At the top of the list of things that one might least expect today’s youths to be yearning for is Ina Garten’s wardrobe. Like a brooch or pair of suspenders, the idea of dressing like even the most well-respected domestic types feels dated. And yet, this exact sartorial aesthetic — called “coastal grandmother fashion” as of late and pretty similar in concept to writer Harling Ross’ expression, “menocore” and content creator Christina Majjar’s “rich-mom energy” — is the latest development in the grandmillennial craze for vintage style. The coastal grandmother term pertains to the laid-back-yet-luxurious lifestyle habits of well-to-do retirees who live in sleepy, beachside towns in places like Nantucket or Monterey (think Big Little Lies). It went viral when TikToker Lex Nicoleta began posting videos about how such a persona lives.
In addition to fashion, the videos cover everything from inspired food and cocktail recipes to a lifestyle “starter pack.” (The latter includes a home with coastal views, a garden, and several hundred ginger jars to scatter around said home.) Nicoleta even made a Spotify playlist filled with songs that may have you “standing on your porch in a cashmere cardigan, clutching onto your morning coffee for dear life.” In terms of fashion: button-down shirts, straight-leg jeans, roomy knitwear, linen caftans, and pashmina shawls are essential to encapsulating the coastal grandma outfit. And, as Nicoleta also points out, being a grandmother is not a prerequisite to embrace the mood.
Indeed, “[these pieces] not only give a relaxed vibe but still have you feeling polished,” J.Crew’s Head of Women’s Design, Olympia Gayot, tells TZR. Though, unlike true grandmillennialism, this trend is a tad more minimalist, as it leans into neutral hues and evades elaborate pattern-mixing.
For further inspiration, one might study the outfits of some characters who live in filmmaker Nancy Meyers’ movies from the early aughts, like Erica Berry (Diane Keaton) in Something’s Gotta Give and Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) of It’s Complicated. Keaton, whose character often drifted about her Hamptons beach house in chinos and knitwear that matched the washed-out decor, even posted a tribute to coastal grandma chic on Instagram. A day later, Anne Hathaway, who starred in Meyers’ 2015 film The Intern, also declared her penchant for the trend, posing in pale separates and a bucket hat for an Insta photo.
“Everyone wants to completely detach [from reality] and wrap themselves in comfort. We’ve earned a summer uniform that doesn’t consist of tight clothes and stilt-like heels. Instead cardigans, relaxed button-downs, and khakis let us live a chill summer of leisure,” adds celebrity stylist Cindy Conroy. “Think ocean breezes that lull you into the best naps, beach strolls at sunset, and gardening. All the good stuff.”
Keep reading to see, and shop, the exact pieces you need to pull off the coastal grandmother look. The fashion aesthetic is set to replace hot girl summer style.
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A Button-Down Shirt
According to Nicoleta, the key to dressing like a coastal grandmother is, first and foremost, a button-down shirt. The piece exudes effortless class and is easy to style. Wear it tucked in or open, with a tank top underneath, and pair it with everything from shorts and swimwear (it makes for a great beach cover-up) to chinos, jeans, leggings. For good measure, you might also try a polo-like style, such as the one shown below from K.NGSLEY.
A pajama set is arguably the most dignified sleepwear one could wear and, thus, a coastal grandmother essential. (Can you think of even one notable coastal grandmother who would wear a years-old college T-shirt instead?) Cotton versions are classic and cozy. To be extra indulgent, you might opt for a set that includes a robe as well.
Bleached Denim Pants
Coastal grandmother style proves that some clothes never go out of fashion. Light or white denim pants are one such example. The best pieces to embody the trend are straight-leg and bootcut styles, both of which have become heavily associated with the Gen Z-driven mom jeans trend.
As Nicoleta said in one of her many videos, “If you don’t have at least one cashmere sweater, what are you going to wear on your porch when you drink your morning coffee and watch the waves roll in?” Indeed, this is a garment that calls to mind Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) in Grace and Frankie as much as it does Barry. It’s such staple in coastal grandmother style that you might even remember Jack Nicholson’s character badgering Barry for so loyally relying on turtlenecks, even in the summer.
Have you ever noticed how few times a character’s shoes are shown on-screen? Still, it seems safe to say that if filmmakers did clue viewers in, they’d find characters like Mary Louise Wright (Meryl Streep) from Big Little Lies wearing them loyally. After all, they check so many boxes. They’re plush and comfortable, polished, and extremely versatile.
A Hat (Preferably Of The Bucket Variety)
Who is the quintessential coastal grandmother without her bucket hat? For reference, Barry wore this accessory often, to the beach and to run errands about town. And in any case, it’s intuitive that true coastal grandmothers are well-aware that the sun is an enemy to the skin, what with all of the time they spend beachside, and will cover up in any way they can.
A coastal grandmother doesn’t care for thong bodysuits or cross-fit training. She likes heirloom tomatoes and breathable daywear. Of course, nothing says “breezy” quite like a pair of linen pants or shorts. Since this mindset is not about conforming to hetero male expectations of female beauty, linen bottoms are a great way to achieve the levels of comfort, chicness, and relaxed sophistication upon which it’s based. Go full-force with a matching top, as shown above.
A Woven Tote Bag
For the full coastal grandmother look, take a woven tote bag to the local farmers’ market or carry one to hold the fruit from your nearest community garden. If you fancy yourself more of a beach-goer, use it to hold your reading material and more. Whatever the activity, the accessory will offer you the casual elegance that a true coastal grandmothers emanates.