I’m not on TikTok very much, and was traveling in April, so I missed out on the initial splash of what’s being called the “coastal grandmother” trend. But I’ve always loved that aesthetic, and find it timeless rather than trendy. When it comes to coastal grandmother style, I’m on board!
bandana (similar) | sweater | necklace | bag | jeans (similar) | sneakers (similar)
Above, my own version of “coastal,” from last summer in Big Sur.
My only quibble is the name. I realize that yes, it’s mainly been younger women who launched and promote this “trend.” But I always bristle at the tendency to use “grandmother” or “gran” as shorthand for any woman over 50. It’s long been a peeve of mine, our culture’s insistence on defining women by their familial relationships. /rant That said…
So what IS coastal grandmother style? It encompasses clothing, food, and decor. In clothing, it’s often exemplified by Diane Keaton’s character in Something’s Gotta Give: simple light neutrals* in natural fabrics. Comfortable, casual, unfussy, and relaxed but not sloppy. Maybe throw in a bucket hat for good measure. 😉
*If you are a cool season, your light neutrals will also be cool: white, gray, silver, light blue. Warm season light neutrals can include: cream, ivory, tan, warm beige. Denim can also function as a neutral, though the lighter icy washes are best for those in cool seasons.
Diane Keaton posted this video on her Instagram; you have to love her sense of humor…
Brands like Jenni Kayne, Eileen Fisher, and Vince have built their lines around versions of this aesthetic. But even though CG hints at “stealth wealth,” there are lots of affordable options available to get the coastal grandmother look.
Affordable building blocks of coastal grandmother style
This look is basics-centric, but doesn’t have to be generic or boring. Look for fabrics with some texture, or pieces with subtle but interesting design details. Avoid fabrics that are either too stiff or too dish-raggy. (A little fluidity is fine, just avoid fabrics that look and feel limp & lifeless). Here are a few of my picks:
Comfortable trousers. You can go cropped or full-length, slim or wide leg, depending on your style and preferences. Avoid anything too snug; you want to look and feel comfortable. These chinos are a nice middle-of-the-road option, available in 3 colors, sizes 23-37, and in Petite and Tall lengths.
Another option, these seaside linen pants, which are also available in several colors and a range of sizes and lengths.
If you prefer skirts to pants, again think “ease of movement,” and opt for solid, simpler styles. Linen midi skirt.
I’m a big fan of linen tees, and just picked up a couple of these. (They are roomy; I went with XS.) A good selection of neutrals and colors, sizes XX-Small to 3X. And there’s a v-neck option too!
If you prefer a cotton tee (or just one that’s more opaque), these Everlane tees are really good. Several colors, and available in sizes XX-Small to XX-Large (20). This style is shorter, which is great for us Petites, but if you prefer a longer style, you might like this one. Here’s a similar style in a v-neck.
A relaxed linen shirt can be worn many ways, and provides a bit of coverage and sun protection. This one is available in several colors, sizes 00-16. I think rumples and creases add character to linen, but if they bother you, here are some no-iron options.
No CG wardrobe would be complete without a lightweight, beachy sweater or two. This cotton fisherman sweater is budget-friendly and soft. Sizes XS to XL (16).
This beachy cotton-linen cardigan is light enough to tie over your shoulders during the day, and perfect to throw on when those cool ocean breezes pick up in the evening. I just came home with one of these, in size XS. This khaki color is warm enough for Springs and Autumns. Sizes XX-Small to 3X.
I like the look of this packable cotton-linen sun hat, which seems to have enough of a brim to actually keep the sun off the face. It’s available in 2 sizes, and looks to be adjustable too.
Espadrilles suit the coastal grandmother aesthetic so well, and who can say no to a dry martini? 🍸
A practical cotton bandana can be worn as a kerchief or head scarf, around a pony tail, or as a hat band. I have several of these, and wear them frequently!
And a unique upcycled canvas zip-top tote…large enough to be practical, but not so large as to be unwieldy.
Coastal Grandmother that so funny. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Diane Keaton’s outfits in Something’s Gotta Give. Ever since I saw the movie in 2003 I’ve attempted to recreate her outfits. Once a long time ago I had an off white cardigan, purchases from the Gap, like the one she wore on the beach. I got a stain on it and have never been able to replace it-and have been looking ever since.
More rants please! Loved it!
It’s actually New England preppie, as far as I’m concerned, and the look goes waaay back. After all, LL Bean was founded in 1912!
