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Words by Mr Derek Blasberg, author of modern
etiquette guides Classy and Very Classy

The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer. You know what that means? It's beach season, fellas. But fear not. Even though putting together an appropriately brief ensemble can be more difficult than coordinating a business suit, there are ways to look stylish in the surf.

First, let's take inspiration from the icons, the movie stars and rock gods (and even a prince) who have got it right on the beach. A good thing to remember right off the bat is that there isn't anything wrong with a gentleman showing some skin. If Mr Clint Eastwood was butch enough to wear a pair of tiny board shorts, so can you. And who could forget the sun-drenched decadence of Mr Jude Law's Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr Ripley, perhaps one of the most stylistically convincing beach moments in cinematic history? And he taught us all a valuable lesson: even if you're not a playboy expat, steer clear of social ladder-climbing psychos on and off the beach.

Dickie Greenleaf knew the power of the entire summer ensemble. His linen shirts flapped open when he caroused on the beach, his louche, wide trousers flowed effortlessly as he ran down tiny Italian streets, and his leather sandals were classic and practical. Summer is not just about picking the perfect swimsuit, but also how you dress it up - from top (a smart straw hat is always better than a beat-up baseball cap) to bottom (think simple when it comes to footwear, and if in doubt there's nothing wrong with a simple pair of Havaianas flip-flops). A leather gladiator sandal may be considered trendy for summer days in the city, but it's not the most practical footwear for the beach. It takes too long to buckle, leaves ridiculous tan lines, and it's hard to look nonchalant when you're unfastening your feet before frolicking in the surf. These are better left to, well, gladiators.

There isn't anything wrong with a gentleman showing some skin. If Mr Clint Eastwood was butch enough to wear a pair of tiny board shorts, so can you

When it comes to T-shirts, strive for something classic, simple and easy, which means avoiding gratuitous graphics. Think of Mr Ryan O'Neal in his Love Story heyday, when the then heart-throb wore a plain, perfectly fitted white T-shirt to chase love Ms Ali MacGraw around in the waves. Shirts with collars should be worn open, and don't worry about getting to all the buttons. The beach is about being effortless, even if you're working extra-hard to achieve it.

If in further doubt, think like a prince... especially, Prince Charles. If the photo evidence from the 1980s is any indication, the man is well-versed in water sports. I like Chuck: he's a friend of the environment, knows his way around Savile Row, and even dabbles in watercolours when he's not off being the heir apparent. The cut of his shorts, which weren't retro at the time, have come back in style too - look to new brand Robinson Les Bains to achieve the look. Knee-skimming board shorts seem bulky today. And who knew Prince Charles had such nice legs?

So avoid unsightly bagginess at all costs. Even if you think it's not particularly mannish to wear short shorts, don't overcompensate with 1990s-inspired voluminous long shorts that go below the knees. It'll look like a swim skirt, and even Prince Charles wouldn't dream of wearing a kilt to the beach.

A few things to remember when deciding on trunks: just like a business suit, fit is what is important. You don't want muffin tops hanging from the waist, and you don't want anything dangling from the bottom. Find something that sits snug on the waistband, but doesn't constrict. Remember that traditional drawstrings help you get the right fit and make sense with holiday party-related waist-size fluctuations.

Summer is about festive frivolity. This is the time to plan long, carefree days that end in long wanton nights

Lest we forget, the point of the beach is to have fun. Don't be afraid of a little bit of colour, or even a funky print. After all, even Conan the Barbarian's son Mr Patrick Schwarzenegger recently had the coconuts to wear a pair of Vilebrequin powder-blue shorts with multicoloured fruits on them. And lastly, smile in the sun. (You're on the beach, for goodness sake!) As with any part of a man's wardrobe, confidence is key. No, you don't want to be the guy that peacocks down the surf cat-calling scantily clad women - that would make you a pervert, actually - but you don't want to be a shrinking beach flower either. Chances are there will always be a guy with bigger muscles and a smaller suit than you, but summer is meant to be about festive frivolity; this is the time to plan long, carefree days that end in long, wanton nights. Look at Sir Mick Jagger. The scrawny kid with the big lips and the swivelling hips took his open shirt and short shorts to the beach, and came home with the world's most beautiful blonde.

For some further tips on Beach Dos and Don'ts, keep reading.