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Ask Chris Black: What Stuff Do You Always Bring to the Beach?

Photo: Yimmy Yayo; Courtesy Retailers

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Regular readers of the Strategist will know that we’ve previously turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions. For more of Chris’s advice, he’s now answering reader questions for us in a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at

Recently, a veteran beachgoer told the Strategist about her utilitarian essentials for a day on the sand. Which got me wondering: What products does a stylish dude like yourself never hit the beach without?

Ah yes, a beach day. Nothing like roasting in the sun while trying to simultaneously look at Instagram with subpar Wi-Fi. Who doesn’t love it?

As an extremely pale person who has left the sand looking like a fire engine one too many times, I now make sure my beach kit includes some luxe sunscreen. Chanel UV Essentiel will keep your nose from looking like Rudolph’s. It smells incredible, and it’s also very light and quick drying. I only use it on my face. The Aesop Protective Body Lotion will keep the rest of your skin protected and smelling like a stylish, minimalist apothecary. Aesop is a blue-chip brand that I trust; I simply walked into the store asked what sunscreen they had and bought it. No comparison shopping needed.

Maybe you are looking to BRONZE. If you want to encourage a deep, dark, tropical tan, put on your tiny bather and slather some of this on your pectorals. Nothing says “beautiful tan” like Tom Ford, the man and the brand. A disclaimer: I have not used this product, but I probably would.

When you become overheated and need a break between chapters of Normal People, pull this out and soothe your face with a refreshing spritz. A couple of hits and your skin will feel moisturized after a day of cooking in the sun. It’s also great for the plane!

You will, of course, have to hydrate continually. I fill up my Snow Peak Kanpai — the Rolls Royce of water bottles — with cold water before I leave the house, and it stays cold for roughly six hours. Refreshing!

You are going to need a towel, obviously. If you’re staying at a hotel, it will likely provide one, but I think it’s nice to make a statement with your own. This Missoni beach towel will dry you off and telegraph your support for Italian family-owned businesses. It’s a not-so-subtle way to stand out among the more basic towels of your friends and fellow beachgoers.

If you are a film buff, A24 (the studio behind the new folk-horror flick Midsommar) has a Widescreen Beach Towel that will let other beachgoers know you are happy to discuss this season’s Oscar contenders with them when you need a break from the sun.

This sand-colored tote from Engineered Garments can be slung over your shoulder, and would easily fit all of these beach essentials (it’s also sold in navy). The brand doesn’t skimp on quality, and its products always feature just enough interesting detail to make them stand out without being loud or obnoxious. Quiet luxury, it’s a lifestyle.

I’ve never been much of a hat guy, but I’m headed to some hot places this year and thinking I should get a baseball cap (which seem to be your headgear of choice). I’m intrigued by a Noah cap, but I worry people will think my name is Noah. What are some others you like?

I have mentioned this on the World Wide Web before, but my summer look is “Ivy Sport.” The goal is to look like a tennis player who has been kicked off the tour. Or maybe I am a slightly disheveled pro at an exclusive beachside club, having an affair with a member’s wife. I don’t know!

From $32

The pièce de résistance of my Ivy Sport look is the Nike Featherlight hat in black (or, if you are feeling flashy, volt). Honestly, it’s the perfect hat for all seasons. It’s super-breathable, and we are checks over stripes on this side of the Atlantic!

For even more protection from the sun, Beams Plus has you covered with this long-billed fishing cap. Don’t be afraid to make a statement, summer is the time for experimentation!

If you didn’t get into Central St. Martins, but love ketamine, warehouse raves, brutalist architecture, and you actually buy things at Dover Street Market, an Affix hat is a must-have (if you like this one, act fast, because it’s on sale).

When traveling, I think it is always necessary to let people know that you are a card-carrying member of the liberal coastal elite! Thankfully, the paper of record makes a hat that just says Manhattan. It is a thing of beauty.

Or, if your idea of a perfect evening is enjoying a picnic while crying to The National playing live, this Hollywood Bowl hat is perfect. It would also look great while picking up a fresh loaf of Bub & Grandma’s sourdough at Cookbook in Echo Park, while your cute child and dog wait in your BMW station wagon.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Ask Chris Black: What Do You Always Bring to the Beach?