My 14-year-old son recently posed an interesting question to me: “Can you find me a pair of swim trunks that are just a solid color?”
While I purchased the majority of my kids’ clothing without their input when they were younger, once they hit their teen years, we developed a rule of sorts that I would not purchase clothes for them unless they approved. For whatever reason, my youngest son has decided he is done with vibrant, wild, or exciting-looking swimwear.
I told him this was kind of a tall order. “Have you really looked at the styles of men’s swimwear in the stores? The vast majority of it falls into one of three categories: Tropical, nautical, or striped.”
I went to the closet and pulled out some of the trunks currently owned by the men in our household. Sure enough:
Striped. (Technically plaid, but plaid patterns are constructed of stripes.)
Nautical. (And also striped!) I’m telling you, nearly all men’s designs out there fall into one of these these top-three swim trunk looks — and many are both tropical and nautical. Or nautical and striped.
I typically buy swimwear at the end of one season for the following season when swimwear goes on clearance. We spend a lot of time at the pool and beaches during the summer, so I try to have at least one or two suits in the house for everyone on hand. Last year, my son had picked out this pair of swim trunks for this 2021 swim season:
I said “You picked these out. What’s wrong with them now?” He said “I was already trying to find a solid color pair last year, and from the front, these were pretty close. But the back side…”
Well, once again, my observation holds true here — the back of these trunks are both tropical and striped. I said “But these trunks are kind of the best of both worlds, aren’t they? They are the mullet of swimwear: Business in the front, party in the back!”
He agreed that these trunks would be “okay” for this season but said “If you see any solid-color trunks, could you please pick them up?”
So, I began texting him photos of trunks I saw in the store over various shopping trips this summer:
Walmart has a wide variety of swim trunks, all of which are nautical, striped, striped, striped, nautical, nautical, tropical, tropical/nautical/striped, tropical, nautical/striped, tropical, tropical, nautical, tropical, nautical, nautical… you get the idea.
A family member shared a Sam’s Club trial membership with us last month, so I checked out the Sam’s swim trunks selection. Striped, tropical/striped, striped.
Target’s selection was getting pretty picked over, but what was left? Striped/tropical and striped/nautical.
With each set of photos I texted him, my son was realizing that his mother was right.
We had a Cocoa Beach, Florida trip planned for June, and the chances of finding a solid-colored pair of swim trunks for our vacation seemed unlikely. I promised that if we ever did see a pair that was reasonably priced, I’d get it for him, but his beach days were likely going to be spent in the green tropical/striped pair of trunks he’d previously picked out — along with his other pair of blue-and-white striped / nautical trunks.
Once we got to Florida, our search for solid-color swim trunks continued informally while we souvenir shopped around the area. Here was the selection at one of the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop locations:
It’s all about the tropical look at Ron Jon’s!
By now, the nautical / tropical / striped swim trunk topic had become a running joke. We looked at other people’s swim trunks at the beach and pool, which also fell into these categories about 95% of the time. (The exception we found most often were children’s swim trunks with cartoon or movie characters on them.)
Later in the trip, we stopped at a Walgreens to pick up some drinks and snacks, and because the Walgreens is located in a resort area, it had a large selection of swimwear. Once again, we laughed as we browsed through the swim trunk selection at this Florida Walgreens:
Tropical. Nautical. Striped and camouflage (which perhaps could be a fourth style category, but I’m putting it in with stripes.)
Another rack: Tropical. Nautical. Tropical. And another: Nautical, nautical, striped, tropical, tropical…
And then? By a crazy stroke of luck, on the back of the rack, we found the apparent rare unicorn of men’s swimwear:
They do exist: A solid orange pair of swim trunks! I texted a photo to my son, who immediately said “Yes, please!” For those wondering what a pair of Walgreens swim trunks cost in Central Florida, these were $19.99.
We returned to our hotel, and I proudly presented my son with this bright orange pair. He took them off the hanger, looked at them, and said ‘These are great. But for what it’s worth, they do have stripes on them. There are two stripes down each leg.”
Proving once again, my tropical / nautical / striped theory is largely correct.
For anyone else who also insists on (mostly) solid-color swim trunks, this orange pair is Island Planet brand and are also available online for $19.99.
We had a marvelous time at Cocoa Beach. Even though my son was stuck wearing his mostly-green trunks on this day, he was delighted to find a $5 bill floating in the ocean while playing in the waves. It’s not every day that you get paid to go to the beach!
Now that we’re back home and spending many hot summertime days at the pool, my youngest is happily rocking his new orange swim trunks. (My oldest, thankfully, has not placed similar restrictions on his swim trunk looks. With his polyester allergy, it is already difficult enough to find swim trunks for him that are cotton or nylon and not polyester. Thankfully, he likes tropical things!)
UPDATE: Reader Eric emailed to say that Amazon does have a limited selection of men’s solid-color swim trunks! They’re priced under $20, and they do have a mesh lining as well — something that all the men in my family consider a must. (Have you seen how many board short-style swim trunks now have no liner at all? It’s an issue that perplexes all of the guys in my family, who would much rather have a liner versus going full commando.)
Eric writes “I thought I would share this as I also like solid color trunks that can be worn as shorts. I wear these to Six Flags and Universal when I know I am going to get wet on rides but I don’t want to wear some wild design all day.” Great idea – and thanks for sharing the link. I don’t know why I didn’t think to check Amazon… is there anything Amazon doesn’t sell?!