The History of Male Swimwear: From Speedos to Swim Shorts

People all over the world have always felt a close connection with water. We’ve loved the beach and pools almost since time began. That means we’ve also seen a huge evolution in swimwear over the decades. 

With Instagram influencers responsible for showcasing some of the more outrageous fashion choices in women’s swimwear these days, we don’t often hear about how men’s swimwear has evolved over the years. 

From one-piece bodysuits to speedos to modern style swim shorts, let’s take a look back through time. 

The One-piece For Men

What’s the oldest style of swimwear you can think of? For many people, they think of classic budgie smugglers as an ‘old’ type of swimwear, but the history goes back well before Speedo launched their famous products. 

Up until the 1920s, it was common for men to be completely covered when swimming. Yep. Full-length leg coverings too. 

In some parts of the world this was actually the law. After the 1920s, men still had restrictions over what was decent, however they were allowed to expose their legs below the knee. 

This led to the popular fashion of the one-piece short-sleeved bodysuit. Often designed with horizontal stripes, these were the staple of male swimmers for years. 

The Speedo

We affectionally know them as budgie smugglers, and by the 1960s, attitudes towards people covering up when in the water had changed dramatically. 

This led to the creation of the Speedo brand. Initially, these were designed for competitive swimmers and weren’t intended for public use, but society soon adopted them as the norm. Most of us remember days of school swimming lessons and carnivals where we had to walk around in front of our classmates wearing budgie smugglers whether we liked it or not. 

They’re still worn today, in various forms, even if they’re not everybody’s favourite fashion choice anymore. 

Swim Shorts

Then, we come to swim shorts. The first wave of swim shorts were, to say the least, not functional. In fact, they weren’t much different than normal, everyday shorts, if not a little bit shorter. 

They didn’t dry well, which is why so many people stuck with the Speedos. It wasn’t until surf culture broken into the world that we started seeing shorts that were lightweight and made from fast-drying material. 

Since then, swim shorts have been the most common form of male swimwear, even if lengths have changed over the years. 

We’ve seen extra-long board shorts in the 90s, then we had extra-short ones, but for now, the style seems to be quite settled on a mid-length design. 

It also helps that innovations such as mesh briefs have come into play, meaning swim shorts are more supportive and dry faster than ever before. 

Check Out Our Range Of Swim Shorts Today

If you’re well and truly ready to move on from the old style of Speedos and move into the modern world of fashionable, comfortable swim shorts, look no further. 

We use 100% recycled polyester for our swim shorts, making them sustainable without sacrificing comfort or style. Shop now, and get ready to hit the beach with ORTC.

October 20, 2022