So You Wanna Wear Speedos
Or maybe you’re considering wearing speedos. Maybe you just spent some time browsing the swimsuit section at Target and settled on the least bro-y of a bunch of bro-y options. Maybe you’ve been wearing speedos for years and are embarrassed to do so in public? These are just a few of the infinite possibilities! The only thing that matters from this point forward is your interest and readiness to read me write about speedos a bunch. I wear speedos. I love it. You can love it too, so here’s my guide to loving it. See below? I’m loving it!
I think a lot of guys can love speedos, but there are a lot of barriers that American culture has been built up around men (and women too, for damn sure!) when it comes to finding things to wear in water-based hang-out situations. Men have to cover their legs, women have to show their legs. To mess with that — for a man to show off and a woman to cover up — messes with our very important gender laws! Who cares if you’re comfortable? These are the rules in place because we don’t know why (actually, patriarchy).
Summer’s here. Beaches are open. Pools are pooling. I want to let male-identifying individuals know that you can wear whatever you want. If you want to wear below-the-knee boardshorts, you’re in luck; those are prevalent. You can buy them anywhere. You’re doing what America thinks all men want to do — and I’m not sarcastic when I say you do you! Seriously; the whole point of wearing speedos is doing what you want to do, and it’s hypocritical to pass judgment on dudes wearing what they want to wear! So we’re cool! But if you’re still reading this…you’re kinda interested? Okay. Let’s do this.
Okay, I feel like if I’m writing a how-to-wear-speedos post, I gotta give a little bit of my cred. I grew up around water. My family spent summers on the river, and then we spent summers at the pool in our backyard. The first 21 summers of my life were spent aqua-adjacent. Being from Tennessee and being a guy, that meant I wore trunks. Long trunks. I knew no other way. I wanted to try wearing speedos and, eventually, I would — in secret. In secret! Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Secret Clothes that have to be worn in public? I eventually had enough of that, said (or rather, wrote) screw it, and now I own zero trunks. I’m a speedo guy. In the vast expanses of the universe, compared to the numerous heavy trials of life, isn’t this insignificant? Why did it feel like such a big deal? Thanks, society!
If “because they make me feel good as hell” isn’t good enough, I will break down some other reasons that have ensured I will never go back to trunks.
- No yards of clingy wet fabric. The first time you wear trunks after switching to speedos, you will shiver. In addition to having wet legs, you have wet fabric — and let’s face it, a yard or more of fabric — clinging to everything. Speedos obviously keep your thighs out in the open, allowing the sun to do its sun-job of drying you off.
- They dry faster. This is especially true of all-nylon speedos, but pretty much all of them will completely dry out while you’re wearing them in the sun. You will be able to slip shorts on over them and go home — no need to chuck a ball of wet trunks into a Walmart bag!
- Endless options. This is the real winner, for me. You’ll see later on, but there are so many companies that make swim briefs besides Speedo (which has become a genericized trademark like kleenex and xerox and jacuzzi — it’s a whole other issue. I tend to say “swim brief” a lot because I can be a real particular dude, but “speedo” is the term everyone uses for everything; I capitalize it when I mean the brand). You can get so many different styles — even ones covered with Tom Selleck’s face (yes, I own a pair).
- Probably good tanlines, if you care? This isn’t a reason for me, but I can see how it’d be a bonus!
- It might fit your body type. This ties in heavily with the next section, so I tread lightly here! I’m 5′6″ and I tend to weigh between 170 and 180 lbs. I’m stocky-ish, and I definitely have short legs (Levi’s will never make a 33x28 jean!). Wearing shorts that go below my knee make me look even shorter. Even setting my personal preference aside, the shorter the suit, the longer my legs look. Like seriously — look up at that picture above “The Reasons.” That’s why I wear short swimsuits. Hello, fellas! (and yes, I’m gay, and straight guys reading this, I’m going to address why that doesn’t matter).
- The time is right. I mean, I don’t know if it’s really right — fashion’s fickle! And there are 402K results if you type “are speedos in style” into Google. No one knows. Everyone’s always debating. The time is right because you only live once, and life is too short to let stupid cultural shame-hangups dictate your choices — especially for something as inconsequential as swimwear! Live yo’ life!
