No Grandkids Required: Embracing the ‘Grandma’ Aesthetic in Modern Fashion

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Celia Cooksey

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Coastal Grandma look, a fashion trend exemplified by the timeless works of Nancy Meyers and embraced by women of all ages, with no actual grandchildren required to rock this style.

In recent years, Gen Z has wholeheartedly embraced the “grandma” style, bidding farewell to painful heels for sneakers and welcoming a practical and comfortable approach to fashion. This trend has ushered in a clean-girl aesthetic that radiates both ease and elegance.

Hallie Spradin, a trend forecaster at Fashion Snoops, observes that the embrace of grandmother-influenced clothing is more than just a passing phase. “The movement also feels like an evolution of ‘normcore’ that has moved beyond just ugly sneakers and dad caps, but now includes items like grandpa trousers and hand-knit sweaters,” she said.

It could be argued that the fashion industry took cues from the interior design world, as Grand-millennial housewares like caning, wicker, toile, ruffles, and embroidered linens started trending in 2019. Still going strong a few years later, you can see the trend exemplified in TikTokers like Clare Sullivan, who have gained millions of fans by executing this specific style. One reason so many lean toward this style is that it is easy to thrift, a sustainable and economical choice for a generation caught between recessions.

Embracing the Coastal Grandma style is surprisingly simple. Think chic button-downs, linen pants, and timeless blue and white stripes — classic looks at home on any New England beach. This style’s versatility is one of its most attractive features; it flatters almost all body types while remaining comfortable and on-trend.

The trick to make the Coastal Grandma modern and chic is to take it beyond just the basics. A tongue-in-cheek custom monogram on the classic L.L. Bean Boat and Tote gives you the edge you need. The iconic sweater featured on Taylor Swift’s Foklore album creates almost an entire subcategory of chic “grandma” dressing, and a staple piece for those who want to be on the Swiftie trend simultaneously.

In essence, the Coastal Grandma look represents a fusion of comfort, sustainability, and enduring style. It’s a rebellion against the discomfort of high heels and impractical fashion choices, opting instead for items that prioritize ease of wear without sacrificing elegance. It’s a nod to the past, as evidenced by the resurgence of hand-knit sweaters and classic patterns, yet it’s firmly rooted in the present, with influencers showcasing how this style can be both chic and practical. Moreover, it’s a nod to thriftiness and sustainability, offering a reprieve from the excesses of fast fashion.

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