I'm A Fashion Editor With A Closet Full of "Coastal Grandmother" Basics — Here's What You Should Buy

Put Everlane Relaxed Chinos and a Banana Republic Oversized Poplin button down at the top of your shopping list.

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Coastal Grandmother
Photo: Getty Images/ Everlane/ Alex Mill

As with most trends nowadays, TikTok can be credited with jumpstarting the coastal grandmother aesthetic. And if you ask us, it is actually one of the least questionable trends as of late (looking at you low-rise jeans!) because it focuses on comfortable, breezy garments in soothing shades of beige and ecru mixed in with earthy tones.

Sure, that may sound boring, but as a self-appointed basics expert and long-time "coastal grandmother" believer, I think we all could use a little simplicity in our lives. Instead of bold prints and colors, the trend, which is not quite as preppy as some people seem to think, relies on luxurious fabrics, mixing and matching shapes, and layering textures to create an actually visually interesting outfit. Regardless of the name, which sounds slightly orthopedic, you can style these pieces in a modern, sophisticated way that doesn't look matronly — just more like you've rented a beachside house on the Cape for the summer and use vintage J.Crew ads to inform all your purchases.

Best of all, anything you buy to fit this aesthetic will last you for years, so once this trend dies down (as all trends tend to do), you'll still have use for every item you purchase — see, practical! But finding those quintessential basics can be tricky. To help you out, we've compiled the best pieces to purchase in order to nail the aesthetic based on expert advice, personal experience, and staff picks. Top of your list should be the Everlane relaxed chinos and Banana Republic oversized poplin button down.

Read on for the rest of the picks.

Best White Button Down: Banana Republic Oversized Poplin Shirt

Oversized Poplin Shirt
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I can say with some certainty that any shirt that causes you to wonder how it possibly stays in place or seems far too complicated to be comfortable does not adhere to this coastal aesthetic. Look for tops that have timeless shapes, like a white button down. These shirts can be paired with nearly any bottom (we get into that later), allowing you to mix and match your wardrobe effortlessly. We named this oversized button-down from Banana Republic one of our best white button-down shirts. Recommended by Los Angeles-based stylist Joanna Angeles, it stood out for its cotton poplin makeup that's "breathable, lightweight, versatile, and easy to layer with," according to Angeles. The white shade will probably be the most useful for your closet, but it also comes in vibrant green and camel as well.

Best Loose Linen Tee: Alex Crane Sun Tee

Sun Tee Lines
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Alex Crane does linen unlike any other brand — and their mission is specifically to make breezy clothes made from 100 percent natural materials; it basically screams coastal grandmother. The sustainably made French linen feels soft from the beginning but even more so after every wash. Alex Crane also pre-shrinks the material, so you never have to worry about accidentally ruining your favorite shirt (and yes, I do think this will become a favorite). It can even be thrown in the dryer on low for convenience. I even recommend taking it to the next level by snagging a pair of linen shorts from them as well.

Best Cotton Tee: Madewell Supima Cotton Essential Tee

Cotton Essential Tee
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A cotton tee is essential, too. This lightweight option from Madewell will let you fully harp on the breezy vibes you're going for. The shirt extends to size 3X with an ultra-relaxed fit for extra comfort. And for anyone interested in shopping around, we've rounded up a few more favorites, here.

Best Cotton Shorts: Everlane The Tourist Short

I’m A Fashion Editor With A Closet Full of “Coastal Grandmother” Basics — Here’s What You Should Buy
Everlane

I know flowy shapes on top of more flowy shapes sounds a little too much, but don't knock it until you try it — loose linen pants or borrowed-from-the-boys shorts will swiftly convert you. A modern basics brand, Everlane features lots of simple silhouettes in muted colors, perfect for achieving your ultimate beachy outfit. These shorts do err on the "safari" side, but buy them in the charming ice blue shade instead of canvas to stay in the clear. The shorts are mainly composed of organic cotton, but the graininess of the material gives just enough of a linen look without the washing hassle and consistent wrinkling. Anyone who prefers more of a chino, though, will probably be fond of their easy shorts.

Best Cotton Shorts: Everlane The Relaxed Chino

The Relaxed Chino
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Speaking of chinos, this pair from Everlane stood out. It has a boyfriend slouch without looking too baggy. The color is just right — not too light but not too brown — so it has an authentic chino style. Chinos notably wear well over time and will never feel stuffy, which is the purpose of this entire coastal aesthetic. Take a look at Anine Bing, Imogene and Willie, and The Great, too, for fashion-forward chino-like pants as well.

Best Linen Pants: Universal Standard Iris Linen Easy Pull-On Pants

Linen Easy Pull On Pants
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These pants feel as lightweight as they look. All white pants definitely can be a hard sell — hello spills — but for the less mess-prone people among us, they're a closet staple. The straight leg hits right at the ankle, and unlike many beach pants, these actually have pockets front and back, making them seem a little more upscale. I also am fond of the shorts version, if you're interested. And if you'd prefer to shop around even more, we rounded up celeb favorites here.

Best Crewneck Sweater: Alex Mill Button-Back Crewneck Sweater in Bold Stripe

Button-Back Crewneck Sweater in Bold Stripe
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Speaking of practicality, Alex Mill's button back sweater can be worn as both a crewneck sweater or flipped around to sport as a cardigan. The chunky knit keeps you warm once a breeze hits or you crank up the A.C., and thanks to the boxy shape, it can easily layer over everything you have. I own both the bold striped and navy blue colorways; out of all the sweaters in my closet, I probably wear them the most. They also sell just cardigans for anyone anti-two-in-one products, or you can check out other choices from brands like Babaà, J.Crew, and Eileen Fisher.

Best Linen Sweater: Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Cotton Jersey Box-Top

Organic Linen Cotton Jersey Box-Top
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Known for their luxe linen materials, Eileen Fisher created an irresistible linen-cotton blend that will pair nicely with any bottoms for any nighttime summer activities. The drop shoulder looks flattering on many body types — and like something Diane Keaton would've worn in Something's Gotta Give. Plus, the boxy shape adds to the comfort.

Best Cable Knit Sweater: Ralph Lauren Aran-Knit Wool-Blend Crewneck Sweater

Aran-Knit Wool-Blend Crewneck Sweater
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Cozy, warm, and classic, cable knit, fisherman sweater is a must. Of course, Ralph Lauren makes some of my favorites, but for some less traditional versions, look into Dôen, Lunya, or Banana Republic.

Best Linen Dress: Hill House Home The Laura Dress

I’m A Fashion Editor With A Closet Full of “Coastal Grandmother” Basics — Here’s What You Should Buy
Hill House

A self-explanatory basic, the summer dress will easily take you through all the warmer months. It's easy to throw on as a comfortable option that will keep you cool during hotter days. I'm sure you're sick of the ubiquitous nap dress by now, but there's a reason they're so popular: they're comfortable and stylish. This linen shirt dress drifts away from Hill House Home's signature baby doll dress shape, but remains just as feminine and youthful looking.

Best Cotton Dress: COS Pleated A-Line Mini Dress

PLEATED A-LINE MINI DRESS
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This cotton mini dress will be key for any waterfront reservations or parties on the beach this summer. I suggest pairing it with a pair of sleek espadrilles, too. And if you prefer something longer, this dress has the same lightweight fabric, but in a longer, tank-style dress.

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