It’s almost summertime, and that means it’s time to hit the beach (or the pool). But with the joys of hitting the waves, springing from the diving boards, and basking in the summer sun come the added anxieties of picking the right swimwear. Not to worry: we’ve put together this guide to walk you through everything you need to know about buying swimwear this summer.
When it comes to the length of your trunks, odds are that you already have an opinion. You may be a stalwart fan of the ultra-snug, brief-style bathing suit, or you may blush at the idea of revealing so much of your body (don’t be embarrassed—you look great).
You may find yourself drifting toward the longer board short styles that can extend below the knee and have plenty of room, or you may find those shorts to be a little too spacious.
You may even take the middle road and opt for a pair of swim shorts that aren’t quite as tight as briefs while not being as long and baggy as a pair of board shorts.
Whatever style you prefer, there’s room for all kinds at the beach. The best style of swim shorts is the one that makes you feel and look your best—it can be hard to strut your stuff down the boardwalk when you’re feeling self-conscious in your swimsuit, so make sure that you choose something you’ll be comfortable in.
While most guys opt to go topless at the beach, there are plenty of reasons why many men wear shirts to the beach. Some are surfers who want to cut down on friction and abrasion that can occur when paddling out. Others are guys trying to fight the harmful radiation that comes along with the sun’s rays. Whatever the reason, there are different articles of swimwear that can help.
Designed (and named) for surfers, rash guards are made to take on the extreme conditions associated with surfing. These shirts can have short or long sleeves and are made from material that protects against sunburns, sand burns, and abrasion from the surfboard. Rash guards can vary in style and fit, but most have a fairly snug fit—similar to a compression shirt. Some rash guards are made to provide an extra layer of warmth in chilly waters, but not all are made for this purpose.
Swim shirts, sometimes called surf shirts, are built to provide protection from UV radiation—protection that, unlike sunscreen, won’t wash off in the water. Similar to rash guards, swim and surf shirts are often made with chafe-free seams to protect against abrasion while swimming.
The biggest difference between rash guards and swim shirts is the fit. While rash guards are often form-fitting and compressive, swim shirts tend to be a little looser. If you’re a surfer who wants to cut down on drag, you might prefer the snugger fit of a rash guard, but non-surfers simply looking to fight UV radiation while at the beach or the boardwalk might prefer the simple protection of a swim shirt.
While rash guards and swim shirts are made to protect from the sun, the sand, and the surf, they don’t provide as much protection from the cold as the classic wetsuit. Wetsuits have been around since the 1950s, and advances in fabric technologies have made them better and better as decades have gone on.
Most wetsuits are pretty tight—while this helps to cut down on drag, the snugness also helps hold in warmth while the wearer braves frigid water. Some wetsuits are capable of keeping their wearers safe in nearly freezing water, which is helpful for hardcore surfers who don’t want to wait until summer—and for scuba divers in chilly deep waters.
Of course, if chilly water’s your thing, be sure to check out what we have to say about ice baths!
While the different cuts and styles are important to consider for personal preference, pretty much everybody can agree on the importance of a number of factors when it comes to the performance of the material. These factors are:
Ultimately, comfort is incredibly important if you’re going to be spending a day in any article of clothing. If your swimsuit is too tight or your rash guard is too baggy, you may find yourself wanting to abandon your favorite activities early just to get home and change. So it’s important to make sure that the clothing you wear to the beach is as comfortable as it is stylish.
It can be weird to think about, but our bodies are covered in tiny living things called microorganisms. These microorganisms, when combined with sweat, can create some pretty unpleasant body odor. That’s why many fabrics used for making athletic apparel these days are engineered to be anti-microbial.
Antimicrobial materials kill or slow the spread of microorganisms before they’re able to cause odor—keeping you comfortable and odor-free for as long as possible. While you may be jumping in and out of the water throughout the day, you still want to keep smelling fresh—especially if you’re doing anything athletic, like surfing or running on the beach.
This may seem a little silly for swimwear because it’s made to wear in the water, but the best swimwear is made with moisture-wicking materials. Fabrics that are moisture-wicking are engineered to rapidly pull moisture away from the body and allow it to quickly dry on the surface of the material.
Moisture-wicking capabilities are incredibly important when it comes to athletic apparel—because of all the sweat that you need to draw away from your body while working out—but swimwear made with moisture-wicking materials has the benefit of drying very quickly. If you’re somebody who enjoys the feeling of sitting around in a wet bathing suit, you may not be concerned about your swimwear’s quick-drying properties, but most people feel more comfortable when their trunks are warm and dry.
UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor. Similar to SPF (sun protection factor), UPF is a way of measuring protection from the sun.
SPF refers to the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden—if you’d normally burn after 20 minutes in the sun, an SPF-15 sunscreen may protect your skin 15 times longer.
UPF, on the other hand, has to do with the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabrics and reach your skin. When it comes to shopping around for swimwear, UPF is the number you should look out for. Most UPF-protective clothing has a UPF of 50, which blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays, greatly reducing your exposure to its harmful radiation.
The main benefit of wearing UPF-protective clothing over simply slathering on sunscreen is that clothing won’t wash off in the water. When you apply sunscreen, you only have so long until you either sweat it off in the sun or you rinse it off in the water—but with UPF-protective swimwear, you can stay protected throughout an entire day without having to worry about reapplying lotion.
At Willy California, we offer a number of excellent swimwear options, built for every need imaginable. Here are a couple of our favorites:
Our Board Shorts are made to be the perfect swim trunks for guys who like the classics. They are just as good on land as they are at sea, so you can feel comfortable sporting them on the surfboard during the day and then taking an evening stroll along the boardwalk.
Willy California Board Shorts are made to be both water repellent and quick-drying, so you don’t need to worry about sitting around in a wet bathing suit. Plus, they’re made with anti-microbial, UPF-protective materials that will protect you from both odor-causing microorganisms and harmful radiation from the sun. They even have a back pocket for your keys or cards (just don’t forget your phone in there when you dive in).
As we’ve discussed, it’s important to protect yourself from the elements, whether you’re surfing, swimming, or simply sitting on the sand. That’s why we made our Rash Guard both comfortable and protective. Built to defend you from the sun’s harmful rays, our Rash Guard also wicks moisture away and fights odor-causing bacteria with its anti-microbial fabric blend.
While our Rash Guard and Board Shorts look great on their own, they were designed to pair with each other—so if you’re looking for a great set of swimwear, take a look at the combo we’ve put together for you.
Buying swimwear shouldn’t have to be a hassle. By knowing what to look for when purchasing your next swim shirt or pair of trunks, you can save yourself the stress and focus on getting where you really want to be: the beach.