4Men - Style

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The Late Great Speedo Debate

With the South African summer almost here and Cape Town's beach cafe's, bars and pubs packed to the brim most afternoons and early evenings already, it’s time to start thinking about your beachwear.

Needless to say, your stand on the age-old Speedo will come up again as you shop for new trunks. If you’re part of the Olympic swimming team, this article’s not for you. We understand that going Speedo for competitive swimmers is a choice driven by performance.

However, the average South African man is conditioned to fear those itty-bitty pieces of spandex that fit snugly against his jewels and leave nothing to the imagination. However, European and South American men have long embraced the many variations of the Speedo (high rise, thongs -- we’ll spare you on the different styles). Do they really have bigger balls than us?

The argument for Speedos

It may be hard to believe that in some countries Speedos do not suggest a social stigma, nor are they seen as being related to one’s sexual orientation. It may be even harder to believe that, in these same countries, sporting your classic board shorts would be considered a tasteless choice. If you plan on vacationing in the Mediterranean or South America, Speedos are de rigueur. We always praise dressing for the occasion, and in this case, the location is key. It appears that the Speedo, in its proper geographical context, leaves little room for questioning.

Exactly what is it that makes the Speedo such a desirable swimwear option for guys in other countries? You might be surprised:

Speedos allow for a greater range of motion: Swimmers credit the Speedo for allowing greater movement in the water versus carrying the additional weight of a bulky trunk.

Speedos offer a better tan line: A farmer’s tan on your legs is not the hottest look. Trunks that fall past the knee create awkward tan lines and do not allow for full tanning coverage.

Speedos dry faster: Speedos dry much faster than trunks because they use less fabric and are often made of quick-drying nylon.

The argument against Speedos

There’s an unfortunate relationship between the size of a man -- his waist, that is -- and the size of his swimwear. If you’re packing some extra weight in the stomach or thighs, or if you generally have a larger frame, avoid the Speedo at all costs. Even if you have all the self-confidence in the world, have a little consideration for the people around you. There’s always some shmuck who looks past his body type and embraces the Speedo -- this can ruin a day at the beach for everyone. In addition to its unflattering fit on most guys, other reasons to pass on the Speedo include:

Speedos leave little to the imagination: We really don't always want to see another man’s package on display.

Speedos are not comfortable: Choosing between spandex fitting tightly around your prized possessions or a looser short with breathing room is a no-brainer. When it comes to matters of comfort, the Speedo doesn’t measure up.

What we recommend

Unfortunately he age-old debate on Speedos has become somewhat passé, as there are now a variety of styles in skimpy men’s swimwear. We recommend a swim trunk with a mid-thigh length in a quick-drying nylon. Generally, keep the colours low-key and the print, if any, minimal. This universally accepted option strikes a good balance between what is flattering and what is functional.


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