It's February, which means fashion's topsy-turvy retailing machine is delivering swimwear to stores. Women usually learn, at an early age, how to shop ahead of season; but for some mysterious reason, most guys do not. This wasn't always the case: in the early 20th century, stylish men (including college-aged boys) visited their tailors punctually and relied on local haberdashers or popular mail-order catalogs for sportswear and accessories. These days, however, the average male is likely to wait until last-minute house party invitations drive him into a department store in late July–at which point the best swimsuits will be gone, replaced by row after row of cashmere topcoats.
Part of learning to speak fashion fluently is becoming aware of this cycle, and exploiting it to advantage. If you're a true fashion junkie who has to have the latest model, hit stores early in the season (and develop relationships with salespeople who will call when coveted items are in their hands). If you care more about price than design, you can get along nicely with brands that specialize in basics. And online shopping offers the full gamut, from pre-ordering just-off-the-runway must-haves to great end-of-season sales.
Of course, buying swimwear is tricky, for obvious reasons: it leaves us mostly unclothed. Finding flattering options drives some guys to despair, especially when confronted with buff models like Ellis, above. FA2L's advice? Extra pounds are less noticeable in something hip-slung: wearing elastic at your natural waist only draws attention to the flabbiness of a spare tire. And while American men typically avoid tight bikinis (usually with good reason), a certain type of square-cut trunk, the Brazilian sunga, shouldn't be ruled out. Kyle King's versions (the first three, above) have full seats and enough fabric to drape, rather than bind, across the hips. (King's online shop will be up and running in March.) If you prefer something less daring, please avoid baggy jams (ubiquitous on American beaches for years) and remember that even out-of-shape men often have surprisingly good legs. Channel your inner lifeguard in Miguel Antoinne's slightly retro shorts, above, which are polite but still sexy. Then watch the mercury rise.
1: Swimsuit by Kyle King. Leather & gold necklace (as bracelet) by H. Stern. 2: Swimsuit by Kyle King. Sandals by Hermès. 3: Swimsuit by Kyle King. Sandals by DSquared. Beach towel by Hermès. 4: Shorts by Miguel Antoinne. Sunglasses by Ray-Ban. Sandals by DSquared. Leather & gold necklace by H. Stern.
Photographs by Michael Stratton. Grooming by Lorenzo Martone/Link NYLA. Ellis McCreadie/Major Models. Styled by Mark Grischke. © Fashion As a 2nd Language.