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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Surfing the Fashion Wave

With so many different brands, styles, and designs of beachwear, the options are endless. While most think of the beach when considering surfer fashion, the beach-bum qualities that make the look can be part of all aspects of your wardrobe and lifestyle. 

Surfing gear for in the water should allow you to stay comfortable, warm, and rash-free. While out of the water, you should express a relaxed, chic, and bohemian style. 

Water Attire

The original men’s swimwear, swim trunks are still the most common men’s swimwear in North America. Since the 1930s, swim trunks began showing up on their own, without the top portion of a bathing suit. They're more likely to be shorter than board shorts, looser, and made from nylon, cotton, or polyester. They may be clingier than a board short, depending on the type and cut of the short. Usually, swim trunks are more water absorbent, sport an elastic waistband, and may or may not have a lace-up fly.

Because of the elastic band and the targeted demographic of adult, middle-aged and older men, swim trunks might be more comfortable and practical for your unique needs. You also may not be a fan of the length of board shorts, or where they sit on the hip (a bit lower because the hips hold them up; there is no elastic).

Board Shorts

Board shorts are a newer subset of men's swimwear that arose from the rising surf culture. Their name reflects their practical use for surfing, even referencing the surfboard. They're very quick to dry and don't get too baggy from holding excess water, due their polyester or nylon material. Usually longer than swim trunks, hitting just at the knee, a little above or a little below, they are very durable despite being lightweight. Board shorts typically have a lace-up fly in addition to a Velcro fly under that. In many cases, they have at least one side pocket.

Board shorts have a more youthful, sportier look and feel, and have become more popular in the current culture. Most designers and clothing companies create board shorts, as opposed to swim trunks, so the designs and patterns are more stylistically relevant. When buying surf shorts, whether board shorts or swim trunks, the most important features to consider are quick-drying, lightweight, durability, staying on the waist, pockets, and desired length.

Many female surfers have also taken to wearing board shorts. Typically shorter than their male counterparts, female board shorts provide more comfort and less likelihood of losing your bottoms after a gnarly wipeout. Like bikini bottoms, the mix-and-match appeals to ladies, as you can choose to pair a different top with different bottoms. 


The bikinis you wear to the pool or laze in on the beach are very different from your surf bikini. A surf bikini must be more practical, should look for full coverage, and consider other big factors like sun exposure and fitting under a wetsuit or board shorts.
Women's Surfer Tops

Surfer bikini tops should fit comfortably and cover your chest fully. Water will move the top around, and the last thing you want is to fall out or need to adjust when riding a wave. The best option is either a sports bra style or triangle cut top. Avoid underwires, as, when you are paddling, they can poke and prod you. The straps should be fitted enough that they will not slide down your shoulders at all. 

For bikini bottoms that you wear under board shorts or a wetsuit, consider a skimpier pair, even if you would never wear one like that on the beach, Anything with more fabric than a G-string or Brazilian cut will result in incredibly uncomfortable rolls of fabric that you will not be able to stop tugging at. You will be infinitely more comfortable if you consider wearing bottoms under the board shorts to prevent chafing or a rash. 

When you want to surf in a bikini bottom, rather than shorts, there are a few things to consider. If you are surfing during the day, you have to do the sunscreen versus coverage debate. A small surf bikini bottom means you must use sunscreen or risk being burnt and have the possibility of skin cancer. A problem with sunscreen and surfing is that when you sit on your board to watch for waves, you will rub a nice little layer of sunscreen all over. This can lead to a slippery board, and a much more difficult time getting up on the wave. 

Rash Guards

The most important factor for any surf attire is surf safety. Rash guards are one form to practice surf safety, as they protect the wearer against rashes caused by abrasion, or by sunburn from extended exposure to the sun. Typically, rash guards are worn by themselves over tops, or under a wetsuit. However, there are also lower body rash guards that look similar to compression shorts, which can be worn under surfers’ boardshorts or swim trunks. 

Typically worn when the weather is too warm for a wetsuit, "rashies" also prevent wax-based chafing when sliding on and off of the surfboard. Rash guards can offer slight protection from jellyfish stings, making them a great addition, due to the many dangers found while surfing. 

Land Attire
Beach Socks

To create the ultimate surfer persona, there are a few lessons and tips to consider:

  1. Layer-Up. Throughout the day, your body temperature will fluctuate due to the water temperature, air temperature, chill factor, and wetness. Consider layering tanks and tees under hoodies and flannels.
  2. Mix and Match. Don’t be too worried about matching every color; instead consider a couple of different colors and shades, while keeping the same undertones.
  3. Casual and Cool. Keep the comfortable vibe throughout, with baggier fitted attire and easy to slide-on shoes, such as sandals or surfers.
  4. Standout Socks. Every surfer needs a pair of funky patterned socks to add a bit of an extra flair for the relaxed and carefree style.
  5. Accessorize. Consider adding some cool shades, a chic beanie or hat, and other accessories to complete the ultimate cool dude look. 

Ladies have a multitude of options to wear on the boardwalk, at the beach, or just casually strolling through town. Here are a few ideas to create the ultra-bohemian style surfer girl look: 
  1. Patterns. Consider a patterned dress or romper to slide over your bikini post surf session for an easy, classic look.
  2. Graphic Tees and Tanks. The slogan tee or free flowing tank should be a part of any beach babe collection to make a splashy statement.
  3. Sexy Shorts. Most places won’t allow you to wear your bikini bottoms without something covering them up, so consider sexy patterned short shorts or the cute crochet short to cover up.
  4. Eye-Catching Cover-ups. Cover-ups can be another quick and easy fix to throw on over any swimsuit for a quick run to the snack shack or to avoid the glaring rays of the sun.
  5. Sunglasses. From aviators to sporty to oversized, don’t leave home without a pair of fashionable sunglasses to protect your eyes. 
This surf fashion article was written exclusively for Apparel Search by Ron at Surf Outfitter.  At Surf Outfitter, you will find apparel, equipment and accessories that cater to and represent the surf and waterman lifestyle. They offer products such as swimwear, boardshorts, bikinis, sandals, sunglasses, tees and shorts, paddleboards, surfboards and accessories. Their goal is not to have the largest selection of products, but the best selection of the best products. In order to achieve this goal, every product available at Surf Outfitter has been hand selected by their talented staff.  Although very time consuming, this process is the only way they can ensure that the products they offer are a genuine representation of the surf and waterman lifestyle.

Thank you for taking the time to read this surf fashion blog post.  

If you are interested in further reading, you can also visit our new board shorts page to learn more about this type of swimwear product.

If you have comments or questions, please add your thoughts in the discussion area below.

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