LOVE this post, thank you Susan!
I don’t think it is my style. I am too extravert for that and I hate bucket hats. Just my thing; do ‘t take any notice haha.
I used to love to pair a white shirt with cream or khaki pants but now that I’m sticking to my tonal warm palette I have ditched the white tops. I realize I can reverse the to white pants with a warm pale neutral top. I do love the looks of the J Crew Khaki cardi. How’s the length on you? I’m 5’3″ and have stopped shopping at Chicos as all their tops are like tunics on me. I wear a S or XS top at J Jill as their cut is very oversized. I’m guessing if you wear a XS in this a S would work for me.
Hi Kathie, I’m 5’1″ and the cardigan hits me just above mid-thigh.
Diane Keaton and Katherine Hepburn … there could never be two more ungrandmotherly types, and if I had one quarter of the style of either of them, I’d be a happy lady the rest of my life!!
Forget what the TikTok sloppy generation is saying. Frankly I don’t care what they say. It is irrelevant. The style is a timeless costal look. I add a pop of color to the neutrals as it works better for me. One of my favorite movies and Love Diana Keaton.
Susan — What a terrific roundup of perfect-for-summer clothes, whether you consider yourself a CG or not! I would also suggest looking at Quince (onequince.com) as another good source of reasonably priced, nice quality linen basics for warm weather.
I love this look. I always have and have tried to find clothes that fit in this category. I do struggle with what style looks best on me but I think this is me that fits me. Thanks for the ideas and links. I’m with you not sure about “coastal grandma “ I’m trying to think of an alternative name. I have to think about that for awhile.
I think we should be more specific- LA West side/Malibu over 50 with boho avoidance You can definitely find the Boho version shopping at farmers markets in SoCal. In the Bay Area, we would need a cashmere hoodie
Please rant more – us over 60 women are the target of many ageist/sexist micro/macro aggressions!
Love the looks!
Cashmere hoodie *and* down vest, all summer long.
Very sincerely yours, Nancy in Oakland
I understand taking offense at the name, but I have been reading about it for a while, and the grandmother in the description is what caught my attention and caused me to take a look at it. I recognize that many women do resent being tagged as a grandmother if they are over 50. But, not all of us mind the tag–while understanding why others do.
I bought the J crew Khaki cardigan a few weeks ago. It’s perfect! Thank you for clarifying the CG look. Fortunately, my soft autumn colors go with the look. I have read your blog for years and have always enjoyed it. But now….you are my number one blog to read every morning as you are nailing it! Thank you!!!
Great roundup of CG fashion suggestions. Loved the Southern Living article on CG, which of course claims the fashion genre is perfectly Southern. LOL.
I also disliked the “grandmother” portion of this trend’s title, even though I am a grandmother and live a mile from the coast. Will we see a “mountain grandpa” trend? Wait! I think that already exists. As to the style, I guess the challenge for me is making it look put together rather than PJ-like.
Thanks for this and I agree we should all be so lucky to look as stylish as Diane Keaton – she always was a fashion icon and always will be.
I have a problem with wearing white tee shirts as I invariably spill my tea on them. Also the neck area just gets grubby from my sunscreen and skin oils. I have started buying men’s white tees in a pkg. of 3 instead as they are so reasonable. I also resort to cutting off the tea stain if it is on the neck ribbing.
Maybe some younger women should consider wearing the CG look and stop with the bare midriffs, revealing bra straps, muffin tops, and shorts with their butt cheeks hanging out.
I love the coastal grandmother look and I actually don’t mind the fact that “grandmother” is being associated with “stylish” and “trendy” for a change.
I am a grandmother and love it…one of the benefits of getting older. Have always dressed this casual preppy style and I am 77…I am what they call a winter so stay far away from anything beige…my neutrals are white, black, grey, navy, and icy blues,
Love this style! Maybe should be Coastal Chic or Elegant Easy Coastal, or Classic Coastal …. I think any of the terms apply! Thanks for sharing options to achieve this carefree and cool look, Susan!!
Great minds think alike! I just thought of the term, Coastal Chic, too. Love that one.
Maybe the fashion industry needs to be reminded that some women who wish to be a grandmother may never have that opportunity for many reasons.
I like Coastal Chic for a new name.
Why is it insulting to women to use the word “grandmother”? I am one, and my peeps are the joy of my life.
