Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Coastal Grandmother

By now you've probably heard about what has considered "the hottest trend for summer" -- the coastal grandmother aesthetic. Who, or what, is a coastal grandmother you ask?   Well, just about anybody!  I'm not a grandmother yet (I'm looking at you Taylor and John) but I definitely have a bit of coastal grandmother in me!  

The coastal grandmother is all about seeking joy in the little things in life and having incredible taste. If you're a fan of Nancy Meyers movies—such as The Holiday and The Parent Trap remake—as well as breathable linen and Barefoot Dreams blankets, you could already be living the coastal grandmother aesthetic without realizing it.  The trend combines everything that gives off chic coastal vibes — from beachy and easy-to-wear clothing to cedar-shingled homes on the water, Ina Garten recipes and Nancy Meyers movies.

Leisurely walks in a sun-blocking hat, fresh flowers on the kitchen counter, Ina's rotisserie chicken recipe crisping in the oven (who am I kidding??  We all know I can't cook to save my life!), and going to bed early—these are marks of a "coastal grandmother," the trend currently sweeping across TikTok and Instagram. Really, it's more of a lifestyle than a trend, with Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give basically residing as the unofficial muse of the movement.  The phrase brings to mind images of relaxing days spent lounging on a chaise, crisp linen outfits and houses with expansive farmhouse-style kitchens. And, essentially, that's what it is. TikTok user @lexnicoleta, who has been credited with coining the term, said in a video that those who love coastal vibes, recipes and cooking, cozy interiors and more might fit the "coastal grandmother" aesthetic. And no, you don't have to be an actual grandmother to be a coastal one, "it's for anyone and everyone," she said.

She referenced the importance of "slowing down and taking time to enjoy the little things, like flipping through magazines and sipping tea on a Sunday morning or preparing a dinner with the day’s farmer's market finds."  Coastal grandma would approve of a nice California chardonnay or a Long Island rosé savored from simple wine glasses.

"That is the beautiful thing about it — it’s for everyone." Nicoleta also said she feels "passionate" about showcasing how women get better with age.  "We’re sold this bill of goods that says that we peak in our 20s, and then it’s downhill from there," she said.  "This is just simply not the case."

While there have been many valiant attempts to promote “coastal chic” as an alternative to coastal grandmother, @carlyvandyke (youngish; long hair whipped by sea breezes or a rotating fan) has said, “Essentially, I think it comes down to one very important thing. Coastal chic is the ‘cool girl’ version of coastal grandmother … Coastal-chic girls are kind of the girls that are drinking the white wine. And the cocktails. While the coastal grandmothers are drinking their tea, you know what I mean?”
No!  As Lex Nicoleta has repeatedly made clear, Coastal Grandmother drinks so much white wine, she’s a borderline alcoholic. (“Coastal grandmother has nothing to prove,” @monaehendrickson2 commented. “Coastal chic is still trying to impress their 5 Instagram followers.”)

Coastal grandmothers are those who are effortlessly stylish (but in a comfy way), have a put-together presence (without trying too hard), know how to be the best hostess (while never breaking a sweat), and appreciate the finer things (yet still feel approachable). It's also essential to note that you don't have to have grandchildren, nor live on the beach, to be a coastal grandmother. It applies to all ages and locales as long as the classic Superga sneaker fits. (It's the coastal grandmother shoe of choice and also happened to be favored by the late Princess Diana—and, more recently, Kate Middleton.)  Coastal grandmothers wear cashmere and linen, they love to garden, take leisurely walks on the beach when it's slightly windy, and sip white wine while reading on their wraparound front porch.  They cook fresh meals with goods they picked up at the farmers market in their open concept kitchens accessorized with neutral and natural elements like butcher block and rattan.

For those not lucky enough to live in a beach house with a big garden, you can still capture the spirit of the aesthetic by simply dressing for the role. "I would describe it as very neutral, classic staples in light shades ... it's very crisp, very clean," said New York City-based personal stylist Samantha Brown. "It's sort of like a nod to this timeless, moneyed — but not flashy — coastal grandma.

Coastal grandmothers wear neutral-colored chinos, capris so they can easily walk on the beach, cashmere everything (she can afford it), breezy linen, shirt dresses, white turtlenecks (even in Summer!), decorative scarves, classic button-down shirts, light-colored and comfortably sized denim, bucket hats, driving shoes, straw bags, totes, button-down cardigans (tied over the shoulders if it's warm), sun visors, and matching pajama sets (always).

Celebrity book lover Jenna Bush Hager described it as a "breezy beige feel" on The Today Show, and celebrity book-loving icon Oprah is known for this style as well. You can often see images of her reading in her garden with her dogs and in a sensible outfit on her social media pages.  According to personal stylist Christina Stein, stick to earthy tones, like blues, greens, creams, white, beige and light pinks. Essential pieces include cotton long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, cargo pants and hats. Brown added that things like white button-downs, jeans (but not the skinny versions), casual trousers and high-quality tees are other staples. Nicoleta too suggests that trend followers invest in a few staple items, including a white button-down shirt, a bucket hat, a white dress with a delicate silhouette, linen pants or shorts, a cozy sweatshirt, vintage sunglasses and a neutral-toned sandal.