Repeat after me: There are no rules. There. Are. No Rules. There are articles and op-eds that will tell you there are rules. There’s a Wiki How about “looking good in a speedo” with plenty of rules — and two of them are damaging. Sure, eating well and exercising are things you can do to feel good — but they have nothing to do with wearing a speedo. Neither does getting a tan, that’s the real head-scratcher in that Wiki How. There are a lot of pro-speedo articles online and speedo-supporting opinions out there that contain the phrase “If you’ve got the body, go for it.” Nope! If you’ve got a body, you can wear a speedo. It’s your body, it’s your choice. Like I said in the previous section, I believe speedos to be a match for my body type, but that’s mostly because I like the way I look in them; by that logic, they’re also really a match for all body types. Do not let “rules” about being fit, tan or hairless — which are based in toxic body shame — mess with your noggin.
If you decide to give speedos a go, here’s where it gets frustrating. It is way easier to find a large variety of female superhero action figures in a retail store than it is to find even a mediocre assortment of speedos. If you want to go speedo shopping IRL, you’re gonna wanna go to:
- A sporting goods store. Modell’s and Sports Authority will have basic Speedo-brand Speedos — two colors (solid black and solid navy) in two styles (3″ and 5″ sides). Basics.
- Discount retailers. Century 21, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Macy’s Backstage — all those places might have some, in addition to crazy tin animal sculptures and cozy cozy pillows.
- Department stores. Oh man, maybe. Probably not. Macy’s will have some square cut Speedo-brand suits, bigger department stores in cities might even venture into 2(X)IST territory. Maybe?
- LGBT stores. Yes, it’s no surprise that you will find a wide variety here!
- Designer stores. Some designers brands (like Parke & Ronen) have retail locations. You will be able to buy speedos at these locations — and you might even be allowed to try them on in the store (over clothing, duh, because, yikes otherwise).
Your best bet is going to be online. Even the namesake of the cut, Speedo, has bold and crazy styles available online that you might never be able to track down in a store — and that’s Speedo. They’re the king of swim briefs! While you won’t be able to try on the suit if you shop online, you can still get plenty of information about the suit before you purchase. And in my experience, fit seems to stay consistent from brand to brand; if you’re a medium, you’re a medium. And speedos are made to stretch and also made to be tight (but like, comfortable), so order your pants waist-size or a step down and you’ll probably be golden. But not like golden golden; remember, you only have to tan if you want to!
In addition to brand websites, which are listed below, I suggest Swim Outlet; they carry a lot of brands at cheaper prices and tend to have suits that have been discontinued. Amazon tends to have a decent selection as well, although surprisingly not as varied as Swim Outlet.
Behold — the options!
- Square Cuts. Generally 5″ sides or more — like the suit I’m growling in above right. Here’s some Real Talk: a lot of square cuts have front seams down the center. Those seams can easily create — gettin’ honest, but you guys deserve to know the truth — moose knuckle action if you aren’t careful. Yep, I went there, used the ol’ M.K. phrase! Honestly, this is why even though these suits cover more, I feel way more modest in…
- Briefs. Your baseline speedo. Full seat, mid-rise waist, generally 3″ sides. The linchpin of this whole post. These give you coverage and support and are ready to be deployed at any way relaxed event.
- Bikinis. A little bolder! I’m being so bold, above left. You’re getting into lower-rise waists, 1″-2″ sides — you’re being a bit daring! Still, you’re getting full seat coverage here, but you’re showing a little more leg. The best example of the difference is here: bikini (which I am living in in the pic at the top of this post) vs. brief.
Wear what you think works for you! Wear what you think works for where you’re going! Try out what you wanna try out! Go on an adventure!
And here are all the places that have outfitted me for adventure!
- Speedo. Classic. Traditional and bold, lined with drawstring. Variety of material, usually nylon/spandex/polyester. $40-ish a suit, but can get good sales on Amazon.
- Aussiebum. A little edgier, variety of kooky prints (there’s one that’s covered in ’90s style superheroes!) and styles (there’s one that ties on the side — which I am just not ready for!). The suits are mostly all nylon so they’re thinner. Lined with drawstring. Ships from Australia, so takes a little while. $20-$30 a suit.
- Sluggers. Again from Australia (they love speedos!). Similar to Aussiebum, but sturdier material and smaller selection. The tag on these suits reads “be awesome,” which is great. $45-ish a suit.
- Parke & Ronen. Designer. Luxurious. You know this because there’s a teeny metal tag on the hip. I have a square cut from them — it has a stupid little pocket on the hip that I love. Fully lined with drawstring. $110-ish a suit and I paid full price — a salesperson did their job well.
- TYR. I only have one suit, but it’s a softer poly/spandex blend. Caters more towards swimmers, like Speedo, but a little cheaper. $35-ish a suit.
- Timoteo. Nylon/spandex, lined with thick drawstrings. The material feels thicker than other suits, but it’s lower cut and has a slightly-less-than-full seat. For the daring (which is me, sometimes!). $50-ish a suit.
