1. Determine how you intend to use the swimsuit
If you are buying a suit for racing competitively, you’ll need a different suit than you would if you’re just swimming for fun. The more leg movement (i.e., actual swimming) you intend to do, the less fabric you should have on your swimsuit.
2. Decide what sort of style you want to adopt
If you want to really impress, think carefully about your build and research what sort of swimsuit looks best on someone with your body type. Different body types will look better with different colors, suit lengths, and patterns.
Trunks are the most common men’s swimwear in North America. They look similar to shorts worn as clothing on land, but are made from light, fast-drying materials (usually nylon or polyester) and feature a tighter-fitting lining inside the shorts. Longer versions that come past the knee are sometimes called boardshorts.
Swim briefs are often called “speedos,” a trademarked brand that has been popular for many years. They are tight, body-hugging swimsuits with a V-shaped front that bares the thighs. Recreational swim briefs typically feature an interior lining.
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Square-cut shorts are a body-hugging style that covers the wearer from the waist to the upper thigh. The leg openings are cut straight across the thigh for a boxy look that is slightly less revealing than angled swim briefs.
Jammers are knee-length, skintight suits used by competitive swimmers and other watersports participants to reduce drag. They resemble bike shorts, but without the padded crotch and seat.
3. Factor your budget into your decision-making process
Different swimsuits are priced differently. You can pick up a basic suit for about $15, a mid-range suit for around $30 to $50, and a deluxe swimsuit for $100 or more.
- If you’re buying your first swimsuit, you should get something on the budget end. This will give you a better sense of your needs and what you like in a suit.
- If you intend to do serious swimming, then your suit will get a lot of wear. You might want to spend a little extra to get a nicer swimsuit.
4. Know the visual impression you want to give
Who you’re going to be wearing your swimsuit around, and what you want from them, plays just as important a role as your activities.
Men who are planning on hitting up beach parties and crowd scenes, perhaps with an eye toward meeting for romance, need to be a little pickier. And businessmen who may end up in the spa or hotel pool with co-workers and business partners have their own special concerns. Ask yourself:
- Are you trying to impress anyone? If not, stop worrying. Wear whatever is comfortable and works for you.
- Do you want to look sexy? If so, you’ll need a cut that flatters your body type (see below), and a colour and pattern that’s eye-catching without being ridiculous. Think stripes, plaids, bright solids, or some not-too-crazy floral patterning.
- Are you trying to look professional? Conservative (but not exaggerated) dark colours, solid colours or restrained stripes are for you.
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These affect cuts as well as colours and patterns: tight, form-fitting styles look sharp and practical in the longer cuts, but sexualised and only good for showing off your body in the smaller cuts.
As you can see there are no right or wrong choices here, but you should realistically expect your choices to have some effect on other people. There are going to be visual judgments, whether you want them or not.