Last weekend, it was so hot I felt like I only had two choices: Stay inside in the air conditioning or get my butt to the beach. I chose the latter, and was happy I did, but it made me take stock of my beach-towel collection again. I’ve spent a good amount of time and energy cultivating a solid bathroom-towel situation. (I have these because they dry quickly.) But because I only go to the beach a few times a year, I care less about what I’m bringing to dry off. It makes sense, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like that was maybe an oversight on my part.
Beach towels are big; they take up a good chunk of space in my apartment. I lug them all the way out on the A train every time I go to the Rockaways. And they can say a lot about a person.
Why not just get one that I really like? Then I never have to think about it again, and I will feel impressive every time I do a dramatic rollout when I arrive. When I mentioned this to my colleagues, they perked up. “I saw someone with a coral-colored Chanel beach towel this weekend and it made me reconsider my whole life,” one person joked. While Chanel might be a little out of my range, below are some options that I think would make a splash.
If You Want to Pretend You’re in Italy
I’ve been told that Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole is one of the nicest there is. It’s got beautiful views and is tastefully decorated, and it’s too expensive for me to even consider going. So, of course, I’m dying to go. But you can pretend you’re there (and not at Jacob Riis) by buying a yellow striped beach towel similar to the ones they provide for guests. And if you get it monogrammed, it’s like you’re a VIP guest at your own hotel.
The real thing will cost you a bit more, but they’re out there. Apparently, this mustard shade was introduced for the opening of Mezzatorre, Hotel Pellicano’s sister hotel in Ischia last year, so you can say that if anyone questions you.
If you really want a deep cut, I found this pre-owned beach towel that’s allegedly from Harry’s Bar in Venice on eBay. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but the odds of you running into someone on the beach who can definitively tell you otherwise are slim. And the towel is cool, so if you can afford it, who cares? (Although, you should probably try to negotiate a lower price …)
If You Don’t Mind Something Vintage
We buy vintage clothes, so why not vintage towels, too? As long as they don’t have stains … I’ve always wanted one from Missoni Home, but I actually think some of the brand’s past prints are cooler.
Same goes for Pucci. I may even want this more than a vintage Pucci beach cover-up.
This one is self explanatory. It quite literally screams “status towel.”
If You Want Logos
This one might help get the attention of a surfer.
This towel will surely get you noticed on the beach, but will also telegraph that perhaps you don’t take yourself too seriously. (Which we both know is not true.)
A classic. I love this beach towel. It’s huge and soft, and will never go out of style.
If You Want to Stand Out in a Different Way
A perfect towel for Coney Island. And if you spill ketchup and mustard on it? Even better!
I regret not buying this towel when it came out, but thankfully you can get it at a relatively low price still on Grailed. This is exactly the face I’m going to make when I’m lying on the beach and someone comes up to me and says, “Oh my God, I love your towel!”
If You Want Something More Minimal
I thought I’d finally broken free of the chokehold “Scandi-style” had on me, but this Copenhagen-based towel and bedding brand has me convinced there’s nothing better.
This towel also comes in a color called “tofu,” which is just as lovely, but I’m more of a beach goth, personally.
If You Want to Wear Your Towel
La Sirenuse in Positano is another Italian, Instagram-friendly hotel with great merch.
Jemima Kirke’s character in Conversations With Friends wears this jumpsuit when she goes swimming. I also have it in black and throw it on every time I’m near a body of water.
If you like to do physical activities before you jump in the water, or want to look like you’re into that sort of thing, this jumpsuit seems tennis-adjacent. (I’ve never played tennis.)
You’d never guess unless you really zoomed in, but this skirt is made from repurposed kitchen towels, and is on sale for a good price. (Same for the matching top and jacket.)
Fashion Friend is a nonjudgmental, politely honest shopping-advice column. Send us your hyperspecific questions and we’ll crowdsource answers from people with great taste.