Bathing Costumes

 Navy trunks: why other colors exist is another of man's great mysteries.

Navy trunks: why other colors exist is another of man's great mysteries.

    Many men rely upon a gigantic watch with depth dials and tidal indicators (that go unused) as the default attempt at style when beach-bound.  At the other extreme: sarongs.  It wasn’t always this way; resort styles for men were big business not so long ago, and while we might not bemoan the disappearance of the male romper, there is little consolation in exuberantly printed board shorts and undershirts.  I find the previous evening’s shirt worn with the sleeves rolled and several buttons undone is a good compromise, but as a genre, things could stand to improve.

    For years the standard advice for trunks was to avoid elasticized waistbands in favor of fixed buttons or snaps.  But like so many of the familiar nuggets of wisdom shamelessly passed between men’s style outlets, this one sounds better in print than it functions in reality.  The theory is that elasticized waistbands cut into the wearer, exaggerating any unsightly excess flesh.  Of course if real love handles are in play, then the composition of the waistband matters little in their display.  Flat-stomached men can get away with either fixed or elasticized, but I've witnessed enough fixed waistbands straining at the seams to wonder if elasticized is the better option after all.  Plus, if swimming, surfing, diving or anything more rigorous than lounging is on the agenda, an elasticized band with a good drawstring is always preferable.  In a solid color or semi-solid pattern, and with a leg that finishes above the knee, trunks can be quite flattering.  

    Turkish toweling, or terry, if you prefer, is limited to oversized bath robes these days rather than the shorter length and occasionally patterned beach robes seen in vintage adds.  This is a pity; what could be more useful at a resort or seaside club than an easily shed jacket-shaped towel with patch-pockets and a belt?  Cover-ups are almost always required between pool, beach and bar, and certainly within hotel lobbies.  All the putting-on and taking-off of your polo means it quickly pulls out of shape, and if your trunks haven’t any pockets—well what then?  The best I’ve ever seen is my Father’s: deep navy terry, with wide, corduroy wales, three patch pockets and a notch lapel.  Perfection.  Why no one makes these any longer is one of man’s great mysteries.  Suggestions for where to have such a robe made are welcome.

    The last time I was in Spain, perhaps following too much rosado, I was coerced into buying a pair of espadrilles.  I had visions of wearing them to cocktail hour at resorts and back home to casual daytime gatherings.  Sadly, I found they chaffed, slipped about polished floors like ice-skates, and most disappointingly of all, were stifling.  If a pair can avoid those pitfalls, espadrilles might be the ideal beach-side solution—far better than the ubiquitous flip-flop in its ability to go from beach to lobby to cafe.  I have instead resorted for several years to a sand-and-surf-battered pair of plimsolls.  They started life white, but, like flamingos that spend much of their time eating shellfish in the shallows, have turned that tell-tale shade of pink—a surprisingly versatile color for casual footwear. 

 Just don't stand on one leg.

Just don't stand on one leg.