Can women wear board shorts?

When you hear someone mention board shorts, images of male surfers playing in the waves come to mind. Although board shorts were originally designed for men, you can also find many styles of women's board shorts that are perfect for swimming, hiking, playing in the water with kids, and just for casual summer wear.

What are board shorts?

Board shorts were originally designed for surfers who wanted to ensure that their swim trunks stayed on their body even when getting thrashed about in the waves. The longer length of the legs provided more coverage in case of a wipeout and getting dragged over shells and sand. The longer length helped with sun protection on the legs as well.

Early versions of board shorts did not have elastic waistbands but rather a rigid waistband that opened in the front and closed with either Velcro or lace ties. This design helped to keep the board shorts from being pulled off if the wearer was caught in a wave. Generally, board shorts, especially for men, are worn with no underwear underneath.

So, if board shorts are designed for men, can women wear them? Absolutely they can! As board shorts become more mainstream beachwear, and more and more women engage in active water sports, designers are now making board shorts specifically for women. With summer here, you will want to stock up on women's board shorts and brush up on how to wear them.

Active water sports

If you are a woman who enjoys being active in or on the water, then board shorts are the perfect piece of clothing to wear. Most women's board shorts have an elastic waistband for comfort, so make sure you choose ones that have a strong waistband with an additional drawstring tie that will keep them secure.

If you would like to have extra coverage for your upper thighs and backside, pick a pair of board shorts in a longer length, 7 inches or 9 inches long. Longer board shorts are excellent for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding to help keep your thighs from getting sunburned.

If you are a surfer, pick a shorter length, 5 inches or so, so that gives you the freedom of movement to kick up onto your surfboard. You can also wear shorter length shorts for swimming when you want more coverage than a standard swimsuit provides. Just be sure to pick a pair that does not have a mesh liner so that you can wear them over a swimsuit bottom.

Board shorts for hiking or running

Women's board shorts are not just for the beach. Because of the stretchy material and quality waistband design, boards shorts are perfect for day hikes, trail running, or even jogging in the park. Choose a material like nylon or polyester that is quick-drying so you don't end up hiking or jogging in sweaty cotton shorts.

Whether to wear underwear under board shorts while hiking or running comes down to personal preference. More traditional board shorts have Velcro and stitching in the crotch area, which could bunch up and be quite uncomfortable. When you are in the water all day, it is easy to wear a swimsuit under your board shorts, but when hiking or running, a swimsuit bottom won't wick moisture away. Instead, choose a pair of board shorts that have a built-in mesh liner, or slip on a pair of moisture-wicking underpants to help you stay dry in all the right places.

Board shorts for casual wear

Because board shorts are becoming acceptable to wear for casual occasions, you can find styles that won't make you look like you just came from the beach. Some board shorts look like regular stylish shorts but still come with plenty of the features that make boards shorts so desirable to wear. A wide elastic waistband that sits high on the waist gives plenty of coverage for your midsection and creates a comfortable fit for all-day wear. You can easily pair tank tops, T-shirts, or long sleeve blouses with cute board shorts.

Longer lengths (7 to 9 inches) give the shorts less of a swimwear appearance so they look great with loafers, boat shoes, or sandals. If you are concerned about tummy bulge, look for board shorts that have built-in tummy control for a smooth look that will flatter any body shape. Casual board shorts look especially good when made with floral prints, abstract patterns, or a vertical stripe of contrasting color to give the shorts a bit of pizazz.

No matter how you choose to wear boards shorts this summer, feel confident that you will find pieces designed for a woman's body. You no longer have to try and fit your shape into a pair of men's board shorts when you can find styles designed just for women.

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