By the Sea: The Coastal Grandmother Aesthetic

There was a time when fashion tastes were dictated by the discerning tastes, exacting standards, and fashion industry connections of powerful editors like Vogue’s Anna Wintour. However, with the rise of social media, Millennials and Gen Z’ers have become their own taste-makers. On platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram, users create and curate fashion aesthetics based around fanciful, escapist concepts. Especially during the dawn of the COVID 19 global pandemic, fashion aesthetics became a creative buffer that gave content creators and followers alike an outlet for aspirational fantasy.

The last two years have seen the rise of Dark Academia, Cottagecore, and Regencycore, drawing from pop culture like literature, film, music, and popular streaming shows like Bridgerton. 2022 has seen the rise of the aesthetic ‘Coastal Grandmother’, which has many adherents on Tik Tok.

The Rise of Coastal Grandmother

Tik Tok influencer Lex Nicoleta went viral in March explaining the aesthetic. ‘Coastal Grandmother’ is inspired by the heroines of romantic comedies by Nancy Myers, especially Diane Keaton’s role in Something’s Gotta Give and Meryl Streep’s in It’s Complicated. Both characters are retirement age, single, and live in prosperous but aesthetically cozy surroundings on the California coast. The aesthetic glorifies the imagined lifestyle, and wardrobe of these characters: trips to farmer’s markets, baking, wine tasting, strolls along the beach, and living in comfortably decorated cottages facing the rolling waves of the Pacific. Recommended fashion staples draw on the timeless basic separates of American fashion staples like Ralph Lauren and The Gap. The aesthetic calls for flowing, linen tunics, khaki pants, and button down blouses.

A Cozy Pace of Life

Despite being called ‘Coastal Grandmother’, the aesthetic embraces childless women, younger women, and even men. It speaks to anyone who admires the cozier pace of life that Nancy Myers’s heroines are able to embrace because of their affluent retirements: drinking coffee while listening to mellow music, buying fresh cut flowers and herbs at a market, sipping white wine while listening to the ocean’s waves, and above all having leisure time, dressing and living in comfort.

Although the ‘Coastal Grandmother’ embraces all ages, its popularity is indicative that the Millennial and Gen Z generations are embracing the concept of aging with relish, despite the financial perils they face in getting older.  For Millennials and Gen Z’ers, who grapple with a perpetually troubled economy and for whom a comfortable retirement and owning their own home one day are dreams constantly in flux, the easy breezy beach vibes of the ‘Coastal Grandmother’ aesthetic are a welcome escape by the sea.

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