Forty years ago, Bondi beach inspector Aub Laidlaw arrested men wearing brief swimming togs and charged them with indecency.

Four decades later, a poll shows that the tight-fitting togs - known almost universally by the brand name Speedos - still haven't won general approval.

When asked what type of togs look best on men, more than threequarters of New Zealanders preferred boardshorts over briefs.

But the Herald DigiPoll survey shows that men have no objection to skimpy beachwear - just as long as it's on women.

While 74 per cent of males went for 'boardies' over briefs, two-thirds of them gave an approving nod to the equally skimpy female equivalent - the bikini.

Women expressed even more horror than men at the thought of briefs - 80 per cent preferred boardshorts.

Women were also reluctant to step out in a bikini.

Two-thirds preferred one-piece suits.

Older people were especially prudish over the bikini - nearly two-thirds of those over 60 said they preferred a one-piece suit, compared with just one-third of those between 18 and 39.

But older people and Asians turned out to be big fans of the Speedo style.

The magistrate in the Bondi case decided that because the men were not showing pubic hair, they were not being guilty of indecency.

However, the court of public opinion is a powerful one and for most beachgoers, even giving brief trunks colourful names - grape satchel, banana hammock or budgie smugglers - have not succeeded in making them appealing.