Style and Styling

Coastal Grandma Style Primer

Pick and Play!

Hello, Reader Dear!

I hope you are having a wonderful day. I’m typing after booster number two and don’t know how long I’ll be hanging in here. The last one did me a doozy. I’m hoping for a smoother ride this time…

I was doing a quick Q&A online the other evening in the Style Splash group and one of the ladies asked about the Coastal Grandma style phenomenon.

I might say phenomena, because there are myriad Costal Grandmas out there.

And CG style isn’t limited to grandmas.

All ages of women are rocking the Costal Grandma vibe! No AARP card required.

So what does Costal Grandma style look like?

I think of it as Elegant Chic or Classic meets super Relaxed. Imagine Diane Keaton visiting Frankie & Grace. The director Nancy Meyers is credited with cementing this casual luxe look in her movies, but it’s been around for generations. (Lauren Hutton, anyone?)

Think Hamptons, Mackinac Island, SoCal, Outer Banks. Lots of blue, white, grey and khaki. Loose, relaxed fits, luxe natural fibers, rolled up sleeves. Broken in but never worn out. Clean faces, sunscreen, simple jewelry. Comfortable shoes for sure. Easy hair.

Let’s mix and match to build a Costal Grandma look! Note: Costal Grandmas are not limited to the beach! We see them in the city, the suburbs and the mountains. She’s everywhere.

Choose a Bottom

In my closet, I have cropped white jeans and my frayed Levis. Imagine a pair of loose linen pants or khakis in the empty space next to the jeans. I don’t have those, hence the empty space! You can add an easy dress, shorts or a denim skirt here, too! Just stay in that sand, rock and beachy palette.

Choose a Top

I pulled a chambray tunic, my white cotton easy-fitting top and a tencel denim shirt. Tencel is super CG! It’s a soft, drapey natural fiber. If I had a sleeveless top to add, that would be fabulous! Roll the sleeves. She’s casual. Stripes are CG. Plaid? Less so. Gingham? For sure.

My loose white linen shirt would be here if it weren’t in the laundry!

Slip into Shoes

Comfort is KEY. Costal Grandma isn’t wearing anything that doesn’t feel good. Here’s what I had in my closet. You might choose driving shoes, alpargatas, Birks, a tailored slide or leather flip-flops. (Leave the rubber ones for the shower.) How about those Jack Rogers? They work, too!

Add Accessories

A bucket hat is the quintessential Costal Grandma headcovering, straw runs a close second. Keep the jewelry simple. Freshwater pearls, natural stones, choose the metal that loves you most, silver, gold or rose gold.

A bike with a basket would go well here, too!

Grab a Bag

A straw tote is perfect for the farmer’s market and the beach. I also pulled a blue leather bucket bag and a small crossbody. CG wants easy. I could also see her with the classic Longchamps Le Pliage, a great canvas tote or a cute net bag. Whatever she chooses, she’s not precious about it.

And a Topper

Because those ocean breezes can be chilly. A cashmere wrap, poncho or ruana fits right in here, too!

Shop Costal Grandma

You can find Costal Grandma vibe shopping everywhere from Old Navy and Target to Nordstrom! The Gap, J Jill, Coldwater Creek and Garnet Hill are super CG.

How About You?

Does the Costal Grandma vibe call to you? What elements? The colors? The fabrics? Fit? The shoes or accessories? If it doesn’t, what is missing? Do you think you could pull together a Costal Grandma look from what you own? (I bet you can!) What would your CG look recipe be? Do tell! I love to hear from you…

Stylishly yours,

PS: My Costal Grandma recipe might be White on White… But from this Pick and Play? White Jeans + Chambray Tunic + Grey Flatforms + Straw Hat + Grey Pashmina + Straw Tote. No other topper needed. No ocean breeze here, just humid and more humid. But I’ll look cool and breezy!


  • Kathleen McDermott

    The SOFTNESS of CG really appeals to me! So perfect for Summer in look and feel. Soft colors, soft fabrics, soft fit, soft purse, soft footwear, soft hat. And pastels (and soft heathered shades) are great for my soft summer coloring.

    • Liz K

      CG is ALL about the soft, Kathleen! Although many women have issues with the name the style has been given… How about you?

      • Kathleen McDermott

        Doesn’t bother me. Not sensitive or insecure about my age (68). Most young people have such terrible taste and sense of style. The lovely CG style could not be attributable to young people. Ladies my age know.

        • Liz K

          I’m not age sensitive either, Kathleen. I’m no arbiter of taste for the young (or for anyone as a matter of fact); I’m pretty sure my mother and grandmother were aghast at what I thought was style when I was young. I’m all about style reflecting who you are; if it does, that makes me happy!

          • Kathleen McDermott

            Can’t agree. I look at the young ladies in my own family – 40 and under, for reference. Most wear colors that are drab and horribly unflattering – colors not in their color season, and really not pretty for anyone. (Think stagnant pond colors. Colors no one ever picks for a bridal party.) Their clothing is ill-fitting, often inappropriate for the situation, or just downright sloppy and unkempt. It looks like they don’t have mirrors and don’t really care how they look. Ladies would not need your expertise if we truly believe that “everything is beautiful in its own way”. It’s not. Presentation matters. We have eyes. No one wants to eat at an ugly restaurant with the food slung on the plate. It is not a matter of taste. It is a matter of reality. The Emperor’s New Clothes never worked for me! But, I understand you have to be tactful. I can’t imagine that you ever wore ugly, unflattering clothes.

  • Rebecca

    Hi Liz! I recently came across another article about this very subject….I have a second home on the Alabama coast line and I’m a grandma/ nana! I love the relaxed vibe of linen and breezy comfy clothes all the way! my Naot flats and my jack rogers work great! I love white denim & blue, fray hems too!! Thanks for this interesting read. We have a heat index today of 105 degrees, keep cool!

    • Liz K

      It’s reeeee-diculous here, too, Rebecca! I haven’t even been looking at the index because I’m afraid it will send me into a spiral of depression…

  • Anna

    What is the difference between CG and preppy? My CG inspiration comes from Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmin (when she is in her summer house in Hamptons. /Anna

    • Liz K

      What a fun ask, Anna! Preppy style tends toward brighter and more sporty colors in casual wear. I also see more structure and less flow and drape. I think I need to watch Blue Jasmine!

    • Liz K

      Sounds like you’re a summer color lover, Sally! I’m not, which may be that part of CG that appeals to me. I love color all the year long but crave neutrals when the temps soar…

  • Cathy in Missouri

    CG wants easy. I could also see her with the classic Longchamps Le Pliage, a great canvas tote or a cute net bag. Whatever she chooses, she’s not precious about it.


    Well — what I thought reading all of this — but especially the quote above! Was…

    I like Liz.

    This is not the first time, and it will not be the last. 🙂



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