Aesthetic Detective: Grand Millennial

Jenessa Williams 7 May 2022

In a new series, Jenessa Williams unravels the aesthetics trends emerging on social media and advises on how you can embrace them for yourself. This month: Grand Millennial  

Where does this trend come from?

Image: Meadows Dress, Le Creuset Dish, LK Bennett Boots, Manso Ring, Klimchi Jug, &Quirky Dog Ornaments, British Colour Standard Candles, Accessorize Tray, Desenio Monet Print, Project Tityyny Patchwork Blanket, Urban Outfitters Shelf, River Island trousers

Image: Meadows Dress, Le Creuset Dish, LK Bennett Boots, Manso Ring, Klimchi Jug, &Quirky Dog Ornaments, British Colour Standard Candles, Accessorize Tray, Desenio Monet Print, Project Tityyny Patchwork Blanket, Urban Outfitters Shelf, River Island trousers

Grand Millennials can be defined as being in their mid-twenties to late thirties; not quite boomers, but wanting to separate themselves from the consumerist excess of the 2010s. 

As many enter the age-window of buying their own homes (or at least being settled into a long-term rental), Grand Millennial style is a way to put a real stamp on one’s living space. It holds some nostalgia for the "granny chic" style of the 60s-80s, but with more colour and playfulness, a meeting point between the old and the new.  

Some reports of the trend believe that it is a direct reaction to having so much choice; unable to streamline what we know and like, we decide to have it all, finding comfort in elements that remind us of childhood pasts, where life might have felt simpler or more carefree. Though it is broadly a home interiors trend, Grand Millennial style naturally spills into the wardrobes of its owners, favouring pattern, texture and "fussy" print to create something that feels bespoke to its curator.

What does it look like?

Image: Hannah Michelle Art Print, Marks & Spencer Dress, Gucci Sunglasses, Stine Goya Cardigan, Rifle Paper Co Bag, Habitat Coffee Set, Manicurist Nail Polish, Madam Stoltz Cushion, shrimps Top, Oliver Bonas Photo Frame, La Redoute Shoes, Pooky Lamp, Ben Amun Necklace, Soho Home Table

Image: Hannah Michelle Art Print, Marks & Spencer Dress, Gucci Sunglasses, Stine Goya Cardigan, Rifle Paper Co Bag, Habitat Coffee Set, Manicurist Nail Polish, Madam Stoltz Cushion, shrimps Top, Oliver Bonas Photo Frame, La Redoute Shoes, Pooky Lamp, Ben Amun Necklace, Soho Home Table

For this generation, sustainability is a huge concern. Described as an “antidote to minimalism”, Grand Millennial offers up a way to rebel against sleeky-matching Scandinavian flatpack or monochromatic new-builds, preferring instead to celebrate the furniture or quirky constructions that have been around for generations, creating a "lived-in" feel. As a result, it looks a lot like anything and everything; a little bit mid-century-modern, a little bit kitsch, a little bit bohemian.  

"The appeal of Grand Millennial style is that it is an accumulation of eclectic items and knick-knacks"

Bleached wood or white MDF is firmly out. Think instead of solid, darkly-stained heirloom wood, cutting through the cuteness of chintz and gingham. Floral wallpaper and patterned upholstery are a must, as is rich embellishment; skirted tables, tasselled curtain ties, needlepoint cushions. Pastel colours will appear heavily, but so will rich reds, blues and yellows, elevating the look into something more contemporary.  

Grand Millennial style really thrives at a dinner party. Decorate your table with novelty serving dishes, candles, and elaborate cotton serviettes and tablecloths edged with ric-rac stitching. Your bathroom will likely showcase monogrammed towels and soap by the bar, while the garden will be decked out in the finest rattan lawn furniture, ready to host those who want kick back and enjoy a glass of iced tea and slice of heavily piped cake, southern-hospitality style. Dress yourself in a look to match; floaty dresses or trimmed trousers suit the Grand Millennial aesthetic, particularly if they are teamed with a fluffy mohair knit or novelty accessory.  

How can I embody it myself?

Image: Anna + Nia Plate, Rixo Blouse, Loaf Loveseat, Toast Shoes, Nigel Slater Cookbook, Fornasetti Profumi Candle, Shrimps Earrings, Hayley Menzies Cardigan, Suncoo Bag, Monki Gilet, Van Verre Cabbage Plate, Rifle Paper Co Wallpaper, Rixo Skirt

Image: Anna + Nia Plate, Rixo Blouse, Loaf Loveseat, Toast Shoes, Nigel Slater Cookbook, Fornasetti Profumi Candle, Shrimps Earrings, Hayley Menzies Cardigan, Suncoo Bag, Monki Gilet, Van Verre Cabbage Plate, Rifle Paper Co Wallpaper, Rixo Skirt

Charity shopping, vintage auctions, and a whole lot of patience. The appeal of Grand Millennial style is that it is an accumulation of eclectic items and knick-knacks, built up over time and with some sentimental value. Grand Millennial culture massively romanticises the notion of "item discovery" over "hauling"; pull up that vintage pouffe and get used to spending your evening trawling Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Gumtree in the hope of a bargain.  

"The Grand Millennial aesthetic rewards patience"

However, Grand Millennial aesthetic is different from cottagecore or even straight vintage in that it doesn’t mean entirely separating oneself from modern trends or adopting tweeness as a total mentality. There are a great many independent retailers and sustainable sellers who actively encourage the blending of old-fashion designs with modern production values, helping to create garments that eliminate waste and poorly compensated labour which also encouraging a cyclic fashion economy.  

With all of these ideas to play with, it is still of course important to be somewhat selective. There is no point collecting endless eBay parcels if you’re just going to end up sending them all back; before you begin shopping, identify a palette of a few colours that really speak to you and that accommodate each other. With fashion, you are looking for pieces that offer expert craftsmanship, or quirky details that stand out as being a little bit special. Are there pieces you already own, or swaps you could make with a friend?  

If you’re on a real budget, try upcycling what you already own. Swap out draw knobs and buttons for something more ornate, hand-dye curtains and tableware, dry hydrangeas into keepsake arrangements or turn magazine covers and clippings into filler shots for an eclectic gallery wall. Even moving knick-knacks from one room to another can serve to scratch the itch of updating your home, saving money and effort. The look you are going for is cosy, not chaotic, so be mindful to dress the space you have, rather than the one in your head. Floral curtains and a matching bedspread may look great on Pinterest, but in a tiny studio apartment, the final impact might be a little too overwhelming. The Grand Millennial aesthetic rewards patience, and the more space you give yourself to enjoy the process, the better the end product will be.  

Read more: Get the look: Bridgerton

Read more: Could made to order be the future of fashion?

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