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My Favorite Summer Outfit Includes This Affordable Menswear Staple

All you need is a pair of scissors.

Hannah Baxter
Hannah Baxter wearing leopard swim trunks outfit

While I’m just as excited as the next New Yorker when summer finally graces us with her presence, I’m also acutely aware that for the better part of June, July, and August, the temperatures will be only slightly less than scorching. That means that although I’d love to trot around the city in my cute new maxi knit dress or high-waisted denim cutoffs, most of the time I’m more concerned with not sweating through the fabric while waiting for the G train rather than looking cute 100% of the time. But that doesn’t mean I want to forfeit my sartorial senses altogether — on the contrary, it’s forced me to get more creative with my warm-weather wardrobe in order to stay comfortable. And over the last 12 months I discovered what might be my most ingenious addition to my collection of summer staples: men’s swim trunks.

Hear me out on this. Longline shorts are having a moment, with every brand from Khaite and Proenza Schouler to Tibi and Peter Do debuting some variation for the spring and summer. These styles, in linen, denim, leather, and more, are all fabulous and deserve a slot in your closet (if you can afford them) but I hesitate to invest in pieces that might fall out of style in a handful of seasons (case in point: the return of low-rise denim). Instead, I’m after a low-stakes addition to my outfit lineup, and I found it in the men’s swim section.

I’m already a frequent visitor of the men’s side of the store, whether I’m shopping vintage or ready-to-wear, and once you know your measurements — particularly your waist and inseam — you might find that selecting styles that fit you isn’t all that difficult compared to women’s clothes. But men’s swim trunks (like women’s swimwear) also tend to have a plethora of printed options that can make ardent Christopher John Rogers and Dries Van Noten fans squeal with delight, and for a fraction of the cost. So if you’re curious to try that outrageous neon or floral trend, a swim short might be the ideal way to begin without making a huge investment on your part.

Additionally, the majority of swim trunks have an elastic waist, which is ideal for women who want to wear either a high-waisted style that you can still breathe in, or a low-slung fit that doesn’t cut into your hips, and a roomier leg, which is much more comfortable when you’re walking around on a slab of concrete in boiling temperatures. All you need to do is turn the shorts inside out, take a pair of scissors to the mesh liner, and voila, a breezy pair of longline shorts that likely cost less than your Friday night drinks out with friends. I wear my favorite styles with everything from a vintage t-shirt to a crop top, plus either a chunky sandal or a pair of sneakers (and oodles of gold jewelry).

So if you’re on the hunt for a summer outfit that you haven’t already seen plastered all over social media, might I suggest you take a stroll (virtual or otherwise) through the men’s section of your favorite swimsuit retailer. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

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Funky Prints

This is a perfect opportunity to play with prints in your summer wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to snag a few styles that allow you to experiment with unexpected patterns and color combinations.

Bold Solids

Your collection of white t-shirts and tank tops could use a bright, colorful bottom to add a bit of summer intrigue. Add mules for an elevated kick.

Classic Neutrals

You can never have too many basic bottoms for summer, and men’s swim trunks offer plenty of options for a range of style sensibilities. I like styling mine with a bright Hawaiian shirt and chunky chain necklaces.