Coined by creator Lex Nicoleta, the trend – which champions wardrobe staples like linen shirts, cable knits and white trousers – was soon picked up by news outlets, brands and celebs, all with their own insights on how to achieve the look. Anne Hathaway delightedly got on board, as did Nancy Meyers and Diane Keaton themselves.
There’s even a 'Coastal Grandmother' playlist on Spotify, featuring nine hours of songs from the likes of James Taylor, Nat King Cole and Nora Jones.
Now, I love the seaside as much as the next girl – and am not opposed to acting like a septuagenarian (my regular bedtime is fixed at 9.30pm) – but sartorially speaking, Coastal Grandma just isn’t for me. You won’t find me artfully draping a pashmina around my shoulders à la Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated. Nor will you catch me gardening in a wide-brim hat. (Who can afford to have a garden in London anyway?)
So allow me to propose a chicer, more fashion-forward alternative: the Cool Coastal Aunt™.
For those of us who want to look like we own a seaside property with easy access to Plymouth but are drawn towards more contemporary, trend-led silhouettes, the Cool Coastal Aunt is Coastal Grandmother-adjacent but a more realistic representation that works for a beer garden or night out in the city.
There are still copious amounts of linen and a strong blue and white colour palette but the Cool Coastal Aunt is willing to take a few more risks with her wardrobe. Rather than wearing a button-down, you might find her in a white linen mini dress or voluminous maxi instead. She’ll forgo the woven bucket hat, preferring to restrict her raffia to handbags (preferably in the form of a Jacquemus or Loewe leather-trimmed tote). Footwear is far more playful than just loafers and white sneakers on rotation – she’ll take the strappy sandals and heeled mules, thank you very much.
There might not be a specific film figure to reference here but there are plenty of brands that embody the Cool Coastal Aunt aesthetic. You can’t bypass Posse – its aptly named La Mer collection might as well be Cool Coastal Aunt’s capsule. Australian label St Agni offers similar coastal vibes, while Arkitaip and Second Summer fashion linen in all manner of modern silhouettes.
Are you ready to embrace everyone’s favourite family member this summer? We've rounded up some Cool Coastal Aunt shopping picks to get you started.
This linen mini epitomises the aesthetic. It’s summery and beach-ready but oozes cool and feels contemporary, too.
Slow fashion label Arkitaip specialises in linen and just launched a collection featuring pieces you’ll want to keep forever. This matching set is a standout pick for me. I love the relaxed silhouette: a tie-detail blouse paired with wide-leg trousers.
Linen aside, raffia is one of the most popular materials when it comes to summer products. Here, St Agni puts it to good use as a footbed to create a pair of holiday-ready sandals that you won’t want to take off.
This is not your grandmother’s crochet. Mango adds a touch of modernity to the coastal aesthetic with this knit dress. It's perfect for the beach over your bathers or worn to a seaside restaurant or bar.
Posse is a label I return to every summer as it has perfected the warm-weather wardrobe. This linen crop top would be a welcome addition in your suitcase as you jet off to your next beachside holiday.
Influencer Lucy Williams wore this exact set on her recent holiday and if that’s not enough to convince you it’s a winner, then how about the fact it’s made from EcoVero sustainable viscose and organic cotton? We're sold.
Every Cool Coastal Aunt needs a cool coastal tote and this Loewe iteration might just be the perfect find.
Imagine, for a moment, frolicking barefoot on the beach in this white dress. Nancy Meyers would be so proud! For times when shoes are necessary, I’d pair this with a flat strappy sandal.
If you’re after comfort this summer, may I suggest investing in a trapeze-style dress? Whether you wear it as a cover-up at the beach or simply around the house, it’s guaranteed to help you stay cool and comfortable.