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The virtues of beachwear are simple: easy going leisure garments that are flattering, simple and fun. Made to be worn on the sand, by the pool or on a boat, the best pieces are unfussy and casual, looking great even after being sprayed in saltwater.
For a good century, resort-wear’s most refined options have drawn inspiration from Europe’s Riviera (aka the beau monde’s favorite beach towns). This school of warm weather attire never fails to look elegant thanks to a timeless combo of breezy linen tailoring, sleek polos and trim shorts. America’s equivalent—the tony seaside enclaves of Cape Cod—has its own preppy stalwarts: faded oxford shirts, embroidered shorts, loafers and deck shoes.
Hardy materials that don’t mind the salt and heat come into their own: linens and cottons, from gauzy knits to dense toweling. Jose de Abreu of Portuguese brand La Paz has even developed a lightweight terrycloth for sweaters. “It offers the perfect balance between a regular fleece and a towel,” he explains, “making it a lightweight and cozy garment for after surfing or when you’re getting that summer evening sea breeze.”
That essence—a knockabout ease that looks smart from day to night—is a hallmark of summer’s best beachwear, and of the 12 picks below.