Raid your nan’s wardrobe and dig out your straw hat because ‘Coastal Grandma’ is this summer’s aesthetic
Not long ago, an outfit ‘aging you’ was considered a fate worse than death. But this summer, looking like your grandma might make you the trendiest kid on the block (or seafront).
If I told you to imagine what all the hot young things might be wearing this summer, you’d be forgiven for conjuring up images of tiny hot pants and even tinier crop tops, à la the current revival of indie sleaze. While you might not be completely wrong, you wouldn’t be completely right either. Enter: the current counter-trend circulating social media, ‘Coastal Grandma’.
To define the term, let’s turn to where (as always) it was first invented: TikTok. User Lexnicoleta claims to be the first to coin the phrase, defining it by an affinity for ‘Nancy Myers movies, coastal vibes, recipes and cooking, Ina Garten and cosy interiors’. Her seminal TikTok now has 2.3 million views and has spawned a hashtag with almost 60 million.
GRAN EXPLAINED #coastalgrandmother
In summary, ‘Coastal Grandma’ is all about channelling the look, lifestyle and lavish vibes of the sea-side grandmas who swanned onto our screen in movies like The Parent Trap and Something’s Gotta Give.
Those emulating the look might be found sipping a mid-afternoon sauvignon blanc on a patio that overlooks the beach. They might be picking peonies to adorn the well-loved guest bedroom. They could be narrowly avoiding dipping their linen shirts in some home-made raspberry compote as they arrange an impromptu dinner party. They absolutely will be, however, doing these things with a carefree laugh and Natalie Cole’s ‘This Will Be (an everlasting love)’ playing.
While the trend might immediately seem to notably reject the expectations of a youthful, party-goer lifestyle that teens might be expected to adhere to, the beady-eyed trend watchers among us will note its similarity to the trend that took over the lock-down era. The ‘That Girl’ aesthetic still reigns supreme as the most talked about trend of the last few years, only peaking in popularity as a search term in January of this year.
As you might remember, ‘That girl’ is all about getting up at 5am, drinking green juice and working out in a matching set all in the name of self-betterment. Like ‘Coastal Grandma’, she’s a rejection of messy adolescent, and an embrace of order, personal growth and the finer things in life.
Effectively an aged-up ‘That girl’, the ‘Coastal Grandma’ not only rejects the messiness of life but escapes it completely. The beach setting, the movie character inspirations, the upbeat soundtrack – all of the core tenants of being a ‘Coastal Grandma’ demand a good dose of escapism.
More sneakily, wealth is also unsaid momentum behind the ‘Coastal Grandma’ look. I mean, le cruesets and beach-view villas don’t come cheap. And again, just like ‘That Girl’, the money that fuels the aesthetic is meant to be an unmentioned backdrop. Far from overly flashy, both looks value the effortlessness with which the lifestyle is embodied with as much as the lifestyle itself.
What it all boils down to is this: young people are more drawn to the clean, classy and wealthy aesthetics than ever before. The ‘Coastal Grandma’, the latest in a set of trends to promote a lifestyle that is aspirational at best and completely inaccessible at worst. But in an age that both tells you to ‘fake it till you make it’, it’s hard to blame Gen-Z for leaning into acting out an identity that they won’t actually be able to embody for at least another 50 years.
Words by Kate Bowie