In a world of summertime fabrics like linen, hemp, and chambray, be a terry. Why, you ask? Here’s the scoop: Lighter than a fleece sweat and thicker than a jersey tee, terrycloth is the ultimate goldilocks fabric you never knew you needed during the warm weather months. Terry doesn’t take itself too seriously, but don’t just shrug it off as a beach towel you can wear. This year’s coolest laid-back summer garments are coming in styles that can take you from the pool cabana to the tiki bar.
Terrycloth is a midweight, low-maintenance knit fabric originating in 19th-century France, where it was woven on special looms with silk (and eventually cotton) to make bath towels and robes. Also known as French terry or towelling, the textured fabric is made up of raised uncut loops that lend extra surface area, making it exceptionally breathable and moisture-wicking. Its popularity exploded in the ‘90s as fuzzy logo-laden tracksuits reigned as a trend, but in the past few years, the versatile fabric’s been making a hotly anticipated comeback in the form of resort wear staples from sophisticated polo shirts to comfy shorts and retro matching sets.
We scouted six pieces you’ll want to throw in your beach bag next time you’re lounging within splashing distance of a pool or beach—no drying off necessary.
1. Tombolo ‘The Angler’ Cabana Shirt and Shorts
Tombolo’s breezy styles will have you cannonballing into a summertime mindset in no time. The unisex brand is taking on the classic Cabana set with matching shirts and shorts that master tropical vacationwear (a nod to the ‘50s). We love the Angler Cabana set, which comes in a cream-and-green color scheme, featuring embroidered fishing graphics, deep pockets, antique brass hardware, and drawstring shorts.
[Shirt $128, shorts $98; tombolocompany.com]
2. J. Crew, Lightweight Sunfaded French Terry Dock Short
These sun-faded slub cotton shorts from J. Crew have the characteristic terry loops on the inside, giving you the ultra-soft feel without the three-dimensional textured look. Coming in seven different colors, the shorts feature a drawstring waist for comfort and two back pockets with buttons to keep wallets and other items secure.
3. Orlebar Brown Jarrett Towelling Coconut Classic Fit Towelling Polo Shirt
Good ole’ “O.B.” has always been synonymous with poolside chilling. You can see that in the hefty number of cotton terry polos and tees that comprise their Towelling collection. We love the classic fit Jarrett cotton polo in the coconut color, which comes with white tipping on the sleeves and collar, plus a two-button placket for a more contemporary finish.
4. Dandy del Mar The Gaucho Terry Cloth Shirt
Based in California, Dandy Del Mar leans deep into the 1960s and 70s with its nostalgic collection of loungewear and swim trunks. The leisurewear brand plucks inspiration from myriad sources. They use classic French flicks like Plein Soleil, retro cigarette ads, and old-school tourism campaigns for inspiration. The terry Gaucho set is inspired by the classic Western aesthetic, designed with embroidered floral details, white piping, and tortoiseshell buttons. For the full “Equatorial Cowboy” look, snag a pair of the Gaucho shorts. Bonus: A portion of your purchase will be donated to environmental nonprofit OCEANA.
[Shirt $109, shorts $69; dandydelmar.com]
5. OAS, Desert Terry Shirt
The Swedes always have short, cool summers. However, they sure do know how to design hip go-to pieces for balmier climes. Case in point: OAS’s collection of 100-percent cotton terry towel shirts that come in a range of Scandi-cool designs. We’re obsessed with the sidewinding motif on the brown-and-beige Desert shirt, made from materials knitted locally in Sweden. No matching shorts needed; all of OAS’s patterns are subtle enough to pair with solid shorts.
6. Onia Garment Dyed French Terry Short
We think every item in Onia’s Modern Traveler Collection is a hit—but their Garment Dyed French Terry pieces in the sleek capsule could easily serve as our summer uniform. The four-piece set includes a sweatshirt, jogger, tee, and shorts that come in a spectrum of shades from neutrals to pastels, and a smooth jersey lining for maximum comfort. They’re also garment-washed, a technical term for pre-washing textiles for durability. This means the softness is out of control and the shape and color won’t fade over time.
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