Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: They say women fret endlessly about the swimsuit, agonizing over whether there is a design that will turn them from Melissa McCarthy into Bo Derek. It's time for the menfolk to cop to the same level of pre-beach anxiety.

RN: Thank you for ruining what was turning out to be an otherwise lovely, stress-free morning. I suppose your next suggestion is going to involve overhead fluorescent lights, a three-sided mirror and a pair of jammers. Thanks, but no thanks.

CP: I was maybe 8 years old the last time I had a swimsuit I loved. I recently came across a photo of me in it. I can only describe the style as a slightly baggy squarecut, a sort of textured white man-made material, with a red-and-blue striped waistband. Mildly patriotic and altogether winning.

RN: I may have had the same one.

CP: I wore it with pride on family outings to Tower Road beach on Lake Michigan. It's been downhill ever since.

RN: The swimsuit of my youth only revives feelings of humiliation. It was my junior-high AAU swim team's Speedo, and I'm ashamed to say that the pattern was called "Purple Island Bug." I only remember the name, these 40 years later, because it was so traumatizing.

CP: Permanently scarred, I tell you. That's what I was when, along with scores of other grade-schoolers, I was issued a black "tank suit" for wintertime swim lessons at the high school's indoor pool. In that belittling outfit, I mainly recall shivering at water's edge.

RN: You were a poolside foot-soaker? Yikes. We're talking the subterranean depths of the chlorine club's social hierarchy.

CP: Like you, my cousin was on a swim team. He could sport a skimpy swimsuit like nobody's business. So that was devastating.

RN: Yes, we hate cousin Boyd, who remains sickeningly fit into his mid-50s.

CP: As an adult, I have, of course, made a lengthy series of terrible swimsuit choices. Kill me, but I just never wanted to go the route of the USA's oh-so-boring contribution to men's swimwear culture — the "surfer-inspired" baggy board short. Meh.

RN: Better to follow the example of "Casino Royale" costume designer Lindy Hemming, who shoehorned Daniel Craig into baby blue La Perla Grigioperla Lodato trunks. It was an Oscar-worthy look, although it helps to be blessed with the latest James Bond's chiseled physique.

CP: That movie singlehandedly boosted sales of similar swimsuits by 6,000 percent in 2006-07, according to the international trade group SnugTrunks. It being a free world, the Bond knockoffs were purchased by many consumers who had no business sporting them.

RN: It's the swimwear version of the Shirtless Running Guy Syndrome: the sole sans-chemise jogger you see at Lake Calhoun is the one who should have his hoodie zipped to the neck.

CP: So, sage one, what's a middle-aged guy to do? There has to be something between droop-to-the-knees gym short and a thong.

RN: Stay off the beach. At our age, we can always peg it as a skin- cancer-avoidance strategy.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib