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Summer coolness begins and ends with this trend: swim sets

Look just like James Bond in Goldfinger

family matching at the pool
Duvin

It is time once again to prepare yourself for the unbearable heat. School is out, the coats are packed away, and the sunblock is stocked. Whether you are planning trips to the beach, river floats filled with booze and music, or a relaxing afternoon by the pool, there is a need for the right look to cap off the experience. That is where summer sets come in.

You may think that the only upgrade you need to make is to grab a new pair of shades and the right swimsuit for the season. But there is a new-ish fad that is all the rage, and if you want to be the best-looking and most talked about guy on the beach, whether you have the Zac Effron abs or not, then you need to invest in one of these new looks ASAP. We here at The Manual aren’t the type to just say this willy-nilly; we’ll make our case. And yeah, we’ll definitely give you our favorite selections so you can go out there and show the summer who is boss.

Why we fell in love with summer sets

Couple at the pool
Yuri Manei / Pexels

First, let’s talk about what constitutes a summer set. There is a bit of a range here, but the core of the ensemble is a matching top and bottom made specifically for the waterside. Oftentimes, the bottom is lined to make them appropriate for swimming, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, they are made to simply lounge by the pool or the riverside to enjoy your favorite cocktail. But where did these come from, and why did we fall in love with this look nearly six decades ago?

Like many looks that became men’s favorites around the mid-1900s, you can thank James Bond and his impeccable style for the rise of this trend. When Sean Connery returned to the screen as 007 in 1964 for Goldfinger, he created one of the best film wardrobes of all time. Over and over, sartorial nerds go back to that film to show what true style looks like. From his flawless 3-piece gray glen plaid suit to the sexy brown country suit, Bond’s reputation in style can be traced back to this film. But, of course, we’re talking about one scene in general.

Near the beginning of the movie, we meet the titular villain as he is cheating his way to victory at a card game. Bond sneaks up behind his cohort having just taken a dip in the pool. Now, no self-respecting spy would just walk around in a wet bathing suit. No sir, Bond donned a one-piece oversuit that sparked the desire for all men to replicate the unique style. 60 years later, not only does the look still stand up, but you can still get that oversuit today. More on that later.

How they came back

Man at the pool
Roger Rodrigues / Pexels

The resurgence of the summer set has taken off in the last two seasons, and while we are excited to see them, the jump start is thanks to fast fashion. Buying a full summer set became all the rage for the summer vacation last summer. And buying a new summer set for a week-long stay at a resort can feel superfluous. Enter fast fashion brands like SHEIN, who offer quick and easy summer sets. They serve you well for that one trip, and then you’d need to buy another for the next trip.

Regardless of the fast-fashion angle, summer sets are back, and now there are other brands with higher quality that aren’t fast-fashion and make great summer sets for you to use over and over on trips year after year.

Our favorites

Dandy Del Mar summer set
Dandy Del Mar

Like any fad that comes about, multiple brands will jump on board and do their very best to create their own twist on the trend. Of course, here at The Manual, we have our favorites. They come to us either thanks to a unique take on the trend or they are the highest quality and most stylish. In any case, no fast fashion here. All high quality, high style, and high praise. Here are our favorite summer sets.

man in Dandy Del Mar set
K.C. Stone / The Manual

Dandy Del Mar Cannes Waffle Knit – Dandy Del Mar is one of the premier destinations for anything that reaches back to breath new life into returning trends. From knit and crocheted polos to vintage colors, they are the perfect selection for bringing back the Bond look. The Cannes shorts aren’t swim shorts, but there are plenty of great swim shorts (at the stylish shorter length) that this suit can cover, allowing you to wear it the same way Bond wore his, as a cover-up.

 

Man on a boat in matching set
The Manual

Duvin Traveler Set—There is no need to cover here. The shorts are swim shorts, and the shirt would even do well in the water if you are one of those guys who didn’t put in the work during the off-months. Either way, the brown stripe is a great color and style throwback to the summer sets of old, with a new twist on the style.

 

man in Orelebar Brown swim onesie
Orlebar Brown

Orlebar Brown Goldfinger Onesie – And finally, of course, we have the OG. Orlebar Brown is one of the best destinations if you want to dress like James Bond. Their polos are top-notch and will make you feel just as built as the supers spy. However, they have recreated the onesie from Goldfinger in creme and black, giving you the perfect look for the summer.

The cold weather is gone, and there is now a need for a waterside getaway. Don’t leave home without one of these summer sets if you want to be the most stylish in the group. And looking as good as Sean Connery’s James Bond is NEVER a bad thing.

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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