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Here's the thing about swimwear: by the time you've gotten that first pool party invite, all the best suits are already sold out in stores. Traditional retail calls for way too much planning ahead – at least if you're even a fraction of the procrastinator that I am. Buying my new trunks in February just isn't in the cards for me, even if I do live in sunny Los Angeles.
But here at TQE, we're obsessed with all things direct-to-consumer, and the seven swimwear brands below have got your back all year round. With new cuts and colorways constantly cycling in – including some brand-new items I got the chance to try on myself – these are suits you can order right to your door in a matter of days. So whether you're stocking up for a last-minute beach trip or need inspo for that vacation that's still a ways off, you can't go wrong with any of these bangers.
Let's keep the italiano theme going with our next brand, Meriggi, which takes its name from the Italian word "meriggiare," the verb for "to rest midday in the shade." Considering that's more or less my favorite hobby, Meriggi had me at hello. But for anyone more skeptical than I, there's no doubt you'll be won over by the trunks themselves, a chic assortment of Mediterranean-inspired styles. Mindful not to go overboard on prints, I went with a solid color – the Dark Olive ($110) – and could not be a bigger fan. Where Meriggi truly excels is in the details: perfectly-sized pockets, the beautifully made drawcord, the engraved button on the back. But even from a distance, it's that gorgeously calibrated color that catches your eye, and has gotten me an endless parade of compliments since I first tried them on. So grazie, Meriggi, and buona vacanza.
With a mission of "refining the art of leisure," the swimsuits that Dandy del Mar has to offer are inspired by the most laid-back of vintage resortwear. This brand is nothing short of a vibe from top to bottom, with poolside playlists and Leisure Letters that speak to the modern-day dandy: that man who lives for aesthetics even in his relaxation. And any dandy knows that the speedo is officially in, even here in the States. So even though I've always been a trunks man, I had to get my hands on the Belize Swim Brief ($79). It's comfortable, well-cut, and has one hell of an eye-catching pattern, which as far as I'm concerned is the trifecta for any swimsuit. I might still be working on my speedo tan (these thighs have a long way to go), but this Dandy del Mar look is all the incentive I need.
If the words "matchy matchy" read less like a faux pas to you and more like a challenge worth accepting, then Kenny Flowers is your guy. With matching shirts and suits that can also be cross-coordinated by men, women and children alike, KF is all about the graphic print. While I opted for the shorts on their own, the Bossitano ($88) is one of the brand’s best sellers and it's easy to see why. The lemon print and blue-and-white background immediately put me in an Italian state of mind, and had me racing to look up limoncello recipes while I waited for it to arrive. I'm happy to report that it's got the right kind of mesh lining (aka the one that doesn't feel like a chickenwire prison after one wash cycle), and a fit that's relaxed but not baggy. Catch me living out my fantasies of sailing to Capri in this one – even if I'm really just sneaking into a nearby hotel pool.
If you've ever visited Palm Springs, you can't miss the Mr. Turk boutique right in the middle of town. It's the perfect spot for this brand, whose full embrace of 1960s color and pattern reflects the swinging heyday of that desert oasis. But lucky for us, Mr. Turk's suits are also one click away, with the full array of the collection available for online order. This isn't the place to go for anything restrained or minimalist – these trunks are as loud as it gets. So lean in! If you're feeling skimpy, the Lagos Swim Brief ($128) is all kinds of fitted, but the Chico Swim Trunk ($218) will get you a little more coverage. Both of these suits project instant confidence whether you've got it or not, and will draw attention away from that sunburn you got after one too many Mai Tais.
And now for something completely different: a little bit of British elegance. Based out of London, Orlebar Brown offers "not so much a swim short but a 'short you can swim in,'" aiming for the kind of bespoke design you can't usually take underwater. The racing stripes on these Cloud O.B. Swim Shorts ($295) feel like something out of a Guy Ritchie film, and the adjustable side-fasteners are your quick ticket to the perfect fit. I could feel the influence of traditional men's trouser tailoring from the moment I tried them on, and couldn't believe they were machine-washable. Low-maintenance but high-class: talk about a serious combination.
When it comes to anything design-minded, never count out the Scandinavians. While Copenhagen might not be an obvious destination for getting your tan on, they're producing some serious swimwear – named for none other than the swimming ponds of Denmark. Pond's cuts are functional and athletic, with an admirable environmental aim to boot: by using fibers that contain at least 50% discarded products, eschewing plastic packaging, and making only small batches at local production centers, the brand is able to massively cut down on its carbon footprint. Its clarity of purpose is reflected in Pond’s super streamlined collection – one Essential Swim Brief (starting from DKK 505,75 or $73 USD) in just a handful of colors. When they look this good, why overcomplicate it?
And for our last installment, we're coming straight to you from another European capital: Milano. With hand-drawn patterns that are positively Romanesque in their flourishes, Ripa Ripa's shorts feel both antique and timeless. As much as I love the brand’s more ornate work, the Paraggi Giallo (€115) hit the sweet spot I didn't have in my collection yet: simple stripes that feel closer to a solid. Collaborating with an atelier right at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, Ripa Ripa is intentional about every detail, including its inseam to leg circumference ratio designed to get rid of the dreaded, baggy "parachute effect." (Spoiler alert: Ripa Ripa nailed it.) From its boutique packaging to the drawcord made from braided nautical rope, this is a brand that exudes unfussy luxury at every turn. It's the kind of swimsuit worth planning your vacation around.
From briefs to shorts to suits so nice it just feels wrong to call them "trunks," the above brands are each putting their own unique, aspirational spin on the world of swimwear. They've got real versatility to boot: beyond the looks I sampled myself, there's a wide range of inseams, patterns and sizes so you can find whatever floats your boat. With summer officially upon us, there's no excuse for feeling anything less than your best when you step out to catch some rays.
So grab a pair and come on in. The water's fine.