Oh no! It’s the return of the Speedo
Those tiny pouches of straining nylon are all the rage again. Look away now ladies, says JAN MOIR
ONLY a certain type of man wears Speedos. A certain type of, shall we say, deluded exhibitionist. The type of man who wants to show you his bacon and eggs before you’ve even agreed to have dinner with him, let alone breakfast.
And the bad news is that he and his mini-trunks are heading your way without delay.
For reasons known to only themselves, British men are once more gung ho for the itsy bitsy, teeny weeny charms of the Speedo.
I hate to break it to you, but this year our beaches will again thrill to the spectacle of thousands of men squeaking along in their 5cm cling-fit Speedos, without a care in the world.
Or a care for those who do not believe that the desperate assemblage of a man’s most private parts inside a tiny pouch of straining nylon, like some sun-dried collection of shrink-wrapped fruit, is a good look for the beach. Or a good look for anywhere, come to think of it.
British men are good at comfy. They certainly know their way around a good cardiora sensible waterproof.
Yet they always find dressing casually for the summer an excruciating challenge — and it is one which few of them are able to meet.
But this lurch towards the tiniest beachwear is something else altogether.
Already this year, retailers such as John Lewis and Debenhams report increasing numbers of male shoppers opting for tiny trunks instead of more sensible and forgiving bathing shorts.
And elsewhere price comparison website Ciao says there has been a 400 per cent increase in
Yes, they’ve got six packs — in the cool box with the Scotch eggs
the number of searches on the internet for Speedos in the past six months, compared to the same period the previous year.
Why? God knows. Perhaps an Olympic spirit is surging through the thickening arteries of the UK male, as he plans one last beach hurrah before old age — or that burgeoning beer belly — finally claims him.
Or perhaps many men remain inspired by the girly screams of rapture that greeted Daniel Craig when he first stepped out in his pale blue budgie smugglers in Quantum of Solace.
They thought to themselves: ‘Hey, anything James Bond can do, I can do better.’ Except they can’t. After all, he is 007. In similar flimsy beachwear, they are oh-oh dear.
Those who strain the most — and it is a stretch, in more ways than one — to ape Craig’s washboard-stomach silhouette will probably be ordinary blokes from Didsbury or Didcot, with drooping calves, a sunburned nose and the radio permanently tuned to the World Cup.
Sure, they’ve got six packs. Of course they’ve got six packs! They’re right there in the cool box, along with the Scotch eggs, the ham sandwiches and the frozen Snickers bars.
Of course, this is not to say that some men don’t look good in Speedos.
In fact, some men look spectacular with just a thin membrane of 80 per cent polyamide and 20 per cent elastane between them and the bold gaze of the world.
However, these men tend to be professional athletes. Or a great big hunk of prime Australian lifeguard. Or members of an Olympic swimming team. Or David Beckham — a man who i s to the white Speedo what Aphrodite is to the scallop shell. Phwoaar and double phwoaar, as they say from here to eternity.
A honed and toned Prince William ready to play water polo can just about get away with Speedos but most men — the mere mortals we know and love — cannot.
Who is going to tell them that instead of looking like a sculpted, nearly-naked Greek god, they look like a rodent rescue worker providing a home for Mummy Hamster and her two baby pups? Not me, that’s for sure.
Those rushing out to buy their new summer Speedos should note that they are the most unforgiving item of clothing on the planet, up to and including Katy Perry’s party dresses and Cher’s infamous cobwebbed Oscar outfits.
They weren’t built for comfort or style, they were built for speed — first designed to reduce the drag of an athlete in water.
Now, in the hands of the average sun seeker, they are the horror of the beachwear world.
As David Cameron keeps pointing out, transparency is a good thing. And indeed it is in politics, in relationships and in a window.
However, it is most definitely not a good thing in swimwear, especially not when it comes to a tiny pair of man-pants being paraded cheek to cheek down a public beach.
And the horror is particularly acute for a nation which happily believed that the tight crotch excesses of yesteryear had been left behind long ago, along with medallions, rockin’ Rod Stewart and Brut aftershave. And now this!
For make no mistake, Speedos are frightening things. Even the names of the different Speedo models can strike terror in the female heart.
They include The Infinite Splice, The Endurance Plus, The Pulse, The Effort Splice (it certainly does), the Herculean Placement (don’t ask, but it has got nothing to do with a table setting), The Rome Splice (like the Infinite and the Effort, but with extra pepperoni) and The Pellet (self-explanatory and a little bit sad). Of course, the real problem is that British men don’t need any encouragement to look stupid in the summer.
Hot weather and the UK bloke, like ice cream on the barbeque, do not go well together. When the temperature soars, men get all confused.
They think a football kit is just the sartorial ticket for a sunny stroll down the dappled boulevard of high summer life.
It is not unfair to say that many of them lack a certain Continental dash, an all-American sportiness and perhaps the kind of oiled-muscle superstructure of their gleaming Oceanic cousins. And they are just not used to it.
The average British bloke does not seem to understand that hot weather does not just mean fewer clothes, it means different clothes. It means a summer wardrobe.
It does not mean a pair of flip flops from the supermarket and a pair of West Ham football shorts.
Or sawn off denims and an old vest last worn to paint the living room in.
Or, yes, those ubiquitous, ghastly three-quarter length trousers that men in their 50s now wear to B&Q on a Saturday afternoon — which make them look like overgrown and rather dim schoolboys. And most of all — please, please most of all — it does not mean Speedos.
Personally, I think a good look to go for on the beach is the Fifties big black pants effort, sported by my f avourite goalkeeper, I t al y’ s Gianluigi Buffon.
Boys! It is rather more forgiving on the body and represents a properly stylish seaside benchmark; the kind of beach bum we all want to see on display this year.
Girls! Beg the man in your life to try on a pair of these instead of climbing i nto the unforgiving embrace of The Pellet. Yet I fear we are all doomed. The only thing to do is to look away now.
Slip on those sunglasses and shield your eyes from the unforgiving spectacle about to unleash itself on European sunspots.
We could f i ght them on the beaches, we could fight them on the streets.
But I fear we will never win.
Beach bums: From top, Rod Stewart, Simon Le Bon and Prince William