After hitting the surf in the kind of beachwear your grandpa would have sported (don't ask), GQ's Jonathan Heaf gives you his advice on buying the right pair of swim shorts for summer...
Maybe it was the rum. Maybe it was the sun. Maybe it was a combination of the two, mixed in unmeasured, unchecked quantities - all afternoon. Whatever was to blame, a few weeks ago I found myself inside a 3'x3', Victorian bathing box (a small tent essentially) on a shingle beach with my manhood flapping about like a windsock and my legs and torso halfway inside a boiled wool, original Twenties swimming costume.
It'll take more time than we both have to explain how I ended up in such a compromising position - but, boy, those Victorian men with their big, beefcake moustaches, saucy sepia snaps, and a love for a good thwacking with a cane sure had some seriously kinky ideas when it came to swimwear.
The "piece" I was climbing into was a full on, pre-Borat style mankini; the sort of thing you'd see a strong man wearing at a circus in a children's book about an underdeveloped, talking elephant. It was tight - really tight - it was warm, it was itchy and it had two straps that circled over my arms, crossed at the back, yet still managed to leave enough space across my sternum so that my nipples poked out like two unblinking mutant eyes. I felt like a cross between a flashing Janet Jackson at the Superbowl and a boyish looking, bisexual diving champion going through a phase. Actually, oddly, it felt pretty damn good. Of course, I looked ridiculous.
The truth is if you want to get noticed - in the correct way - this summer round the pool in Puglia or on the sands of Sicily then you need to get your swimwear game back on track.
You know how sometimes while holidaying - perhaps as your girlfriend has left you reading her dogeared copy of Gone Girlwhile she takes a calming yoga lesson - you spend an hour or two staring at the hot, utterly uninterested woman lying a little further down the sand? Well, you need to start applying your own morally ambiguous, utterly sexist objectification of the human form to - yep, you guessed it - yourself.
Have you seen what you look like on the beach recently in those wafting, knee-length Hot Tuna board shorts you've had since going to the Greek Island of Zante with your university pals? You don't look like Daniel Craig coming out of the cyan surf in a pair of baby blue budgie smugglers, put it that way. Nor like Johnny Weissmuller, the perfectly formed 1930s Tarzan, who's loin cloth seemed always to fall just so. You look like a character actor from a bad adaptation of Alex Garland's The Beach. You look like human drift wood wrapped in an old Tesco's bag. You look like an extra from The Inbetweeners movie. You look like... you need to go shopping.
So what to do? How to look sexier, avoid the sniggers, and (possibly) get laid this summer? The trend you want to focus on comes in the shape of a square. Nothing too tight that makes you look like you're wearing one half of your girlfriends two piece - okay other than you, David Gandy; as you were - nor too baggy that, when in water, will make you look like you've been caught up in a first World War parachute. And board shorts will only ever do if you're jobbing as a beach barman in Hawaii and your employer insists on keeping an authentic "gnarly" vibe.
You could do a lot worse than start with Orlebar Brown. I have several pairs and the crunchy fabric that feels a little like waxed cotton - in a good way - allows the mid thigh-length shorts keep their shape both while doing lengths of the pool and while doing finger lengths of your iPad screen on the sun lounger. Of course, you may be temped to pop into a pair boasting some garish, cartoonish, cutesy holiday pattern, but one too many pasty, white British politicians have worn that kind of thing for it ever to recover it the style stakes.
Oh, and always ensure there's what I like to describe as a man's "modesty net". Keep the colours simple, keep the cut narrow and you can't go too far wrong.
Unless you're in a hut. In Devon. Drunk on rum. At which point the best advise I can give you is shout "SHARK!" and leg it for the sea. And stay submerged until sundown.
Shop the latest range of Vacay swim shorts here