For whatever reason, board shorts—the best hope us guys have of wearing short pants without looking doofy—are too often designed with radioactive colors and conspicuous prints. We’re looking at you, Billabong, Hurley and Quiksilver. Risk blinding your friends with choices like those or—assuming you’re not in the habit of saying “totally tubular”—pick from the stylish, toned-down selections that follow.
1. Diamonds Panel Trunk ($60, The Critical Slide Society): Little known stateside, this Aussie company makes some smoking clothing, including shorts like these that, while bold, won’t sear your retina.
2. Evolution Trunk ($85, Outerknown): If you must cover your loins with bright colors, Kelly Slater’s new clothing company Outerknown has some subtle designs, like this one with tropical foliage. They’re a bit pricier but a helluva lot more tasteful than the boardies you rock now.
3. Cut Out Stripes ($68, Mollusk): Known for selling gorgeous retro-inspired surfboards, Mollusk also has a line of clothes that, like this classic design, harken back to yacht clubs and beaches during simpler times.
4. Time Warp Board Shorts ($48, Captain Fin): The SoCal-based maker of eye-catching surfboard fins has brought their not-trying-too-hard aesthetic to shorts. Like a well-chosen pair of surf fins, these shorts add an accent of style without screaming for attention.
5. Particle Board Shorts ($44, RVCA): Though these two-way stretch board shorts are technical enough to surf, swim or do Crossfit in, they don’t look it. The core surf brand RVCA always maintains an understated vibe.
6. Twilight Elastic Board Shorts ($55, Rusty): Throwback clothes are all the rage in the surf world right now. And while neon is fun, guys probably shouldn’t wear it between their waist and knees. You can still get that ’80s flavor with this pair of stonewashed board shorts.
7. Fragment Trunk ($68, Hippy Tree): Color is great when you do it right. Surfing and rock climbing company Hippy Tree finds winning combinations by using muted tones and pairing colors and patterns that bring one another out.
8. Equator Board Shorts ($42, Vuori): With four-way stretch, these shorts are built for moving. And after you’re done with AcroYoga on the beach, they won’t look out of place or blind bystanders on your bike ride home.
9. Acid Slinger Board Shorts ($62, Volcom): The acid-washed look of these Volcom board shorts is very chill indeed. There’s nothing boring about them—but also nothing embarrassing.
10. Well Worn Board Shorts ($65, Roark Revival): Unlike most boardies, this ultra-comfortable pair is composed of 55 percent cotton, giving it a lush feel off the rack. It’s as if you’ve worn them for the duration of a weeks-long adventure, something you’ll definitely be tempted to do.
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