The Evolution of the Cabana Jacket

In the mid 1980’s I worked at a ski and windsurf shop. The clothing merchandiser surprised me with a special item from Quiksilver. In strict definition it was a Cabana Jacket. Terry towel on the inside and a garish design on the outside. It became an instant favorite, so much so, that I wore it out over the next few summers.

The jacket sported not only a unique retro look but it was utterly practical and comfortable. It was short sleeved, button-up and featured two handy square pockets. You stayed cool in it when you were hot and warm when it drew cool. And the ladies loved it or so I like to think.

Recently, out of nostalgia, I went searching for a replacement. The only options I could initially find were vintage offers on eBay. No one seemed to be making them anymore. Not even Catalina. That famous beachwear company is still in business but now produce swim and leisure wear only for women. In the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s Catalina was huge.

If you look at photos from those decades you will see men wearing matching cabana jackets and shorts everywhere. My father had a baby blue ensemble with red piping. Celebrities wore them too. The Rat Pack lounged around Las Vegas pools sporting the latest styles. Sean Connery as James Bond wore a bizarre one-piece variation called a “playsuit”. It did not look very manly for a spy battling Goldfinger.

Doggedly I continued my search and was rewarded. A company called Win Win Beachwear popped up with the tagline, “It’s fashion. It’s function. It’s a Win Win!” Two young entrepreneurs are bringing back the style for men, ladies and children. The US$149.00 Seersucker Cabana Jacket suckered me with its timeless style. Win Win honors traditional with a variety of designs that will sparkle up any boat or beach.

Still my search was not over. That is when I happened across two companies offering the coolest update of the Cabana Jacket. Now I consider myself a sophisticated, top-drawer preppy who goes as far back to the ‘70’s in this choice of style. I wear crested blazers and I mean it. In the summer months Tretorns adorn my feet. My Ralph Lauren nightshirt has me dreaming of scotches and high-back leather chairs. Only Brooks Brothers polos will do.

Yet, my preppy pedigree had not prepared me for a Toweling Blazer. Even before I knew what they were about, I had to have one and the company who appears to dominate the market is BASK. They put out men’s, women’s and children’s varieties. These look like country club blazers but are meant for the pool, lake, boat or if BASK got their way…jaunting about town.

The company has been profiled in Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, and Creator. BASK founder, Marko Andrus, told Creator that his Toweling Blazers are not for everyone, “Though it’s priced for everyone, it’s not for everyone and I get that. But it resonates strongly with people who appreciate a certain La Dolce Vita lifestyle.” His men’s and ladies so-cool coats are priced at US$298.00. Town & Country wrote that if Gatsby wore a cover up it would be a BASK Toweling Jacket.

Criquet Shirts of Austin also produces a Toweling Blazer. This company began when the founders sought to perfect polo shirt. Vanity Fair wrote that they achieved a sweet spot between northeastern prep and Austin’s creative vibe. Their US$298.00 Toweling Blazer is made in collaboration with BASK. It is an compelling variation for elegant poolside soirees.

 

My search paid off. Not only was the classic Cabana Coat still in circulation but now there was an even more sophisticated option. My sailing club is hereby warned. I intend to make Toweling Blazers a standard on the docks.


 

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