The term Coastal Grandmother was coined by Lex Nicolett a 26 year old Tik Tok influencer: Hmm..I don’t think she is a grandmother.  CG definitions include a beachy, romantic aesthetic or living the kind of chic lifestyle exemplified by say, Martha Stewart or the clean and classic style of middle-aged, wealthier women living in luxurious, oceanfront properties. Think Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give or Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated.I’m a grandmother (GG) AND I live by the shore (though sadly not oceanfront) so does that qualify me as a coastal grandma? Hmm.. let’s dissect this.

Colors: The preferred Coastal Grandmother color choices lack..well, color.  Because a CG wears neutrals and neutrals only. Beige, gray, khaki, olive green, navy and black.  NO PRINTS! Gotta tell you, while I love a crisp white shirt paired with jeans or black loose-ish trousers, I’m more than likely going to wear red or yellow platform sneakers or a turquoise and red chunk heel booty with this because jeez.. everyone needs some color in their life. And I’ve recently begun to like prints.. some prints, mostly with bold colors. I know an orange, pink and teal swirl sounds ugly but it can kapow up your look.

Bottoms: You know those khakis you finally tossed after twenty years?-they’re back. But this time they have no pleats and in deference to our post-menopausal mid-sections, have mostly pull-on,  HIGH elastic waists. So no more muffin top to fret about or tugging up over the belly when that extra glass of wine last night has you bloated. Pockets, yes, Belts, no. These are much looser and much more comfortable. They are always made of linen or fine cotton but unlike their khaki cousins, if they wrinkle it doesn’t matter… they actually look better that way! Once again I am not a purist. I look shapeless in baggy pants and they are no friend to us short-legged petites. Give me some high waist jeans with just enough spandex in them to lift the butt and pull in the thighs and I am a powerhouse. And do not try to part me from my leggings to pair with that white shirt or that color swirl top.

Tops: A Coastal Grandma prefers a loose high end linen or cotton long sleeveshirt, even on the hottest days. Why long sleeves?- to cover those pesky crepe lines on the upper arms and that UADD (under arm dingle dangle) that no amount of tricep toning, pilates reform classes seem to fix. The top can be tucked in and bloused over or perhaps just hanging straight down.  I like to do a throwback styling by tying the shirt ends at the waist and if the shirt’s got a good collar, pop that baby. Turtlenecks are also popular CG toppers, in merino wool, high count cotton knit or cashmere. However, it’s been in the 90’s here for the past three weeks so just thinking about any kind of turtleneck makes me itch. Maybe we’ll revisit this in the Fall.

Okay, time to style shoes. Sneakers, sneakers and more sneakers. Sensible and comfy. Rothys and Keds. Cariuma if you really want to live on the edge. You may sneak in a red or navy  flat here or there but white is preferable if you want to put your best Coastal Grandmother foot forward. (I see you all rolling your eyes—forgive the pun) I do love my sneakers but I pretty much have to have a platform. And again, because I’m petite, I do like a wedge or even a kitten heel if I’m wearing a dress.

Let’s discuss THAT hat- the bucket hat. You’ve heard of them but have you actually tried one on? How’d you look? Because I LOOK HORRIBLE..worse than horrible, ugly and sallow. They shade my face in all the wrong places.. they give me a mustache and believe me, I wax faithfully. They push my eyebrows down so my upper lids look even droopier. Can you wear hats at all? I wish I could but I’m not one of those women who can plunk a fedora on her head and then artfully remove it and shake out my hair into tousled waves. Instead my bob is flattened to my head.  If I do wear a hat I am committed to that hat for the duration.. there is no coming back until I wash and blow dry.

So ladies, this concludes this GG’s take on Coastal Grandmothering. Perhaps I haven’t  earned my CG wings but I don’t care.  Go ahead and YOU DO YOU, G-ma. No one is judging except maybe Martha, but she judges everything.

Liz Kurkjian-Henry

August 7, 2022

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