According to legend, SoCal surfer Dale Velzy and buddies at the Manhattan Beach Surf Club invented the modern board short by cutting their white sailor pants just above the knee. Why the long length? Their decision was one of practicality – the length prevented their thighs from chafing against their wax-covered boards. While hemlines have periodically risen and dropped over the ensuing six decades, quality baggies like Birdwell 301s still measure 15 inches – long enough to honor Velzy's vision but short enough to fit today's more tailored look. Handmade in California by the same family since 1961, Birdwell Beach Britches are extremely durable: They're made of two extra-thick layers of heavy nylon that are double-stitched for strength (expect 10 seasons of use) and nicely designed to dry quickly. They're available in 26 colors, but we dig royal blue and classic red, worn by Newport Beach lifeguards since 1961. [$61; birdwellbeachbritches.com]
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