I had received a few messages from you guys asking for swimwear ideas for the upcoming summer season. Unfortunately, I am too late catching you before heading out with the Brothers on your Spring Break road trip from Columbia to that coastal SEC stronghold that is the one and only Gulf Shores. But we’ll have plenty more sunshine to bake under while we have our drunken fun, as Summer Term I rolls out (time to take that blow-off general ed. credit!) and the first round of the midyear holidays arrives with upcoming Memorial Weekend in a few days, bringing us short shorts, and even-shorter skirts kind of weather. Perfect for “studying” for the Western Civilization midterm while you tan shirtless on the bell tower quad, taking glances from behind the safety of your Persols at the incoming barely legal frosh girls, still sweet and innocent as they tour the campus with their parents, in those awesome thigh-revealing Nike athletic shorts that all Daddy’s lil’ future sorostitutes start collecting for the dorm/gym/everything.
Or maybe instead of sticking close to College St. for the break, you find yourself heading home and catching up with your high school buddies. (Who got fat and pregnant this year?) Undoubtedly you will be invited to someone’s friend’s backyard pool party, where you can hit on your little sister’s 10th grade friends. Perhaps your cousin invites you out to the Lake Michigan on his Yamaha with a few beers chilling in his ol’ Yeti that his college Theta sweetheart decorated for him (married now for 5 years strong!). Or maybe you just want to head out to the pier with you golden retriever to the pier to catch a few fish as the sun sets well into the night.
All of these spirited occasions call for the most casual of preppy attire. I’ll loosely label this topic as “Swim Trunks”, alluding to aquatic use, but it can also cover all the times your toes dig deep into the sand or when your neck gets attacked by mosquitos at a poolside barbecue. For all the times a body of water is nearby or if you just want an alternative to stuffy chino shorts while sunbathing at the deck. Thus keeping to our preppy and fratty tradition, below are my personal picks.
For the younger crowd who are still in college or are post grad by a few years, you can easily get away with TFM. I prefer only two shorts for this theme: Patagonia 5″ Inseam Baggies and Vineyard Vines Chappy Trunks. Those two brands obviously come into play as amongst the ultimate fratdaddy approved, but their swimwear also coincides with my short inseam campaign by hitting well above the knee (which is not only fratty but also has utility too: less fabric to weigh you down with water log). Having one of each should carry you through, as I currently do, but feel free to collect more colors and patterns if you visit the beach more often. I especially like the classically popular Chappy motifs of preppy paisley graphics.
Patagonia does offer a 7″ Inseam Baggies, but since these shorts have a high rise, the inseam is not short enough for our purposes, causing it to hit just above the knee and not well above for our tastes. So I recommend the 5″ unless you are a freakishly tall manmore.
Perhaps noticeably missing are the shorts from Ralph Lauren. These tend to also be a fratdaddy favorite, but I personally advise against them solely because Blue Label apparel with the visible Pony logo has now fallen out of favor. I’ve talked about this transition before in past writings, but simply put, a Pony is not as fratastic nor preppy as the Whale or the Dusk Mountain Range in the curriculum of preppier than thou’. Sorry Ralph! But your staple polo shirt (and in this instance your trunks) with those increasingly larger and larger pony logos are just too mainstream to be considered novel by our elitist tastes.
But if you must go against my wishes, I will concede and recommend the Hawaiian 5″ Inseam Swim Boxer.
And speaking of logos, I am also adverse to our usual suspects such as Brooks Brothers or J Press York St. Yes, they too offer trunks, but I like the Golden Fleece as it was originally intended: for trad attire and not for athletic and swimwear. I like to keep my brands separated within their realm of perceived expertise. You wouldn’t buy an expensive timepiece from a fashion house like Burberry, and instead opt for a real watch maker like Omega. Same deduction.
Which then leads me to the newer crop of frat goodies. The likes of Southern Marsh, Southern Tide, and Chubbies have entered the swim market, but I will refer you to the caveat of the above explanation. Although, I can see a freshman buying one for his third or fourth pair. But my bounded idiosyncrasies about these matters pull me back to the null statement: you only have a relatively short window of time to wear these options. I’d say anything past a few years out of school gives you the hint to retire the frat labels.
I’ve endorsed Chubbies before because I like their spirit and dedication to my #ShortShorts (or #ThighsOut) campaign. Their selection comes in Swim and Boat Shorts. I especially like the unique “Sperry Top Sider” leather detail at the back. Recently they also came out with a Nautical collection with some interesting and flashy designs, but don’t appear to be necessarily water proof. Good for eating crabcakes on your yacht though! If I had to choose a fratdaddy company then Chubs’ would get my take.
