Want to dress like a 'coastal grandmother'? Look to Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton at the Jimmy Kimmel Live! talk show on June 16, 2017.
PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/Jimmy Kimmel Live

Diane Keaton's turn as the menswear-wearing Annie Hall in the 1977 film of the same name turned the actress into a fashion icon. She was the epitome of how cool New York women dressed and she became a fashion inspiration all over the world.

Keaton has since developed a unique, timeless style filled with tailored pieces, dresses and skirts, layers, wide belts, neutral tones, wide-legged trousers, and hats. Now 76, she is proof that there's no age limit when it comes to playing around with your style.

Keaton in a still from Annie Hall.
PHOTO: United Artists 

In a way, Keaton's signature style embodies freedom. Some call her the 'fairy godmother of fearless style' — she plays with audacious looks that have nothing to do with what other people think and everything to do with what she likes.

One of the reasons the actress' style remains relevant is social media. You rarely see only one or two seasonal fashion trends any more — TikTok and Instagram have opened the door for hundreds of niche trends to take place all at once.

There's something to suit everyone's tastes now, from '80s retro to Bridgerton-like corsets and opera gloves. One particular trend that's taken social media by storm is what TikTok user Lex Nicoleta calls 'coastal grandmother', which can be summarised in her words as "Martha Stewart-adjacent, not fully Ina Garten…Nancy Meyers chic."

In a viral video that's amassed over 2.2 million views, the TikTok user explains that a coastal grandmother is a successful woman who builds a captivating life for herself and embodies elements of coastal living, cosy aesthetics and homemaking.

Nicoleta suggests taking inspiration from fictional characters such as Erica Barry, played by Diane Keaton, in the 2003 film Something's Gotta Give which, combined with the actress' already outstanding style, has helped bump the hashtag #coastalgrandmother to new heights.

Beach hats, oversized white shirts, light denim, cardigans, light dresses and minimalist, normcore vibes are crucial to looking like a coastal grandmother.

Keaton (left) and Jack Nicholson in a still from Something’s Gotta Give.
PHOTO: Columbia Pictures

Another style that is loved by influencers is "grandmillennial" — think granny chic. The trend started off as home design and it has slowly spread to the fashion sphere, bringing with it bold floral patterns, ruffles, statement collars, knit cardigans and crochet.

The grandmillennial style takes its cues from eclectic maximalism, mixing cosy retro vibes with a pinch of contemporary details. It's vintage, but with a modern twist.

According to Jen Daft, the head of apparel at online retailer Shopbop, this new-found love for all things grandma can be seen as an evolution of previous trends.

"This movement feels as if normcore, thrift and camp evolved into a single aesthetic and, even though it surfaced as a micro-trend in 2019, is now part of the social media mainstream."

A “grandmillennial” outfit. The grandmillennial style takes its cues from eclectic maximalism.
PHOTO: Instagram/Jenniferlake

This has led to a rise in popularity of the vintage clothes market, both for fashion resale retailers and online platforms such as Poshmark and Depop. Etsy, a global e-commerce site with a focus on handmade and vintage items, has seen a particular uptick.

In the past few years, Etsy's marketplace has reported that searches for pins and clips, chains for glasses, crochet pieces, lockets, vintage dresses, and heirloom-inspired jewellery have increased substantially.

"Millennials are saying goodbye to minimalism and looking to express their style with unique, stand-out pieces," explains Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson. "So it only makes sense that 'granny chic' accessories, which are filled with character and charm, are on the rise."

These trends are all about being comfortable while still being able to make a statement, and about not letting age define your wardrobe.

In a world that seems to avoid ageing at all cost, the grandma-inspired trends are a breath of fresh air that are helping to pivot the narrative that old has to mean dowdy. It's a phenomenon that feels extra special when even celebrities are adopting natural looks that focus on personal style and comfort.

PHOTO: Twitter/Dis_Asteroid

On top of that — and considering the impact that fast fashion has on the environment — these trends are helping people realise the beauty and potential in re-purposed pieces that would otherwise end up in landfill. The result? A mindful wardrobe that has less impact on our surroundings and is oh-so (granny) chic.

ALSO READ: Fashion blogger Willabelle Ong shares how to pull off psychedelic prints in your everyday look

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.