Montage of vintage tshirt tags from the 90s, 80s, and 70s.

What Makes a T-Shirt Vintage?

Faded fabric, featuring slightly cracked screen print designs and a broken in fit are all byproducts of age. T-shirts made in 2001 or earlier tend to possess these qualities. Offering a window into the past, vintage tees must be at least 20 years old to qualify as “vintage.” Often printed on blanks with iconic tags such as, Jerzees, Screen Stars, Hanes 50/50, Logo 7, Stedman, Champion, Fruit of the Loom, Liquid Blue, Brockum, and countless other blank apparel providers throughout the decades. This also includes brand name tags, companies that applied their own tags on their old t-shirt production lines.

Vintage t-shirts not only feature old graphics that capture sentiments, events, or branding of decades-past, they also embody a worn-in feeling and vintage fit/texture. Vintage t-shirts are either the most rough and stiff t-shirt you own or the softest and most flowy piece of clothing you own. Either way, old t-shirts drape over the body of the wearer and flow with your movements in a fashion that new t-shirts simply can not replicate. This phenomenon occurs in both 100% cotton vintage shirts and 50% cotton 50% polyester blends or similar material blends. The general fit of vintage t-shirts comes from repetitive use and washing of the shirt, permitted the shirt is not constantly left in the sun or washed with bleach too many times. The “vintage soft” feeling in old shirts comes from your sweat and skin against the fabric over time. To be exact it is the sodium from your sweat and skin that softens (or tenderizes) the shirt over time. You could recreate the feeling by soaking new shirts in a salt-water solution, but the feel might not be perfect. The fit of a vintage t-shirt comes from use and the softness comes from salt. Beyond that, any holes, rips, paint or stains in the fabric are either purposeful or accidental over time, either add or subtract from the look of the garment.

The Rarest and Most Desired Vintage T-Shirts

  • Original Nirvana Band Tees
  • Original Star Wars Movie Tees
  • Original Beatles Band Tees
  • Limited Run Marilyn Manson
  • Woodstock Festival Merchandise
  • UNICEFF Fundraiser T-Shirts
  • Apple Computers Merchandise
  • Run D.M.C. x Addias Tee
  • Vintage Streetwear Brand Tees or Limited Run Pieces
  • John Lenonon x Plastic Ono Band Collab Tees

These are a quick example of some of the rarest and consequently most expensive vintage t-shirts in the world, hard to find (not often are they sold nor are there many left in good condition as the years go on). The rarest shirts are being sold on ebay or at auction by Christie’s.

Wearing vs Collecting

Vintage t-shirt buyers may be broadly categorized into two groups, wearers and collectors. To purchase a piece of clothing for use, you do not need to wear it on a weekly schedule but you do however pull the piece of vintage clothing out on occasion and wear it for the day or night. On the opposite side of the equation, collectors purchase pieces for their own collections and store the pieces in particular conditions as to view, display, and preserve their vintage sentiments and qualities.

Dressing in Vintage

Beats off the rack new products. Vintage clothing offers a one-of-one item that very rarely will you ever see duplicates of and the likelihood you see duplicates on the street is even less likely. Vintage clothing is meant to be worn, and in most cases a shirt that is 20 years or older is still in great condition to be worn and enjoyed for years. The process of buying vintage is slightly different and not everyone has participated in the shopping process which has kept vintage clothing and selling small in comparison to new clothing. Try it out, buy one single vintage t-shirt and wear it around, see if buying vintage suits your tastes. Pretty Old Clothing makes the process as simple as buying new clothes online through a well-known retailer, a one-stop shop for vintage t-shirts and other garments, the product will ship the same day and deliver within a few business days. From there, wear the piece and let us know what you think (if you want to).