What Are Boardshorts & How to Wear Them?


Nowadays boardshorts are gracing the bodies of former presidents, models, and celebrities alike. Now a popular fashion statement, and West Coast staple, you may want to consider adding a pair of boardshorts to your wardrobe. Let’s answer the question ‘what are boardshorts?’, and explore how to wear them properly to avoid fashion faux pas and accidental exposure!

What are Boardshorts Used For?

The great thing about boardshorts is the variety of activities that they are used for. More than just a swim short, boardshorts have a variety of applications such as:

  • For Surfing: Professional surfers swear by boardshorts, and surfing is the original purpose of boardshorts, with the board in question referring to a surfboard. Preventing chafing is possible through the durable fabric which can handle the rigors of surfing and the comfortable loose long legs of the shorts. TWith ties at the waist, boardshorts are loved by surfers because they reduce the risk of finding yourself suddenly without shorts on after a big wave!
  • For Swimming: Boardshorts are also a great choice for the swimmer or beach-local. Their looser more relaxed fit is much more comfortable for the men who wear them. In regards to women, the androgynous design is perfect for those who shun the feminine bikini and are useful for adding a layer of modesty. Boardshorts are also quick-drying which makes them ideal for going from the surf to the sand and vice versa.
  • For Lifeguarding: Most professional lifeguards don boardshorts because of their durability, comfort, and additional features such as pockets.
  • For Style: From presidents to celebrities, boardshorts are very much in vogue! Coming in a variety of designs, colors, and patterns, boardshorts are the perfect summer fashion statement.

surfers love boardshorts

What is the Difference Between Boardshorts and Swim Shorts?

People often mistake boardshorts and swim shorts thinking that they’re the same as one another, but this isn’t the case. Here are some of the key differences:

  • Length: As boardshorts are designed with action in mind they are typically much longer than swim shorts. Boardshorts tend to stop at the knee or slightly further down.
  • Purpose: Boardshorts are meant to be long-lasting and durable. While they’re definitely stylish, they’re also practical. Swim shorts are usually less long-lasting and their design is with fashion in mind instead.
  • Waistband: This is one of the defining features of boardshorts. Traditional boardshorts tie at the waist to ensure they will not slip down when a person is surfing. Swim shorts have elasticated waistbands, and those with drawstrings tend to be decorative over functional.
  • Mesh Lining: Swim shorts use a mesh lining to preserve the modesty of their wearers. Because of the different cut, boardshorts don’t need a mesh lining.
  • Style: Swim shorts cover a variety of different styles and designs. Boardshorts tend to have a surfer style, due to their practical applications, but still come in a pleasing range of colors and patterns.
boardshorts vs swimming trunks
Boardshorts and Swimwear

How to Wear Board Shorts?

There are some unspoken rules when it comes to wearing boardshorts. Being aware of these will help you avoid a fashion faux pas when donning your shorts!

  1. Go Commando!
    Aside from some women’s boardshorts, the perfect way to wear boardshorts is sans underwear! If the band of your boxers peeps over the waist of the boardshorts like a diaper you’ll surely be the butt of many peoples‘ jokes. If you can’t stomach going commando, then invest in some speedos!
  2. Switch at Sunset
    Boardshorts are commonly constructed from slightly stiffer fabric due to their durability. While this is comfy for a few hours at a time, wearing your shorts for over 8 hours can result in rashes. Not mentioning, of course, the hygiene issues which will likely arise from wearing shorts that have gotten wet-and-dry all day! Therefore switch to jeans or fresh shorts when the sun starts to set!
  3. Invest in Hybrid Shorts
    If you don’t want to wear anything else, then choose hybrid boardshorts. Designers create hybrid shorts with softer materials and zippers and pockets meaning they can transform easily from the beach to the streets.
  4. No Elasticated Waistbands!
    True boardshorts don’t have elasticated waistbands. If you’re looking for authenticity, then shunning elasticated waistbands for string ties is essential. 

How to Tie Board Shorts?

Of course, boardshorts are different from the swim shorts you’ve been wearing and need to be tied correctly to prevent unwanted exposure. To safely tie your shorts follow these steps:

  1. Insert the end of the string into each of the bottom openings of the shorts.
  2. Pull the inserted string until it is as tight as possible. At this stage, you need to make sure the strings are an even length.
  3. Next insert the right end of the string into the left hole. For the best results, this needs to be back to front.
  4. Repeat this using the left end of the string into the right-side hole.
  5. Repeat this process for each of the holes in your shorts.
  6. Tie the shorts with a tight knot.

Are there Boardshorts for Women?

Put simply, yes! While boardshorts may appear at first to be solely for men, there are plenty of great options for women to wear. Aside from surfing, many women love boardshorts because of the convenience of their quick-drying material, meaning they don’t need to change clothes on the beach.

Boardshorts also appeal to tomboys due to their less form-fitting design. As they cover more skin boardshorts are also perfect for women who don’t feel comfortable in a traditional bikini, or who have beliefs surrounding modesty.

Both men and women also speak of the benefits of boardshorts for hiking and running, as the material easily absorbs sweat and the loose fit provides greater comfort when exercising. 

What Are Boardshorts? Diverse and Fashionable!

When answering the question about boardshorts, the fact of the matter is they’re pretty much whatever you want them to be! From fashion statements to practical surf and activewear, boardshorts are the comfortable and stylish clothing item your wardrobe needs!

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