the fashion trend we didn’t need
When it comes to social media trends ‘coastal grandma chic’ looks harmless, with its canvas bucket hats, white turtlenecks and bone chinos, but on closer inspection, oh my, what big teeth it has!
“The whole notion of coastal grandma chic makes me feel seasick,” says fashion enthusiast Shona Grant, who is in her seventies. “Shouldn’t it be more about interiors and homes or are we meant to be disappearing into the background with all of these non-colours?”
The trend emerged on TikTok, where influencers pose in the neutral calm of outfits inspired by Diane Keaton’s wardrobe in the 2003 Nancy Meyer’s movie Something’s Gotta Give. In a post that has been shared by Keaton, TikTok creator Lex Nicoleta says, “If you love Nancy Meyers movies, coastal vibes, recipes and cooking, Ina Garten, cozy interiors, and more, there’s a good chance you might be a coastal grandmother.”
Actress Anne Hathaway, who starred in Meyer’s 2015 film The Intern, posted a photograph to Instagram wearing a basic beige ensemble with the hashtag #coastalgrandmother, while singer/actress Selena Gomez donned an oatmeal knit cardigan for a sunset selfie, but for some women over 60 years old, the trend is fraught rather than fun.
“This notion of grandma coastal conjures up something pale and somewhat invisible and beige. I don’t do beige,” Grant says. “Older people must be visible rather than invisible.”
Having worked in fashion retail and modelled for Melbourne designers, Grant takes a fashion forward stance on social media wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogans “Bold” and “Big Pussy Energy” along with pieces from emerging labels.
“I recently turned up for an audition for a grandma role in a television commercial and I knew straight away that I wasn’t going to get it because I don’t fit the image of what an older person should look like to someone two generations younger than me,” Grant says. “Many people in my seventies age bracket slide into invisibility. This seems a way of enabling that.”
Professor Nancy Pachana, director of anti-ageing initiatives at the University of Queensland, recognises the appeal of dressing like Diane Keaton but is concerned when the trend becomes a stereotype for how we perceive older women.