Vintage t-shirts are coming back in a big way. It could be because Gucci has an ongoing collab with Disney, or it could be a wistfulness for the “before times,” or the fact that we’re all dressing more casually now than ever before.
Much like graphic tees, vintage t-shirts are a symbol that spring is here. It’s like the minute the temperature goes above frigid, t-shirts seem to flutter through the air. Vintage t-shirts always add a punch of color, style, sass and recherche to bygone brands and events. And they’re fun to wear too. Rather than digging your way through a vintage clothing shop, or rooting through the bins at a thrift store, we’ve hunted through the ‘net and found cool new vintage style t-shirts to add to your existing t-shirt collection.
As for styling a vintage t-shirt, that’s easy peasy. Throw one on over a long sleeve tee — that style’s back again. Wear over an open button-down shirt, under a blazer or hoodie, or by itself. Vintage t-shirts can be worn with almost any type of pants, except dress trousers or tuxedos.
Scroll through for a trip down memory lane and grab a tee or two for yourself.
1. JAWS Classic Tee
BEST MOVIE TIE-IN
When Jaws hit the silver screens back in ’74 two things happened: swimmers stayed on the beach, and everyone snagged a tee with the movie’s poster on the front. Weirdly, the movie has become a perennial summer movie. Much like the movie’s shark, this tee keeps popping up.
2. That 70s Shirt Happy Face T-Shirt
The smiling happy face was everywhere during the 70s; its inane grin could be found on any and every product. Then, it mercifully disappeared. The 90s and its sense of irony brought it back. And now it’s back again! This distressed and aged-looking vintage t-shirt celebrates the smiley face’s eternal optimism.
3. University Co-Op Austin Retro 70s Tee Shirt
Back in the 70s, graphic print tees became a thing, so when people traveled, they’d often pick up an inexpensive souvenir tee from the city or amusement park they visited. This retro-styled tee with its authentically styled fonts and colors of the “me” decade celebrates Austin, Texas. Try it with tapered jeans and retro-looking runners.
4. NASCAR Daytona 500 T-Shirt
BEST FOR RACING FANS
As mentioned above, during the 70s and 80s it was cool to snag a souvenir tee when traveling or going to an event. This distressed tee features a classic muscle car and an even more classic race on its front. While I feel there’s a “Ricky Bobby” joke somewhere waiting to show up, I will behave. Suffice it to say, you can wear this car-themed tee anywhere.
5. Ripple Junction Atari Pong T-Shirt
BEST FOR GAMERS
Pong was the first video game created, and it goes back to sometime around 1958. After computers and gaming systems became smaller, this game found its way into homes and caught on nationwide. Heck, even SNL did a skit on it. This vintage style cotton blend tee celebrates all things gaming and computers.
6. H&M Stay Pretty T-Shirt
Vintage t-shirts frequently celebrate funky comic books and equally funky counterculture art. Ofttimes, the two were entwined. Spongebob Squarepants gets reimagined as a 70s character on this pale yellow cotton blend tee. Luckily for us, every season H&M creates retro-styled tees at reasonable prices. It’s hard not to snap up the entire collection.
7. Pac Sun Coca-Cola Sky Show T-Shirt
Vintage t-shirts and soda seemingly go hand in hand, it’s an ever-present theme when it comes down to retro styling. Apparently, Coca-Cola used lots of air balloons in the 70s and 80s, and Pac Sun neatly captures that nostalgia in their cotton crew neck tee. It celebrates a fictional hot air balloon show, and the balloons seem to float upwards on this tee.
8. Gucci + Disney Slim Fit Printed Linen and Cotton-Blend Jersey T-Shirt
Gucci’s been doing a lot of collabs with various Disney characters, and the brand’s been using Mickey in so many designs. Now Disney’s number two animal, Donald Duck, is finally getting some Gucci love. This linen and cotton blend ringer tee has a slim fit. Try it with white or beige jeans.
9. Style Universal Totally Rad BMX Bike T-Shirt
BEST 80s VIBE
Channel 80s love of BMX and clashing bright colors with this vintage t-shirt. This cotton blend crew neck also comes in black, royal blue, heather gray and black. Wear it with any type of jeans or joggers.
10. Tee Luv Icee Polar Bear T-Shirt
BEST TASTE OF SUMMER
This is an officially licensed tee, so you’re getting a true vintage t-shirt style that’s brand new. Icees were made for hot summer days. The crushed ice and sugary syrup cooled you down and sometimes made your tongue bright red. Reviewers rave how the tee doesn’t fade and that it stays in shape, even after multiple washes.
11. Ripple Junction Schoolhouse Rock T-Shirt
BEST CHILDHOOD SINGALONG
A generation or two (or is it three?) of American kids grew up singing the songs from Schoolhouse Rock. Today, you can find their videos on YouTube, and someone told me the show’s a favorite with stoners. Whether you’re a long-time fan, love the graphics of the era, or whatever, this is a fun vintage t-shirt to own. This cotton blend crew neck tee has the show’s logo and characters that are framed by the phrase, “Knowledge is Power.”