Buying Guide for Vintage T-Shirts
Why buy vintage t-shirts?
If you’re looking for t-shirts that have a bit of personality and a more relaxed fit, vintage-style t-shirts are the way to go. They are best worn for casual, laid-back settings, concerts, and festivals. What makes them stand out more is that they typically have a print or design that is reminiscent of something you love or appreciate.
What should you look for in vintage t-shirts?
- Authenticity: Technically, our picks and most things sold online will be recently manufactured in a vintage style and aren’t authentically vintage. If you want authentic vintage clothing, the best places to find them are thrift stores and specialty boutiques.
- Material: Most vintage-style t-shirts will be made of cotton, polyester, and spandex or a blend of some sort. They are known for having the “worn-in” soft feel, so you’ll want to keep a lookout for that as well.
- Design: Vintage-style t-shirts will typically have a print that shows off your favorite band, place you’ve visited, or sports team. They may also have holes or rips to give a more edgy style or some type of gradient, distressed fading that makes it look lived in. Some may be worn oversized for a more comfortable fit, while others may be tied at the bottom for a cute cinched-in look.
Are there any differences between what is considered retro vs. vintage t-shirts?
The terms “vintage” and “retro” seem to be thrown around together and switched back and forth to define a style that basically dates back to the past; however, these two terms are quite different. A vintage t-shirt is only considered true vintage if it was made 20 years or more ago. You can look into the tag, fabric, and reputation of the brand to find out if your t-shirt is authentic as well. A retro t-shirt, on the other hand, is a shirt that is made in more recent, modern times and usually has vintage-themed designs.
Our Picks for the Best Vintage T-Shirts
Pros: Whether it’s running errands or lounging around the house, you’ll feel super lax in this oversized graphic t-shirt. It’s made of a blend of polyester and spandex to make it stretchy, soft, and durable for everyday wear. It features a rounded crew neck and has half-long sleeves that drop to make it look worn-in without being sloppy. The words “Los Angeles” in blocked lettering and “California” in a simple black font are printed on the front to give an old-school vintage vibe. It comes in multiple colors, from khaki to blue to pink to mint.
Cons: For some, this t-shirt may fit too wide and boxy, while the shoulders and sleeves may be too large.
Bottom Line: You won’t sacrifice style for comfort in this roomy, carefree graphic t-shirt. Pair it with some ripped denim or your favorite sweats to complete the lived-in look.
Pros: Rock this Queen-inspired t-shirt at a music festival or concert to reveal your inner fan girl. It comes in a breathable, lightweight cotton blend and is offered in eight other colors for you to choose from. The iconic Queen logo is plastered on the front that shows the zodiac signs of all four members—two lions for Leo (John Deacon and Roger Taylor), a crab for Cancer (Brian May), and two fairies for Virgo (Freddie Mercury).
Cons: The colors may look different than what is pictured online.
Bottom Line: Any true fan of Queen will be happy to wear the emblem of their beloved favorite band. With its thin, soft feel, you’ll be able to slip this on for any exciting occasion.
Pros: If you like the long, oversized, relaxed look, this vintage tee is the perfect alternative to your basic top. It’s made of soft, stretchy cotton and has a loose-fitting crewneck and silhouette that offers plenty of breathing room. It comes in black, dark gray, white, orange, and a few colorful designs. The retro prints range from a half moon with skeletons, a van with the words “San Fransisco California,” an evil eye, and many others.
Cons: Some of the prints look and feel like press-on stickers and may peel off.
Bottom Line: Long gone are the days of a stuffy tight t-shirt that’s plain and boring. Chill to the max in this trendy graphic tee that gives a bit more edge to your style.
Pros: Calling all Star Wars fans—this vintage X-Wing 1977 t-shirt is a quintessential addition to your collection. The cotton polyester blend makes it lightweight and simple to throw on, and it has a classic fit that falls right at the hips. The X-Wing and the year 1977 are printed on the front and fade out on the bottom for a vintage worn-in look. It’s offered in slate, cranberry, silver, olive, and dark heather gray and is machine washable.
Cons: The t-shirt is form-fitting and runs small, so you’ll want to order up a size.
Bottom Line: If you’re a long-time die-hard Star Wars fanatic, you’ll be reaching for this graphic vintage t-shirt more than you think. Because of its soft faded-out style and neutral coloring, it’s a versatile understated piece that can be worn with almost any pair of bottoms.
Pros: Those who are true to the NFL will go crazy over this jersey-knit vintage top that makes you feel like you’re part of the team. It has a scoop neck design for a more casual appeal and has 3/4-length striped sleeves. The slub-knit jersey material is lightweight and offers a slim athletic silhouette, so you can wear it to the next football game or outdoor activity. It comes with a high-quality screen-printed design of a jersey number in your favorite team’s official colors.
Cons: The material is see-through, so you’ll want to wear a tank top or undershirt underneath.
Bottom Line: Show the love for your favorite football team inside and outside the stadium with this casual, distressed vintage tee. It’s a fresh fit that goes beyond the basic jersey.
Who knew that a t-shirt considered vintage and having an old, worn-in look would be appealing and trendy today? It stands true, and for good reason—a vintage t-shirt can bring back memories and nostalgia in a more modern style. Whether you’re a lover of music, a certain destination, or sports, a vintage t-shirt is a great way to show it.