern. Board shorts fall just above, or on, the knee – any longer and you’re veering on three-quarter lengths, which is something best left to the 1990s. Whether patterned or plain, wear them with a white linen shirt, such as this one from Ermenegildo Zegna, for a sophisticated pool-side look.