I wanted a new towel to accessorize my blue Ella Moss bikini—and to replace my old 90210 one from high school. At Pucci, the only one I found amid the colorful madness was light pink with geometric leaves in bright magenta, coral, and yellow. But the psychedelic terry cloth, however plush, would be more at home in Barbie’s dream house than on the sands of Long Island. 701 Fifth Ave., nr. 55th St.; 212-230-1135.
After falling deeply in love with a Marc Jacobs bikini at Henri Bendel, I noticed a basket of cloth pouches that looked like sarongs. After opening them, I realized the sarongs doubled as towels; one side was lavender cotton with a plaid border, and the other side was purple terry cloth. Though it would match my bikini well, the terry side was too thin to dry me off properly. 712 Fifth Ave., nr. 56th St.; 212-247-1100.
I popped into the crowded Louis Vuitton boutique one block up and made a beeline for the accessories area, where I discovered a rich navy-blue towel with a blue hibiscus print. The only logo was a circle in the center with “Louis Vuitton” written out—it was downright demure for Vuitton. The soft, velourlike terry and big size would whisk me dry in a flash, and the color scheme would complement my new baby-blue suit. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good Hawaiian print. 1 E. 57th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-759-5195
Farther east at Pottery Barn, a clever saleswoman tipped me off to the kids’ department where I found sea-creature-inspired towels—which were less expensive than adult ones. I loved the crab style, which featured cute red crawlers in different sizes on a plain white background. The super-supple terry cloth felt great on my face, and the playful pattern reminded me of the beach. 127 E. 59th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 917-396-0050.
The next day, I swung by Etro, lured by the two gorgeous pillows in the front window. I overheard a woman with a tiny poodle ask for beach towels so I followed her and picked out a style that depicted two orange-and-black monarch butterflies on a floral-patterned base of hot pink and green. Outlined in black, every shape—including both of the butterflies—became graphic and almost abstract, making the patterns pop off the towel. As trippy and beautiful as it was, I didn’t want a towel that would distract attention from me. 720 Madison Ave., nr. 64th St.; 212-317-9096.
At Hermès, just down the street, I picked up yet another animal-inspired beach towel. This one had two opposite-facing fish, done in a tiled, mosaic style against a deep red border and a sandy-colored background. The fish were “tiled” in deep reds and browns with accents of lime green and sandy yellow. Though chic and elegant, the colors were too fall-like—not what I wanted on a bright, sunny day. 691 Madison Ave., nr. 62nd St.; 212-751-3181.
After a day of biking around the Village, I locked up my bike and went to Jonathan Adler. Amid the pottery and decorative home objects, I found the Cool Waves towel, which had gradating wavy blue lines, from navy to white. The towel was enormous, which I liked, but the terry cloth was nubby and thin. It felt as if it wouldn’t keep the sand off and would be scratchy on bare skin. That made it the wrong pick. 37 Greenwich Ave., nr. Charles St.; 212-488-2803.
At Anthropologie, I found the Blue Mum beach towel which had a very bright Pop Art print of graphic flowers and vines. The pattern was fun and colorful but reminded me of sixties window curtains. It managed to look dowdy and tacky—far from the chic LV florals I liked so much. I did score a great embroidered cover-up, but the beach-towel department was not a hit. 375 W. Broadway, nr. Broome St.; 212-343-7070.