Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Where I live, the weather is warming up enough for me to start thinking about swim season. I’m a 30-something man trying to up my “fashion” and thought I could start with something simple: swimwear. Can you offer any guidance for what is stylish for men’s beach and pool wear this season?
— Jason T.
Dear Jason: You only have to look at photos of pro basketball players over the years to see what a difference a few inches of fabric can make. Today, men’s swimwear style is for shorter and more fitted styles instead of the looser knee-length of the recent past. Think an inseam of 5 to 7 inches (measured from the crotch using the inside seam to where that seam ends). That said, not all body types are suited for the current trimmed down beachwear fashion styles. Look in the mirror — front and back views — before you buy. For sure, there are men who can even rock a tiny Speedo. And, hey, Jason, if you’ve got a rock-hard body and great abs, you can look good in anything.
More questions for spring and summer…
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I’ve never been comfortable lounging by the pool in a swimsuit. I’ve got issues with my body that I’d prefer to keep under wraps. Can you offer some guidelines for swim cover-ups that look stylish and won’t make me look wrapped up like a mummy?
— Elizabeth O.
Dear Elizabeth: Any dress or top that is easy to wash and can stand up to sun, sand and a little moisture will work for you. Even better if the fabric has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 30 or above. The Skin Cancer Foundation (skincancer.org) rates UPF clothing 30-49 as “very good protection” and 50+ as “excellent.” For instance, UPF 50 fabric blocks 98% of the sun’s rays letting only 1/50th to penetrate.
As for style, if you are intent on genuinely covering up, pick clothing that slips easily over your swimwear and covers to mid-thigh, knee or even ankle. These also can have sleeves that are lightweight but offer arm coverage. Many items sold as cover-ups are mesh, see-through or so lightweight that they don’t do the job. You didn’t ask, but for men — especially men with ample guts — there’s nothing wrong with covering up with a non-clinging shirt, such as a loose-fitting button up instead of the customary T-shirt.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My feet are so not my best feature. Same goes for the men in my life. Now that it is sandal weather, how to improve our worst feature?
— Catherine R.
Dear Catherine: I’m sure you’ve already considered regular salon pedicures — for both men and women. But not all of us can afford them. So, trimmed toenails can go a long way to improving foot appearance and are the first place to make some inroad on unsightly feet. There also are at-home foot mask/peels and scrubs for sale at drugstores and online for only a few dollars to soften dry, unsightly skin. Don’t count on them to remove calluses no matter what they claim to do. Finally, there are loads of summer sandals for men and women that will cover toes, nasty heels, bunions or any other part of your feet you’d prefer to keep under wraps.
Readers had several suggestions for Lily O., who was having trouble finding a swimsuit that gave her the modesty and coverage she was seeking. Cheryl G. has had good luck with swimwearforall.com, where swim dresses and swim tunics in longer lengths and higher necklines are available. Lesley W.’s suggestion is calypsa.com, where there are many options — tops and bottoms — designed for coverage including swim leggings and long swimming bike shorts.
Jen C. speaks for many of us frustrated consumers: “Why did I have to spend 15 minutes on hold to get someone, somewhere from my bank to answer a question about my account and then — after explaining the issue for another half-hour — only to be disconnected with no way to call the person back? What ever happened to even minimal respect for customers’ time? It can’t all be due to COVID-19 even though it seems almost every company wants to hide behind the pandemic to explain away their lousy customer service and other failings!”