Hi Kay, it’s not that it’s insulting to call someone a grandmother within that specific context. And I’m sure it’s a delightful thing to be. What I object to is using the term “grandmother” or “gran” as shorthand for any woman over 50. (Or using Mother or Mom as a descriptor when it has nothing to do with what the woman is being recognized for.) You don’t see the same thing happening with men e.g. “10 Dads who are changing the tech field” when their being dads has nothing to do with the context.
Thanks for this – CONTEXT is everything! Appearance and age are irrelevant in a professional or other contexts not specifically relevant to the subject matter under discussion!
This style isn’t just coastal, as one commenter posted above – it’s all over! I live in Chicago. There are lakes and rivers all over the Midwest, lake houses, cottages, boat houses and clubs, you name it. This is a comfortable, chic way of dressing, especially in warm weather. Dark clothing in warm weather stifles me so I love these light neutrals and breathable fabrics! Relaxed summer chic? There’s got to be a better name than “coastal granny/grandmother”!
Such a pretty and timeless look that works for any woman. I’ve always loved it. The CG name does not bother me (I think it’s funny). The style is really that of upper crust New England women of means, of a certain age, who own fabulous beach homes fondly called cottages. And yes, it does apply to all manner and age of beach-dwelling women, whether ocean or lake. (And there are grandpa sweaters and grandpa hats.)
Exactly what I was thinking-an ageless style peculiar to those relaxed-paced women who have retired—or found a way (man) to not have to work for a living.
Most over 50’s still do.
And the Hamptons, perhaps?
I love the Jenni Kanye fisherman sweater, fortunately easy to find on eBay, Poshmark, the Real Real, but greatly dislike the look, on me, especially the bucket hat, of what seems to me to be Southern California style.
CG? This is the style I’ve been gravitating towards since I was 17 and a fan of Katherine Hepburn! In fact I’ve already purchased some of these exact pieces. Whatever they want to call it, bring it on. Such a relief after sooo much (to me) tacky tightness.
Love the look but as a grandmother to seven there is no way I would wear these colours when they are around! They love to share – sauce, chocolate, jam, squashed flowers, creatures from the garden, paint, felt tip pens… I go for dark colours, patterned fabric and when all else fails, a plastic apron. Love my little people dearly but realistic about the mess. Perhaps I could be a coastal grandmother when they are not around?
I am a grandma and also own a splendid beach house (cottage). The CG look is ok but can be overwhelming on a short figure and is not terribly practical…seems like more of a wannabe thing. It doesn’t get that hot in my area of the North Atlantic so jeans and raincoats and runners make more sense in gale force wind & rain. More tugboat Annie than Annie Hall:) I just spilled something on my white linen Eddy Bauer shirt after my grandson wiped a grubby hand on it…yup impractical. I own a fancy $$ straw hat (kaminski) but find my hemp Tilley more wearable on a windy beach chasing the ubiquitous lab or grubby grandchildren. Yes, my cashmere gets more wear there than it does at home but I never wear my diamond rings. Reality is often very different from the romantic Hollywood fantasy. We don’t swan about ‘town’ à la the Barefoot Contessa or Martha Stewart patronizing the local purveyors of comestibles nor do most of us guzzle white wine daily. (my delightful cottage neighbours would horrified to know that we are now categorized as CG)
Katharine Hepburn would have clocked anybody who referred to her or her personal style as a coastal grandma. Classic dame? Maybe!
There’s a picture of Anne Hathaway on Instagram in CG. She looks wonderful. Wasn’t Erica Berry-which this style is based on-an accomplished playwright? Based on her character this style is simple, casual and elegant. It’s not a trend or fad it’s just dressing nicely. For me it’s a nice reprieve from all the bright colors. I like to dress quietly so this style resonates with me in both fashion and home and has since I first saw the movie almost 20 years ago. In my closet there’s been some version of the black dress DK wore on her date with Keanu Reeves.
Whatever you call this look, it’s been my favorite style for decades. What I would love to know is how you would describe it in terms of the Red Leopard style personalities.
When it comes to style, I avoid the adjectives “grandmother” and “preppy”.
Coastal grandmother! haha- that’s so me! Who knew? I did some serious shopping off of this post today…I was looking for a couple sweaters just like the ones you showed in here! Good Timing!! Thank you!
I like the aesthetic though not the light colors because I’d be living in the laundry room! Maybe the tan trousers and a warmer sun hat for the NorCal beaches.