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Coastal grandmother heralds a new kind of hot girl summer—with fresh produce, strong cocktails, and light linens.
Take a sip of a fresh-squeezed mimosa as we learn about the coastal grandmother aesthetic. The phrase, which has come to prominence on TikTok and Instagram, refers to the crisp, monied, perennially summertime lifestyle of a beautiful older woman in a Nancy Meyers movie or an Eileen Fisher photo shoot. A coastal grandmother doesn’t care for thong bodysuits or ketamine. She likes heirloom tomatoes and going to bed early.
To understand the coastal grandmother, picture its opposite: the grimy style of Euphoria, with its tight fabrics, facial embellishments, hamster-size purses, and sheen of sweat, cum, sebum, and gasoline. Well! That’s alright for a young person. But some of us want nine solid hours of sleep in a room with the golden trifecta: a humidifier, an air purifier, and a diffuser. Those of us who were kids of the ’80s and ’90, raised on rom-coms and having now reached an age where our sexual arousal is directly tied to real estate listings, have found solace in the teak and linen world of the coastal grandmother.
Being a coastal grandmother means wearing loose, breathable fabrics and doing strength training by shifting a full glass of Sauvignon Blanc from hand to hand. It means shelling peas on a chaise longue, or getting up at six to drink coffee with local cream in the still, cool promise of the morning. Coastal grandmother is not about conforming to male heterosexual expectations of female beauty. It is about being able to spend north of $70 on a single unscented pillar candle. Or, at least, cosplaying as someone who has money to spend on simple, good things. It is understated, wealthy-person dress up.
Lex Nicoleta, 26, popularized the term on TikTok. She tells Glamour that the coastal grandmother aesthetic is not an identity restricted to those born on a sloop or near a picturesque lighthouse. “You can be a coastal grandmother whether or not you live by the coast, and whether or not you’re a grandmother,” she explains.
She, a millennial living far from the salt air in inland California, is neither. And men can be coastal grandfathers. (Nicoleta points to Stanley Tucci as an example.) Coastal grandmother is not exclusive or elitist, she argues. It’s a style that attracts people of “all different ages, genders, races.” Imagine a little wooden gate on a stone pathway that leads to a seaside cottage. Now imagine the gate flung wide open. “It’s not like, ‘This wouldn’t apply to someone like you.’ It’s very, ‘Come one, come all, and be a part of it.’”
Since Nicoleta started preaching the gospel of gran on TikTok, the term has gained traction with the many women in the great pantheon of coastal grandmothers. Diane Keaton posted a tribute video to the concept. Nancy Meyers shared an article that noted that “coastal grandmother” videos have been viewed a billion times on TikTok. The screenwriter joked, “That’s a lot of views for a pair of khaki pants, a GAP sweater, and a bucket hat!” Anne Hathaway shared a photo of herself in head-to-toe coastal grandmother apparel, captioning the post, “I have been ready for #coastalgrandmother chic since before TikTok was born. May this moment never end.”
Whether we welcome it or not, coastal grandmother has its well-moisturized hands on us. The great accusation leveled against TikTok trends is that they’re just that—they exist only in fierce online micro bubbles and don’t deserve media scrutiny. But there’s decent evidence that the thing TikTok calls coastal grandmother exists by other names outside of our phones. In fashion, we’ve seen versions of the coastal grandmother style trending for a long time—think of Hailey Bieber with her untucked oversized oxford shirts and peeking bra. Think of the “big pants” trend.