The 'Coastal Grandmother Style' - What It Is and How To Get It

When we first heard the phrase “Coastal Grandmother” used to describe a trending style, we kind of chuckled and moved on. Then it continued to pop into our feeds on a daily basis and the WSJ story (The ‘Coastal Grandmother’ Rises in All Her White-Linen Glory) prompted us to research more and share a blog post on this hot topic so you can decide for yourself if it resonates with you.

You may be asking yourself (as we certainly did, too):

  • Are we coastal grandmothers?
  • How long has this been around?

We needed to know more. Since the term originated on TikTok, a call to Mary’s daughter provided immediate answers. Turns out, she had just heard of it within the last week as well and she agreed with our initial hunch that it wasn’t a bad thing but more an aesthetic. A sister discussion determined that this style and aesthetic feels very relatable to Mary and Cindy, but not so much to Jill. (Our sister Cindy will share more below.)

What is a Coastal Grandmother?

Tik Tok creator, Lex Nicoleta, coined the term and explains, that a coastal grandmother is “a successful woman who creates a beautiful life for herself” by “embodying elements of coastal living and homemaking,”  So essentially age is not a determining factor and you don’t have to be a grandma either! Nicoleta references the neutral, laid-back wardrobe that Diane Keaton’s character, Erica Barry wears throughout Something’s Gotta Give. She also highlights the styles of Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, and Oprah Winfrey as “Coastal Grandmother.” 

Coastal Grandmother Style

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To achieve the Coastal Grandmother aesthetic, we had some immediate ideas and also had fun perusing online options. You probably have a few things already in your closet! If not, and this vibe appeals to your style, here’s a great start:

Ten Coastal Grandmother Key Pieces

Buttonfront Shirt

There's nothing that captures the essence of summer and now we know, the Coastal Grandmother aesthetic, quite as well as a button-front shirt, and our top pick is this linen one from J.Crew. Mary also owns this longer version that can be worn countless ways: a beach cover-up, layered as a "topper" over your outfit, or tied at the waist as you'll see in the Idea Pin at the bottom. Apparently, Oprah's favorite is a striped cotton stretch by AYR. We also love this cotton option and short sleeve style.

Cashmere Sweater

When the temps dip, you're going to need a warm layer and our favorite cashmere sweater is from Jenni Kayne whose entire brand embodies the C. G. (coastal Grandmother) vibe. It's a splurge but we can attest that the excellent quality of this sweater shows in its durability and the drape and coziness factors also make it the irresistible sweater you'll always reach for first. It's also available in cotton, here

Tank

A tank always comes in handy worn alone or layered under your button-front top, sweater or dress. We're sharing this one but also really like this one, which is available in many colors.

Linen or Cotton Dress

A cotton or linen dress completely embraces the lifestyle we're talking about and this one is a favorite that we featured last year. We're happy to see it available again this year! For sizing reference, Mary has the regular xs because she wanted a little extra length than what was offered in the petite size. This dress can be worn with sandals and sneakers, making it your go-to piece for warmer weather.

Linen Pants

A great pair of linen pants can be a challenge to find we added these to our cart after reading all the excellent reviews! Two other recent purchases that we've loved are this pair and this pair. The easy, breezy feel of linen pants really encapsulates the coastal vibe and feel of this style.

Straight Leg White Denim

A perfect pair of straight leg, white, or cream denim is something you'll reach for again and again to achieve a monochromatic look with all your neutral tops! We wrote a blog post about our favorites this season. Mary owns this pair and Jill recently purchased this pair. No matter what your style, we view white denim as a staple piece for any wardrobe. You can trust that our recommendations are tried and true because we know white denim is really hard to find.

Bucket or Straw Hat 

Sun protection is ultra important whether you're on a coast or landlocked, and what better way to achieve this than with a C.G. hat of choice. This bestseller has lots of great reviews. Another favorite is this one that Mary is wearing in the Idea Pin below. Both are easy to pack or carry along and a must-have for finishing off the C.G. style. 

Sunglasses

A classic pair of sunglasses is the perfect accessory to complete your look. This is a pair we love and so do many of our clients. If you haven't invested in nicer pair of sunglasses, we highly recommend treating yourself. You'll appreciate the quality and style over and over. Sunglasses are a great item to consider cost per wear!

Flat Sandals

Comfortable flat sandals are key and will look good from the farmer's market to the beach. This versatile, neutral pair is both chic and stylish, pulling the C.G. look together all the way to your toes. Of course, at some point you'll need a chic pair of sneakers too and we rounded up our favorites for you here.

 

Straw Tote

We found the perfect straw tote with a very affordable price tag. This size will work well for daily errands as well as a stroll to the beach. Toss in your water bottle, bucket hat, sunscreen, and beach read and you're ready to live your best life.

Perspective from the Hippest Grandmother We Know

When I found out in early 2020 that I was going to be a grandma, I was, of course, elated! My life has been focused a lot on babies: I’ve raised three of my own children and owned a business where I got to teach toddlers how to do forward rolls, among other fun activities! So, again, how very exciting to think another baby was going to join our family!

The only little “blip on the radar” was the mental hurdle of being a “grandma”. I don’t know why, exactly, since neither of my grandmas were what I would classify as dowdy or frumpy. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that my maternal grandma’s sense of style has been an internal influence on both of my sisters and myself – picture matching handbags and shoes with every outfit, coupled with accessories for every occasion!

I knew I would be an active, hands-on grandma and once Blake arrived I happily jumped right in and all thoughts of frumpiness went flying out the door. I also decided that he would call me Nonna  -  a nod to my Italian heritage. The pandemic was, however, in its own infancy and so my go-to outfits were what I have lovingly referred to as Daytime Jammies: Lululemon and Athleta athleisure wear. Nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t love to be comfy?!

As the months went by and the world finally started to open up a little bit more, it just so happened to coincide with the sale of my business and this pushed me to think a little more about not wearing athleisure wear all the time. 

I found myself still wanting comfort, though, with a touch of “mature” classiness, and to me, that meant cashmere (even though I will always carry on my love affair with spandex). I’ve always tried to invest in a nice cashmere sweater (or two, let’s be honest) each winter, and this year I found a dreamy creamy one in a local shop in my hometown. And then with a trip to Mexico and Florida planned, I immediately went to a couple of linen pieces I already owned to build some fun outfits around … a loose flowy pair of pants and a hot pink blouse!

So imagine my surprise when I was talking to Mary on the phone earlier this week and she asked if I had ever heard of the term “Coastal Grandmother”? I had not. 

As Mary enlightened me on what this term meant, I was nodding my head Yes to each item she ticked off that qualifies you as a “Coastal Grandma”! My first response was, “Like Diane Keaton in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’!” YES!! She said I hit the nail on the head.

Admittedly,  I was a little miffed that it wasn’t ME who had glommed onto this fabulous, attainable, stylish trend and, in reality, lifestyle and coined the term myself! My next thought was, “Well, if I have to be a Grandma, this is the kind I want to be!

Let it now be publically known that I am fully embracing being a Coastal Grandma. I’m sure there are lots of you that are already subconsciously a C.G. (see, I’m even throwing in the lingo now!) and this blog will help you attain full status!

Thanks for reading and we’d love to know - whether you’re landlocked or on a coast, whether you're a grandmother or not,  what do you think of this Coastal Grandmother trend?

  

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