Here’s my try-on of a summer capsule wardrobe for the unreliable British weather.
The name ‘Coastal Grandmother’ or ‘Coastal Grandma’ was originally made popular via TikTok by Lex Nicoleta who started a sensation last year. She referenced films by Nancy Meyers and actors such as Diane Keaton to explain the look.
The ‘original’ coastal grandmother look is a romantic vision of well-to-do older women, retired to elegant New England seaside homes, spending their days beachcombing and relaxing with friends. They are wearing mainly white, cream and sand linen wide-cut easy-to-wear outfits.
Adding blues and greens to the bright whites
I’ve adapted this look to a British Coastal Grandmother style.
I’ve kept the emphasis on natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and denim. But I’ve enlarged the color palette. Here in Britain the seaside is an ever-changing mix of blues and greens against the pebbles and sand of the shoreline. From the pale blue of an early morning summer sky to the deeper greens of the sea when the wind gets up and the rain drifts in.
French coastal style
If you look at my try-on of French chic earlier this year you’ll get the French coastal look. It references the French Navy rather than the sea or the beach. So it’s a smart, clean-cut structured style based on a palette of navy, white, tan and added gold, for e.g. buttons. The striped sweaters and tees are based on what sailors used to wear. For me it conjures up sailing holidays in a brilliantly blue Mediterranean Sea.
The New England coastal grandmother look
New England coastal tends to emphasize crisp whiteness. Perhaps it’s a reminder of white clouds on a sunny day. Or just a general pointer towards a life lived in clean, fresh interiors where ironing is expected daily. For me, this style lies between classic and boho.
My idea of British coastal is still mainly linen but not worn as crisp as in New England! Together with the moody blues and greens of our sea it is more casual than smart and more boho than classic.
The American and the English coastal styles work very well for the older silhouette. Compared to our younger selves most of us have a lower bust, a thicker waist and heavier legs – in general. These breezy outfits minimize these changes.
And these styles are modest as befits a nice grannie. No cleavage on show, no short dresses. Just right for women of 60 and over.
How to get the British Coastal Grandmother look
Start with white.
White linen pants, cut wide and shortish so our hems don’t get dirty when strolling on the beach, are an ideal base for this coastal wardrobe.
Add slides in cream. We are not in strappy sandal land here. Flat comfortable slide sandals work with the wide silhouette and are a great mercy to swelling feet on a hot day.
Add an unstructured jacket
This gives that ‘I spent my morning in my pottery studio’ vibe. The straight hem and the large useful pockets create the look. A blazer is too urban. Three-quarter sleeves keep the wide, breezy silhouette on trend. And we older women adore three-quarter sleeves!
Plenty of tee shirts
Choose slightly greyed-out colors that match the sea, the rocks, the sky and the sand. I already had the deep green and the sand tee. Tops need to be casual not waisted or fitted or low-necked. Coastal grandmother, whether American or British, is not sexy or curvaceous. She is slightly androgynous.
Wear shorts if you dare
I’m sure Diane Keaton still has great legs but sadly many of us, myself included, hate to show our legs in the altogether. Fortunately British coastal grandmas have a pair of washed-out baggy shorts with those very useful pockets again. And they come to the knee. Because I can tell you at 74 what lies above is forever covered from view.
Rolled jeans or chinos evoke paddling in the waves
I find jeans a bit heavy for summer, even here in England. Cotton chinos are both cooler and more forgiving from the wider waist through the wider hip and thigh areas. They come in every color so I chose this murky mid green-blue pair.
You’ll need a sweater in a British summer
Choose a cotton, linen or fine wool sweater in your color palette that can go under your jacket and cardigan if the weather turns blowy or cool. Even in Cornwall, the southermost region of England, you can’t be sure a sunny morning won’t turn nippy after lunch.
An A-line linen dress
Not too short, not too long. Actually this will be the item you find hardest to find this year. Fashion is all about minis and floor-sweeping country wench looks. That’s a long way from coastal grannie. She likes a sensible but stylish frock with sleeves (of course). That way she’s not worrying about what her knees look like or what her upper arms are doing. She’s confident and effortlessly cool.
No wonder younger women are drawn to this style too.
I bought this Seasalt dress a size larger as I wanted it to swish around a bit.
A straw bag is both on trend this year and a perfect purse for grannie. But a canvas tote would be an alternative. Or just pack everything into those pockets.
I usually wear gold earrings or chains. But that’s too blingy for this style. So I chose a big chunky necklace in shades of sand and pebbles. And nothing else.
Add a cream or bright white canvas bucket hat to finish the look. My pale blue denim one is back home in France right now so I’ll be popping that on whenever I’m there.
Where to shop this look
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I know most of my readers are from the US. So you should probably first head over to J.Crew, Banana Republic or Eileen Fisher. They all have items that can be worn for the Coastal Grandmother style, especially the New England version. I’ve made some suggestions from these stores below. Affiliate links.
US retailers of coastal grandmother style
US links to British retailers of coastal grandmother style
I shopped for the tops, shorts and necklace at Poetry, a British retailer who specialises in natural fabrics and casual cool clothing. You’ll find lots of great items in the British Coastal colors and styles on the Poetry website.
The dress and the black and white linen pants are from Seasalt of Cornwall who sell across the world from their website. Seasalt design all their clothes and accessories with a coastal color palette. Browse their site – you’ll find natural fabrics, easy shapes, beautiful colors and gorgeous patterns. Seasalt (USA) affiliate links below.
The wide white linen pants are the subject of a try-on in a previous post. The same goes for the cream buckled slides. They’re from marksandspencer.com. M&S sell world-wide. We grannies here in GB just love M&S! M&S (USA) affiliates linkbelow.
UK links to Seasalt and M&S clothes
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