Style SOS: What does smart-casual actually mean?
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I’m going on a beach holiday at the end of May and would like to look a bit stylish. I’m on a modest budget so can’t afford designer swim trunks. What are my options? – Pete, via email
Ever since Daniel Craig walked out of the sea as James Bond in those tight blue trunks, men have felt a need to up their game when it comes to what they wear in the water. And that’s no bad thing. While beachwear should feel relaxed, that doesn’t mean you should rely on the same pair of trunks you’ve broken out once a year for the last decade.
Now, we're going to make one big assumption here – by 'trunks' presumably you mean 'shorts'. If you're looking for tips on picking a Speedo then, frankly, there's only so much help we can offer. Whatever you pick, it will still be wrong, even if you actually are Daniel Craig stepping out of the sea as James Bond.
Not that swimming shorts are easy. Look around any beach or hotel pool and most of the pairs you spot will be terrible. That’s probably because their wearer only realised he was without as he was packing his suitcase, so had to make do with whatever the airport – or, even worse, a beachfront gift shop – had to offer. Acid colours, novelty patterns, unflattering cuts; they all stem from a lack of planning.
The good news is that, if you do shop this side of the departure gate, you can find a great-looking pair without having to spend as much as you did on the plane tickets. Generally, the same rules apply whether you’re wearing your shorts in the water or not – avoid anything novelty (ice lollies might seem like a cute idea but will feel very tired quickly) and get the length right. Swimmers can be a bit shorter than your dry-land shorts, but probably shouldn’t end more than six inches above your knee.
One pair of swimming trunks should see you through the duration of your holiday – if not the entire summer – although of course, if budget allows, you can always get a second pair so you can alternate. High street stalwart Marks and Spencer has some great options, patterned and plain, for under £20. This longer length style from our in-house brand, MVP, do double-duty: they're swimming shorts, but are long enough that you can just throw on a t-shirt and they still look great going for lunch or a sundowner. At the top end of the modest budget range is GANT, which applies its preppy sensibilities to these striped seersucker shorts, which would not look out of place in the Hamptons.
All you need now is to pack your SPF and you’re good to go.
Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Illustration: Ryan Gillett