Swim Trunks That Complement Your Body Type

by Alissa Marrapodi ; Updated September 28, 2017

Whether you're playing beach volleyball, barbecuing at a pool party, or lying horizontal on the deck of a cruise ship, if your swim trunks don't fit your body type, discomfort can monopolize your fun.

The Athlete

If you're athletic or a gym-junkie, consider that fit frames are complemented by shorter inseams -- a 5- or 7-inch length -- and bright, vivid colors. Try wild patterns such as geometrics and florals to show off your midsection and thighs. If your thighs are especially muscular, try wider leg openings with a cut that hits around mid-thigh. Opt in for button or drawstring closures.

The Slim Dude

If your natural build is slim and thin, go with swim trunks that hit above the knee all the way up to mid-thigh, and opt for narrow leg openings and a tailored, slim fit. If you prefer patterns, look for something with horizontal stripes to bulk up your frame, or go retro with geo shapes. Avoid bulky shorts; if your shorts have too much material or are too long, they will make you look smaller with ballooning fabrics. Keep 'em short and slim. Any type of waistband will work on you.


  • As a rule of thumb for all-sized men, if you're taller, opt in for longer shorts that hit just above the knee; shorter men look best in trunks that hit mid-thigh.

The Big Guy

Bigger body types score with one hard-fast tip: extra length and solid colors go a long way. Opt for swim trunks that hit above the knee in hues like bold orange or a dark blue, or try muted, softer colors such as a tan-and-black combo in a color-blocked pattern. If you're die-hard about patterns, go with a print that is more subtle. Avoid elastic waistbands, as they have the potential to cinch your waist; instead, opt for an adjustable, drawstring closure. Just remember, below-the-knee, baggy swim shorts add on size and weight.


  • To add perceived length to any suit, try trunks with a vertical stripe(s); this gives the illusion of length.

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About the Author

With 10 years of journalism experience, Alissa Marrapodi is the managing editor of Boardroom Journal and Food Product Design. Covering everything from health and nutrition to beauty and fashion, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.