- Manus. Stylish prints (anchors! polka dots!), lined, no drawstring (surprise!). Might share your pic on Instagram if you tag them (I learned this). $25-ish a suit.
- Lockwood51. These are technically sungas, which are between a brief and a square cut. They’re fuller than other suits, lined with drawstring, and I think are made to order? Their tags say “Stay Queer As Fuck” so, that’s what you’re getting here! $45 a suit.
- Mr. Turk. Another designer brand that I got on sale sale sale. Square cuts and speedos. Way more vibrant patterns and colors; the drawstrings come with metal ends — feel the luxury! $90-ish a suit (I paid a third of that — thanks Century 21!)
- Splish. Imagine if your aunt’s weird MS Paint Facebook memes were speedos. These suits are fine suits, and they come in clip-art-ridiculous patterns, and you can design your own through them (using clip art). The two I have from them are basic stripe patterns. $35-ish a suit.
- Aronik. Designer. Luxurious. You know this because there’s a teeny metal tag on the hip. Lined with drawstring. Thicker material, too, and simpler patterns in bold colors. You could also end up #AronikMate of the day if you tag’em on Instagram (fame!). $90-ish a suit — I swear, I got mine on deep discount.
I’ll also urge everyone to keep my “The Rules” in mind while shopping for suits. Unfortunately swimwear models still look like swimwear models, but we can all change the default perception of “attractiveness” if we all rise up and clad our diverse bodies in cool looking speedos.
Gay men wear speedos. Straight men wear speedos. People of all orientations and gender identities wear speedos. Swimsuits have no strict correlation with sexual orientation. They’re pieces of clothing. That cover it? Cool. Moving on.
When I started wearing speedos, it was in secret. It was at the gym, it was at the beach alone. I was honestly worried that my friends would be weirded out by a clothing choice I made. In retrospect — what? This worry is valid, I get it, but your friends will most likely surprise you. And strangers will probably surprise you by how little they care. I’ve worn speedos at gay beaches, gyms and hotel pools — where the broiest of business bros were chugging beers in the shallow end — and no one has said anything to me. My friends have complimented me. Things are dope!
If this post nudged you towards trying speedos and you wanna give a go but also feel nervous about it, I feel you. On the one hand, who cares about swimsuits? On the other hand, there are so many unspoken rules about swimsuits! Here’s how you can take’em for a test run.
- Go it alone. Go on a solo beach trip, maybe early in the morning, either to a place you know will be less-crowded or where you won’t know anyone. Anonymity helps when you’re trying something new. For an added confidence boost, go to the LGBT section of the beach (which you can usually find through Googling “gay beaches”). You will not be the only person in a speedo.
- Do some laps. Swimming laps for exercise is a great, quick way to experience the difference between trunks and speedos. Plus, speedos were designed for this purpose; wearing one to exercise in should turn no heads. Also, because all the heads are underwater focusing on their own thang.
- Wear sunglasses. Obviously, you’re most likely outside at the beach or pool. But from my experience, sunglasses add in a level of distance from others. It’s easy to think of them as a mask, or a buffer zone, or your own private chill-out room, even if you’re in the midst of a crowded beach.
This whole post is about breaking down any walls that you feel have been put up around your options. This whole post is about exploring all the options available in life and finding what works for you. This whole post is about trying your hardest to love and feel fine in your body. This whole post is about being comfortable. This whole post is about not accepting what culture tells you you should wear. If you want to try speedos, try speedos. If you want to wear speedos, wear speedos. Doing what you want to do feels strong — and that comes across when you’re presenting yourself how you want to present yourself. Be excellent.
Because honestly, and this is crazy considering how much I’ve just written about it, it’s just a swimsuit. Go for it.
Here are the suits I was proud to wear in this post’s photos
- Intro: Aronik, Sugarhouse Baie Bikini
- My History: Gross purple plaid trunks, probably from Walmart
- The Reasons: Parke & Ronen, Clipper Printed Ibiza Square Cut Brief in Orange Aqua
- The Rules: Speedo, Poly Gone Brief
- The Shopping: Speedo, TURNZ Printed Brief and Aussiebum, Vintage Stripes Gable
- The Cuts: Aussiebum, Classic 1.5 and Aussiebum, Handlebar Botany
- The Brands: Manus, Anchor Print Swim Brief
- The Gays: Splish, Rainbow Brief
- The Reactions: Speedo, Conquers All Brief
- The Confidence: Speedo, Pulse Brief