Best Swimsuits - Page 12
le.gentleman's guide to swimwear is fairly amazing. When I lived in Portland, Oregon, the bus to work went by the old Jantzen plant. It's a mystery how such a (literally) cool and remote city was home to such a successful swimwear business.
I live in Florida, am over 60, prefer to wear some kind of cover (rashguard, whatever) to reduce sun exposure and to hide a droopy stomach with a few scars. I've lost a lot of weight over the past year, so have been going through board shorts at a feverish pace. A few observations:
First, on local beaches, male clothing is overwhelmingly board shorts (or something similar from Target or Walmart). Speedos are rare, mostly seen on European visitors, sometimes pudgy ones.
After years of being away from pool swimsuits, I've begun to like TYR and others for briefs (can be useful under board shorts or under a wetsuit). This photo, taken at a bodysurfing contest where many competitors were lifeguards (and goofy clothing was encouraged), Jammers are very good for under wetsuits and need to be considered for swimming in the ocean. The guy with the red shirt gives an idea. The one in front is wearing lifeguard-red DaFins, so despite whatever lack of fashion, I bet he keeps people from drowning. He's walking backwards into the water, a standard modus operandi with fins. The guy in red is high-stepping, an alternative. On the left, the black fin with a yellow spot being carried into deeper water (yet another way to get in) is a Viper, another brand popular with lifeguards and, of course, bodysurfers.
The major surf brands have good board shorts. Hurley, Billabong, Rip Curl, and O'Neill are offering lightweight stretch fabric with minimal seams (which are often welded rather than sewn) in an effort to reduce weight and eliminate chafing, which used to be a terrible problem for surfers. They are also water repellant, drying out extremely fast. Patagonia is going in the same direction, with their most expensive shorts (Houdini) half the weight of older equivalents, about 3.5 ounces. Patagonia sells shorts that are intended for swimming/bodysurfing (they sponsored a bodysurfing movie, "Come Hell or High Water"). Quiksilver has been a bit different, working with "dobby" fabric with little bumps to minimize contact with skin. Volcom doesn't seem to be in the technology race, but is popular with surfers, along with RCVA.
For board short length, the Swell site (owned, I think, by Billabong) has a useful screen for out seam length. 20 or 21 inches is standard, and they sell shorts down to about 16 inches.
Among the smaller companies with good shorts:
• Lost sells surfboards and owns surf shops, so has surfboard-related clothing with "resin" splotches.
• Katin is a bit erratic in that many of their made-in-USA shorts lack the elastic loops in their pockets that are useful for holding car keys. They also sometimes use cotton, which takes longer to dry.
• Toes on the Nose has some lightweight shorts that aren't as long as most.
• Ambsn has nice made-in-USA shorts, without those useful elastic loops. Currently, most board shorts are polyester. A nylon pair from Tavik is a likable contrast.
• Greenlines is a small outfit from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey (near Sandy Hook). Their shorts are classic Californian with simple design. There's no technological innovations, but the shorts are well sewn with sturdy flat seams. A local surf shop is selling them. My pair is "fabrique en PRC", which must mean China in mixed languages.
• For strictly local, Balsa Bill of Satellite Beach will happily sell you made-in-Florida board shorts, not to mention a balsa wood surfboard or ukelele. I'm sure there's others like him around the coasts.
On the resortwear side, Honolua (from Hawaii) sells real, baggy stretch board shorts while Strong Boalt (from Palm Beach) has some beautiful prints, but the clothing is more suited to pool parties. Here's a Strong Boalt:
And here a technologically advanced Hurley with welded seams and a pocket that could be from the latest Star Trek movie:
The stripes have been typical for Hurley (part of Nike). They serve to make their shorts distinctive at surfing contests.
I have a couple of pairs of Onia shorts (Amaury) model, sold at a big discount by one of the online sale sites. They're well-fitting nylon, but the construction is clueless about the features that make shorts-for-surfers comfortable when in the water for hours. They're fine for a walk on the beach or a quick swim. The brand is from Israel, made in Vietnam:
Surf Expo in Orlando in January will showcase goods for the upcoming summer.
Finally, a reminder that shorts/trunks/bottoms aren't all. Here's a surfer walking into the wind. The shorts have a pattern like one of Hurley's most expensive. The wetsuit jacket has the logo of West, from a suburb of Perth in Western Australia. The region is known for cold water, big waves and sharks. West is known for quality and price. Pullover jackets like this come in various thicknesses, from 2 mm to 0.5 mm, and can be great for a walk on the beach in cool/wet weather.
For online bargains, Swell has been useful, Nordstrom and Macy's occasionally, 6pm often. Swim Outlet also sells surf stuff.