Say hello to grandpa-core, the aesthetic that embraces the stereotypical look of what an elderly man might wear. But unlike a head-to-toe look that you’d spot at a nursing home, this look is about sprinkling in a few of pop’s favorite pieces. And the result is utterly cool, but also incredibly cozy, and very right now.
As stylist Molly Levin explains,“After the height of the pandemic, everyone got so used to being comfortable. No one was excited to put on tight clothes and uncomfortable shoes again. So this is a great excuse to look chic but still be comfortable.” Be warned, however. “The grandpa trend is really quite tricky to get just right,” adds stylist Shalev Lavàn.
We enlisted the sartorial pros to help break down what’s needed to nail the look.
Meet the Experts
Shalev Lavàn is an Israeli stylist currently based in L.A. He’s known for his editorial work in Europe and the U.S., as well as his work with Shay Mitchell and Aubrey Plaza.
Molly Levin is an L.A.-based stylist to stars like Chelsea Handler, Malin Ackerman, and Constance Zimmer, and co-owner of FIND, a styling and personal shopping agency.
Start with a few key pieces.
Think: WWGW (aka “What would grandpa wear?”). For Levin, the answer is New Balance sneakers, a great-fitting baseball cap, and a full-length men’s style trouser. For Lavàn, it’s all about hand-knit pieces like a neutral cardigan, vest, and plaid scarf. To that, he adds wool socks and leather loafers. “I think this is the best way to achieve the overall aesthetic but in a modern way,” he says.
Avoid head-to-toe gramps.
Levin says “a few pieces that will give the vibe” are all you need. Two to three grandpa-inspired items and the rest should be your everyday wear. You run the risk of looking too costume-y or like an extra in a Charles Dickens play if you’re sporting a newsboy cap, tweed jacket, and a cane.
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Get set to hunt for that grandpa gear. “With the comeback of vintage, every fashionista and fashion stylist are frequenting second-hand stores,” says Lavàn. Thrift shops are often the best bet (versus designer resale boutiques), so Google ones in your area or try Thred Up to get options delivered to your doorstep.
But also look in your closet.
Lavàn recommends mixing a few key grandpa-chic pieces “with some more day-to-day items you already love and have in your closet.” Think: Your favorite fitted tee under a chunky cardigan or a crisp white button-up blouse, sleeves rolled to the elbows, with a knit vest over the top and layers of bracelets adorning the wrists.
Go the extra mile.
It’s advice straight from Lavàn, who also advises to “knit yourself some of your grandpa-trendy clothes from scratch. That will make it really authentic.”
Look to others for ideas on how it’s been done well before. Levin points to Anouk Yve. “She shows exactly how to balance it. She puts on a big jacket, men’s shirt, and sweater vest, but pairs it with a slim trouser and a tennis shoe. Perfect,” says Levin.
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Model Gigi Hadid has been a trailblazer with the look, sporting brown wide-leg trousers and leather loafers with a sweatshirt; Selena Gomez nailed the trend in an oversized cardigan and loafers, balanced with a fitted black turtleneck and hoop earrings; while Kendall Jenner has been spotted on multiple occasions in sweater vests and grandpa-esque brown trousers. Also check out maitoyokawa, le_garcon__noir, and crafty_thrifting for inspo.
Levin likes to add some feminine touches by way of jewelry “since it’s a masculine way of dressing.” Or try pointy-toe flats or heels with your wide-leg trousers. The idea is to juxtapose the grandpa vibe with something a stereotypical grandpa would definitely not wear.
Make it flattering.
Lavàn says there are no hard rules when it comes to making this look flattering because every body type is different. But he suggests if you go baggy with an oversized cardigan and loose bottoms, balance it with a tighter shirt underneath and keep the cardigan open. Levin adds that good tailoring is key: “You still want to give that baggy look but good tailoring will make it not look sloppy.”
Layer it up.
This look is ideal for winter thanks to the cozy, comfortable fabrics like corduroy, wool, and tweed, but is also ideal for the transition into spring because it’s all about layering.
Make it fun.
Lavàn suggests mixing “good high-heel shoes with wool socks” for the ultimate in “fun and cool” grandpa-core. And remember: It’s not about mimicking granddad to a T; it’s about infusing a few of his dapper faves into a look that’s uniquely you in 2023.
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