But to play it safe for your staple pair, and to keep me from having an aneurysm, just take my word for it: Baggies or Chappies.
So what does happen a few years down the line after your college days? What would a Fratdaddy turned Trad-actually-is-a-daddy wear? I think the Baggies and Chappys are still fair game to a certain extent, although possibly no longer of first tier preference. Here again, I keep to the classic school of thought for the answer, and go to the established experts, and in particular to two highly established surfing companies. Quicksilver was one of the first of the major surfing brands to offer short-inseam styles (a welcome change from the low hanging, baggy boardshorts that makes no sense in practical terms…water log!) about five years ago as an ode to the hip hugging 1970′s. And Sundeck Rainbow board shorts actually lived famously during those times, adorning the pioneering Califronia Dreamin’ wave riders, and finally coming back to prominence when the company was reintroduced as a higher-end swim trunk option in 2008.
I would get a funky print or vintage pattern with Quicksilver. They go by outseam; the below model is 18″ which translates to 7″ inseam.
Sundek is what I’ll be wearing until I am a grandpa and creepin’ on the bikini clad ladies. The famous Rainbow is to swimwear as what Clubmasters are for sunglasses, in that they may trace their heritage to the mid-century, and therefore are what seasoned trads would wear.
Goes hand in hand with swimwear. Rainbow Sandals. That’s it. There is no wiggle room here. I remember when my older brother bought his first pair in 1998 when it was still just known among surfers (he still has that pair too). Now they’ve risen to the notoriety of being the only acceptable, non-el cheapo pair of flip flops for men. This transcends our sub community of trad/prep/frat btw; I say this as a blanket statement for all.
I got my first pair in freshman year of high school and only had to replace with a second just a few years ago because the soles had worn through – I suspect the switch away from Made in USA manufacturing that my brother was lucky enough to benefit from may have played into the decline in the historically very reputable quality. Nevertheless, I recommend Rainbow Sandals and Rainbow only. The single layer in brown leather is all you need.
Just don’t let me see your nasty ass jacked toes outside the boundary of dress code regarded in this article. Grown men in flip flops otherwise is just gross.
How To Wear:
As mentioned in the opening dialogue, you can wear trunks for its explicit use in the water, or to “pseudo aqueous” occasions like tanning or freeballing (*wink). The Baggies in particular can double as lounge shorts and can be frequently seen on campus, with Greeks mixmatching with OCBDs or frockets. I love them for swimming, hiking, or events of extremely minimal effort from my part.
Going into the deep blue. Besides the obvious like a towel and sunscreen, I always accessorize with headgear and sunglasses to keep sun exposure down. I also prefer to bring a sport watch but usually keep it in my beach bag once I get there to reduce tan lines or potential mechanical injury (just because it is water-resistant does not mean it loves salt!)
Frocket at the back! Sneak one past the lifeguard.
Besides frocket tees, another TFM move is wearing an old lax or soccer pinnie (and I’ve seen some universities sell them too). Mind you, this is strictly for the boardwalk or for bathroom breaks between soaking up the sun. The point is that you will take off your top at some point.
I know. DYEL? fffffuuuUUUUUU
If you don’t want to show off your belly ring then you can bring a tank instead. This one was freebie swag from Chubbies. Shown with my Vineyard Vines Chappy. I said earlier that I like the crazier designs, but ultimately chose this pattern to err on minimalism (as comparatively minimal as plaid can be I suppose) since this is my only pair.
Pushing arm fat for illusion. Thighs Out, agreed!
Speaking of Chubbies- I reveal to the world my ‘Muricas! These aren’t trunks but can still be worn in similar fashion outside the water. Kept only for special occasions; notably a July 4th house party last year. And yeah, this does go against my own rules regarding such matters, flying against my earlier sentiment in related posts. I will probably withdraw them from its short run in a few years anyway, as my youthful window of excuse tick tocks quickly away (although I can reserve it for lazy afternoons around the apartment), and am indeed already past my prime for this level of fratitude. However, I do hope to enjoy these abominations of Going to Hell a little longer.
Worn for the pseudo aqueous stuff like cookouts or picnics on the lawn. Preferably during a summer holiday weekend. Put the back frocket to good use. I got your Stars and Stripes right here buddy! Enjoy summer! Don’t drown.