There is nothing more aspirational than a Nancy Meyers kitchen. Nancy Meyers has written, produced or directed film gems like Father of the Bride, It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give.
Her characters inhabit fantastic homes with rustic, expensive kitchens. Here Diane Keaton is chopping a $7 tomato and drinking from an impossibly large wine glass.
There Meryl Streep is rearranging a bowl of lemons and wearing tan coloured linen and a floaty white scarf. The interiors and the fashions combine to create a cosy, muted, textured aesthetic that's been coined "coastal grandmother".
Coastal grandmother as a trend took off on TikTok recently, and the aspirational style of a wealthy well-preserved woman with her lovely big airy house by the sea and a seemingly endless supply of crisp white shirts and shiny blow drys became the one to watch for summer 2022.
What about those who aren't by the sea? Can one lean into the coastal grandmother aesthetic if you live in Tullamore?
Endless articles have popped up detailing how you and I can achieve Nancy Meyers chic. It involves a lot of neutral-coloured throws, nautical-themed cushions, fresh flowers, cosy music and the all-important big bowl of lemons. A person who has a bowl of lemons to hand must surely have it all figured out?
Add an outfit featuring blue and white stripes – less French mime and more Reese Witherspoon on the veranda of a problematic plantation house in South Carolina – and you’re bang on trend.
Francis Brennan's sheets or Rachel Allen adding some buttah to an apple tahrt recipe while listening to the Stepmom soundtrack might be as close as we'll get here to the GC aesthetic. Maybe we should turn to Peig Sayers as our own native version of the coastal grandmother and embrace headscarves, turf and bleak Blasket weather, rather than crackling log fires and cashmere jumpers.
My own granny leaned heavily towards holy water and glowing sacred heart pictures, which doesn’t really vibe with the idyllic scene of Oprah under a linen-draped pergola, drinking rosé and not a bit put out by the sudden arrival of four family members for dinner.
The coastal grandmother can handle anything! She’s already been effortlessly baking and lighting three-wick candles that smell of driftwood and money.
I feel like you'd need to be installed in Kinsale, or west Cork or Clifden to achieve peak coastal granny, in the kinds of houses I drive past and mutter bitterly, "It must be nice" as Google Maps takes me towards my AirBnB, stressing about what to do with all the wine bottles we've left beside the bin. Imagine the aggressive book clubbing that might go on in such seaside home.
Probably the only way to achieve peak coastal granny is to have the means to own the house and the bits and be flaithiúlach with the lemons
So much Clarins hand cream applied. So many copies of The Gloss and Irish Country Magazine in wicker holders.
But, what about those who aren't by the sea? Can one lean into the coastal grandmother aesthetic if you live in Tullamore? Or Edgeworthstown? According to Lex Nicoleta, the 26-year-old who coined the term on TikTok, there is no requirement to be either sea-adjacent or advanced in age. She also says it's not elitist, despite the salubrious inspirations, and that anyone can achieve the crisp, serene, capable aura of the GC with just a few touches.
I must confess, I do worry that my own brand of coastal granny might be more Grey Gardens than Diane Keaton, but if I do want to embrace the trend I think I’ll start by using the iron the odd time. You can’t be a GC without a crisp shirt collar, paired with an expensive and unnecessary scarflet. I’ll need some white curtains to billow in a warm breeze, and of course I’ll have bowls of lemons as far as the eye can see.
All jokes aside, it makes sense that this aesthetic and mood is so attractive right now. It allows people to envisage a life where they're not constantly doomscrolling in the dark. It brings to mind harmless rom coms and Steve Martin in chinos. It's the perfect accompaniment to interiors accounts on Instagram and house tours on Architectural Digest.
Harry Styles, arguably the biggest pop star in the world right now, has chosen to launch the promotional campaign for his next album with a cover shoot for Better Homes and Gardens, which has enormous coastal grandmother energy. His publicity team certainly knows his audience.
It's also glamorising rich whiteness and privilege. There's a reason why we drool over Nancy Meyers movies and the beachside locations in Grace and Frankie. They're so unattainable and aspirational, but provide just the right amount of escapism.
Probably the only way to achieve peak coastal granny is to have the means to own the house and the bits and be flaithiúlach with the lemons. For the rest of us it’s cosplaying as Meryl with an eight hour “Sounds of the Sea” track on Spotify and watching Stanley Tucci – king of the coastal grandads – cooking on Instagram or TikTok in a very comforting apron. It could be worse.