Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome to Ask the Experts, a new feature in which we solicit shopping advice from designers. Because after all, who knows more about how to buy an article of clothing than the people who obsess about fit and fabric for a living?
One thing we know: New York in the summer is hot. Really hot. Take-off-all-your-clothes hot. But since being outside and naked is illegal, it's key to wear as little clothing as possible without looking offensive. Buying a swimsuit can be daunting for men—just ask Henry Alford, who chronicled his search for trunks in the Times style section recently. So we recruited Adam Brown, the designer of Orlebar Brown, a newly-launched swimwear line with a more tailored approach to beach and swim shorts, to give us his best shopping tips.
Tailored is more flattering that loose.
Who says baggy is best? If you're trying to hide a gut, it will only make things worse. Why do people think baggy boxer short styles with elasticated waistbands are more flattering? Regardless of body shape (fat, thin, pear-shaped or muscular), everyone looks better in something that is nicely cut. Elastic waistbands just cut into your stomach and accentuate those extra pounds. As with a well-cut suit, a more tailored approach to swim shorts is always more flattering.
It's OK to show some thigh—but don't feel like you have to.
Don't just assume long is best. Over the last few years, we seem to have been bulldozed into thinking all beach shorts should either be very very long or very very short. Experiment with length. Think about your height. If you're not so tall, maybe a longer short is merely going to emphasize your lack of height. And if you are very tall, don't go too short. Think mid-length which could be more flattering.
Know what colors look good on you.
Not all colors work for all people. We always advise people to be slightly adventurous with color but do think about your skin tones. Bright colors like orange or red look better on darker and well-tanned skin tones. If you are paler, keep to navy or pale blues so that you won't wash yourself out. If in doubt, choose black. It always looks good on pretty much everyone.
Never choose anything with a cotton content in the fabric. Cotton fades in chlorine and reacts badly to other chemicals. Salt water, too.
Don't forget the net liners inside your shorts.
Especially if they are a lighter color—especially white. Light colors can often go semi-transparent when wet, and remember: Without a liner, you might be showing off more then you intended too when lying back on your sun lounger or playing volley ball on the beach.
Don't wear socks and sandals
It's never a good look anywhere.