Brown said that while the "coastal grandmother" aesthetic may appeal to a slightly older generation, it's also great for those who have become accustomed to the cozy and fuss-free outfits that made up the majority of our wardrobes over the last couple of years, but still want to look put-together. "It's a step above wearing leggings and a sweater, but it's still very, very easy," Brown said. "It almost comes back to that capsule wardrobe feeling, like really nice basics in neutral colors that can be easily interchanged with each other."
No longer bound by soccer or gymnastic schedules or casseroles or never-ending school drop-offs, the coastal grandmother is free to address new desires. Sleeping off tequila shots on the beach is a bad idea for so many reasons. (The sun exposure! The empty calories!) But the desire to wrap yourself in a cashmere throw and pull on some very soft pants is carnal. 

The reason the style is resonating with people, Nicoleta assumed, is because the public has taken the time to "slow down" ever since the coronavirus pandemic, while focusing on "what makes us truly happy."

A coastal grandmother's home is ideally located in a wealthy beach town in a place like the Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, or Newport.  It's likely to be made of wood shingles, and the interior design is crisp, clean, and neutral. Colors are beachy, like blue, and muted. Prints are rare, and often, stripes. Natural elements like straw and rattan are sprinkled throughout.  (you can swoon over the homes from Something's Gotta Give and It's Complicated on

Is coastal style all that new? Not really. Beachy, shore-inspired style has always been popular, but this current take is more modern and pared-down than in the past, and completely clear of theme-y kitsch-like shells, anchors, and whales. It's less "Ahoy, Matey" nautical prep, and more about cultivating an airy, effortless chic that's informal but polished.

To put yourself in the right mindset, envision the clear and cool natural light you encounter on an early morning walk on the beach. Coastal grandma-style has a duality: It's relaxed yet refined, casual but elevated. It conveys a laid-back luxury that's warm and inviting without being overtly cozy. The lines are clean, and the designs are unembellished and minimal.  

Whether you are ready to commit to coastal grandmother-style with a full room redo or simply wish to join in on the trend by adding a few elements to your existing decor, here's a cheat sheet to getting the look.

Coastal color is a range of subtle simplicity. Start with 50 shades of white, ivory, and cream, all mixed together. Then layer in neutral tones borrowed from nature—stone, sand, sea, and sky. Tan and beige, taupe and greige, and pale, watery blues. Introduce accent colors like deeper blues and shell pink with a very light hand. Use little to no pattern, and keep it simple and abstract if you do.

Home essentials to nail the vibe include a cozy kitchen, a thriving garden, a bowl of lemons and plenty of ginger jars, Nicoleta noted.  In a post on Instagram, tableware and décor brand even Lenox featured simplistic, porcelain bowls and captioned the photo, "Coastal grandmother is here to stay!"

For fabrics, natural fibers like cotton and linen are the go-to choice, from light, gauzy sheers to heavier twills and canvas. For accents, think touchable—chunky knits, nubby bouclés, maybe even some tailored fringe. Varied weaves of natural fibers like rattan, jute, sisal, raffia, and seagrass come into play for accessories, furniture, and rugs. Try adding seagrass baskets  to hold throw blankets or pillows. Woods take their cue from driftwood—light, bleached and whitewashed. Hardware in metals like brushed nickel keep the feeling soft and sophisticated.

For a low-lift-yet-uplifting interpretation of coastal grandma style, fill the air with a fragrance that follows the feeling. Candles poured in colorful beachy blue glass with scents like White Waves and Salted Sands hit the mark in more ways than one. Fragrance oils in scents like linen and sea spray release slowly over time via a diffuser; you can get a similar effect with scented wax cubes melted in a wax warmer.

Gauzy window coverings and rugs in real jute or faux natural fibers are a good way to ground the room with breezy color. A few carefully chosen coastal-inspired accessories can easily fit right into your home. Lush flowers, real or faux, always feel right. Arrange mounds of hydrangeas in a vase or bowl or peonies in a pitcher (all in white porcelain, of course). Treat a tabletop or sideboard to family photos in frames with rope or rattan details and pillar candles in clear glass hurricane holders. Toss a throw in a luxe knit like chenille and some new tactile pillows on a couch or chair—look for neat cotton fringe or substantial knits in a chunky or sweater style. Around the room, you could add a mirror in rustic wood or wicker, or weathered wood lamps with linen shades on end tables, or seagrass baskets for on-trend storage.

For the breeziest bedroom and bath, two words here: White. Cotton. The utter simplicity of coastal style calls for luxury of materials and texture. For towels, choose the plushest cotton you can find and while you're at it, swap out your shower curtain with a tone-on-tone white design. For sheets, go with a high thread count. To finish the look, update your bedframe with an upholstered linen headboard and add a cotton waffle blanket to the foot of the bed.

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