Women's swim shorts and boardshorts are our favorite summer secret—we reach for them anytime we’re planning on doing more than lounging on the beach (which, let’s face it, is almost always). Here’s why these two swim bottoms
are our favorite beach, swim, and watersports picks, and how we decide when to reach for each.
What are board shorts & swim shorts used for?
They may look similar, but these two must-have swimwear pieces do serve slightly different purposes.
- Board short: women use board shorts to go over their swimsuit, kind of like swim cover ups
. They’re best for both in and out of water activities—think volleyball, sailing, paddleboarding, or grabbing a quick bite from the snack shack. Board shorts are typically made of 4-way stretch, quick-dry fabrics with UPF 50 coverage. We've got a selection of boardshorts lengths, from long board shorts to short size board shorts, to coordinate with our active swim bottoms and tops.
- Swim short: womens swim shorts, on the other hand, are basically the shorts version of a bikini bottoms
. They’re great for—you guessed it—swimming! (And in the surf, with the kids, or whatever else you’re doing in the water.) Swim shorts are made of the same stretchy material as other swimwear, and usually have a built-in brief and drawstring waist. They pair perfectly with bikini tops
or tankini tops
So what’s the best thing to wear under boardshorts?
Think of boardshorts as an addition, while swim shorts are a replacement. We wear boardshorts over our regular swimsuit or bikini bottoms for that extra level of coverage. Swim shorts, on the other hand, are specifically shorts for swimming women (Or surfing, diving, or SUPing women) So, to review: grab boardshorts to go OVER your swimsuit bottoms; grab swim shorts INSTEAD of your swimsuit bottoms.
Are swim shorts quick drying?
Our boardshorts and swim shorts for women are all built to dry quickly, but because swim shorts are made from the same fabric as our suits, they’re specifically built to stay put, provide sun protection, and be quick drying.
Do swim shorts have UPF protection?
The good ones do, yes! It’s key to check the label of any swim piece you’re purchasing to make sure you’re covered in the sun, but at Title Nine, all our swim shorts come with UPF 50 sun protection built right in. (You’re welcome.)
Why do swim shorts or board shorts have netting or mesh lining?
The mesh netting or lining of swim shorts protects your most sensitive parts from getting chafed or rubbed the wrong way. Like swimsuits, women shorts use a special material to keep you protected. Since swim shorts often have a looser fit (which means more potential for rubbing and chaffing) it's a no-brainer for quality swimwear (like T9!) to include mesh lining or netting or built-in briefs in their swim bottoms.
How should board shorts fit?
Board shorts for women should fit like regular shorts—snug enough to stay put, but loose enough to give you all the stretch you need. These pull-on shorts can be high-waisted or low-rise; they also come in different inseams from boyshort to mid-length, just like regular women's shorts. Our other must-have features? Built-in pockets and an adjustable waistband.
How do you know if you need to size up or down with board shorts or swim shorts?
Swim shorts fit much like your other swimsuit pieces—while our SurFlex fabric minimizes sagging and stretching, every swimsuit (even T9 swim) gets a little looser when it's wet, so it's key to have a tight, almost compressive fit on land. Want to know more about finding your perfect swim fit? Check out our swim fit guide
for all the details.
Boardshorts and other beachwear are often made of a different material than your swimsuit (they're often made of a four-way stretch, quick-dry fabric) that has a little more structure, but the same idea holds true—board shorts tend to loosen when they get wet as well.
So, do board shorts or swim shorts for women get tighter when they get wet? Nope, in fact, they usually get looser. If they're barely hanging on on dry land, size down so you don't lose them in the water. On the other hand, if they're so tight you can't breathe, try sizing up—you should be comfortable enough to move, stretch, and dare, no matter what swimwear you're wearing.
Looking for more on the ins and outs of board shorts and swim shorts for women? Check out our guide to all things Board Shorts vs Swim Shorts