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Do You Wear Underwear Under Swim Shorts?

It’s summer! It’s the time of long days, unapologetic fun and swimming. Whether you’re a pool guy or enjoying the beach (or anything in between), you might have a few fashion questions about swimwear. It’s good that you’re thinking things through. Strangely, one of the more common questions from a lot of guys is whether or not they should have underwear beneath their swim shorts. We’ll answer this and more.

Just . . . No

If you’re here for a quick answer, you already have it. Underwear with swimming shorts is generally a bad idea. If you want to know why and get deeper into the topic, keep reading.

It’s Bad for Your Underwear

Inevitably, at least one of you guys reading this is out of the loop. You don’t care what your underwear looks like. As long as it can stay on, it’s good enough, right. That’s pretty sad, and someday, we hope you understand why. 

For the rest of you, it’s important to understand that swimming is very hard on your underwear. Sure, a single dip won’t kill it, but if you’re sporting a second layer every time you swim, the water is going to cause serious damage. In swimming pools, chlorine destroys color and even damages the fibers of the clothing. They’ll look bad and won’t last.

In the ocean, salt replaces chlorine, but the overall effect is much the same. Even if you swim in crystal-clear mountain lakes every day, the water is still going to put strain on the cotton and damage your boxers or briefs.

manscaped boxers

It’s Bad for the Pool

Admittedly, your underwear isn’t going to break the ocean. But, even if you are a beach bum, you probably make it into swimming pools at some point every summer. When you do, wearing underwear beneath the shorts is bad for the pool itself. Cotton fibers break apart in chlorinated water. When that happens, they have to be processed by the pool filter. Throw enough cotton into the mix, and you’ll destroy the filter.

You might not care if you don’t have to maintain the pool yourself, but when pool filters break, they stop cleaning bad stuff out of the water. When you swim with cotton clothing, you force yourself to stew in everyone else’s filth that much more. 

Speaking of filth, there’s another problem with wearing cotton in the pool. It’s a great way to smuggle bacteria and other microbes into the water. If you want to prevent your swims from including a nice summer infection, leave the cotton out of the water. 

It’s Visible

Let’s get down to the fashion. It’s pretty much impossible to hide the fact that you have underwear beneath your swim shorts. The outline will often be visible. More to the point, when you actually get wet, the water is going to pull your trunks down a little. The waistband of your underwear will always peek out for a look. When that happens, you’re going to look like a doofus.

Seriously, wearing underwear with your trunks is one of those tell-tale signs that you have no fashion sense and low self-confidence. We should go ahead and throw it in the same category as socks with sandals. You really don’t want to be that guy.


All great rules have exceptions. If you have socks on and you need to take the trash out, you’re going to be tempted to just throw some sandals on and get it done. In that same vein, there are times when you might be able to justify underwear beneath your swimwear.


It’s pretty simple. Swim shorts can chafe. That waterproof material can be merciless when things don’t line up quite right. So, here’s the rule. If you need to wear the swim trunks all day, and you’re not getting in the water (maybe you’re at a beach volleyball tournament?), then it’s ok to sport some underwear — provided chafing is a problem. That’s pretty specific, and not on accident.

You Aren’t Swimming

In fact, we can extend the chafing rule quite a bit. If, for whatever reason, you’re wearing trunks with no intent to swim, underwear is somewhat justifiable. It’s still not ideal, and if it shows, you’ll still look like a doofus, but sometimes we choose the shorts that look good over the ones that feel good. So, utilize this rule with discretion.

do you wear underwear under swim shorts

Bad Excuses

Our list of exceptions is pretty short. You might think that you have some other good reasons to wear something under your trunks. You are mistaken.

See-Through Shorts

Sometimes it happens. The trunks look good in the store, but as soon as they get wet, you’re flashing everyone in line of sight. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve all fallen pray at some point. Here’s the thing. This is not an excuse to wear those same trunks again with underwear. That’s the wrong solution. Instead, replace the bad swim shorts or else risk becoming a registered sex offender. We’re men. We don’t negotiate with bad clothing. 

Medical Conditions

So, you got a rash you don’t want to discuss. You should probably stay out of the water, but everyone’s going for a swim today, and you don’t want to be left behind. You can use a pair of briefs to hold a salve in place, and you’ll be fine, right? Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If you have a medical condition that makes getting wet a bad thing, just don’t swim. It’s a special combination of gross and stupid to forge ahead in this scenario. Worse, you’re going to label yourself as a doofus while you do something gross and stupid. That’s three losses in one bad decision. Nobody can recover from that.

The Right Way

Ok. We’ve covered the wrong way to display your swimwear. How about we discuss a few methods to doing this thing correctly? There are changing fashion trends when it comes to swim shorts. Just a few years ago, board shorts were everywhere. Now, they’ve faded in popularity, unless you’re living that surfer lifestyle.

If you want to play it safe, good swim shorts will resemble fashionable non-swimming shorts. The chino style is crazy hot right now, so your trunks should be slimming and colorful. They also don’t have to cover the knees. You aren’t looking to show upper thigh, but if the whole knee is exposed, you’re in pretty good shape.

There’s something to note. If conservative shorts are showing more skin, you have to be more careful about what you reveal. Back in the heyday of board shorts, you could get away with a lot. Now, even a slightly unkempt bush might pop out to say hello. That’s unforgivable. We’ve reached the day and age where you should just assume you need to manscape if you’re going to be around people. If you’re going to reduce overall clothing in that process, approach your manscaping with a little extra diligence. 

do you wear underwear under swim shorts

Now, if you want to step outside of standard fashion, there are other ways to get wet. Speedos aren’t actually out, but they require more finesse. In short, you probably shouldn’t be wearing performance swimwear unless you actually can perform. But, if you’ve done your time at the gym, this is a great way to show off your gains. Go for it. Just don't skimp on male grooming before you go out.

On the flip side, some of you didn’t quite meet your summer fitness goals. We get it, but you shouldn’t try to hide your soft upper body when you swim. This actually makes things worse. For starters, we just explained to you why cotton shirts are bad for swimming. Secondly, even water shirts are tough to pull off. If you’re so fair-skinned that you’ll burn without a shirt, it might be worth taking the hit. Otherwise, own your body, wear some sunscreen, and let your upper body be free. The one exception is water sports. If you’re doing something that involves aquatic gear (like surfing or jet skiing), then suddenly anyone can pull off a water shirt. It’s crazy, but it’s true.

That should be enough to keep you out of trouble this summer. At least, it’s enough to look good when you go for a swim. Never forget that swimming is hard on the skin. After you’ve had a day of fun, remember to stick to a solid hygiene/skin care routine. It’ll keep you from turning into Ashy Larry over the summer, and it’ll help you feel cool and fresh on even the hottest days. For that skin care and everything else you need to be your best this summer, don’t forget to turn to



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