How To Make A Shirt Look Vintage

Finding a vintage T-shirt is always great. However, sometimes they can have irreparable stains on them, or might even smell musty.

Even if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you – sometimes it adds to the character – you can also make a shirt look vintage, despite it only being made this year.

How To Make A Shirt Look Vintage

Yeah, that’s right. You can pick up a shirt from Forever 21 and make it look like it came straight out of the 80s.

There are all kinds of ways to make the shirt look vintage too, from fraying the edges, to making the color look faded. Heck, you can even add your own stains!

To find out how you can make a shirt look vintage, read on. You will be surprised at how incredibly easy it is to make that band shirt look like it really did come from the 90s. 

What Is A Vintage Shirt?

A vintage shirt is often one that looks worn. This is because it is an old shirt that has been loved for many years.

Despite the first wearer giving it away, another person may pick it up because they love the vintage look of it.

However, vintage does not just mean a softer shirt. There could be the odd tear of loosening of threads. There may be some fraying to the edges.

The print on the shirt could be fading too, as well as the color of the cotton. All of these things indicate that the shirt is, well, basically old.

You can easily replicate this style on a new shirt. These days you can buy new shirts from bands that do not even release music any more. You could even make your Adidas shirt look vintage

Whatever shirt you choose, just make sure you do a practice run first – you don’t want to make any mistakes!

What Is The Point Of Making A Shirt Look Vintage?

Finding a real vintage shirt can take time and lots of effort. Also, sometimes the shirt you are looking for may be of high value, so will cost a lot of money.

The distressed and vintage style is having a moment. In fact, it has not really left since it came back around. For that reason, you may want to make your clothes look vintage rather than searching through thrift stores.

However, that is fun too and we have a whole article on it here.

You can also buy new clothes that appear to look vintage. Unfortunately, this can also be quite pricey too.

Even so, you can also make your own clothes look vintage. While the process may be lengthy in some cases, it is totally worth it and a whole lotta fun. 

How To Make A Shirt Look Like Its Vintage?

Aging a shirt takes time and you may need to buy some products to do the process. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to age a shirt without damaging it too.

From using bleach to putting it through a hot wash several times, here are some of the best DIY ways to make a shirt look like it is vintage. 



If you are just after a basic distressed look, then sandpaper is a great option. 

However, you will need to make sure the material isn’t too thin, and that you use cardboard to protect the other surface of the shirt. 

This method is great to use on denim, but also jackets and shirts. Sand areas that would naturally look worn over time such as knees, cuffs, elbows and hems.

If you do want holes in your shirt, then sandpaper should be able to create them easily. 

Frayed Edges And Tears

A ripped shirt or frayed edges is quite normal with old shirts. 

Even so, you will want to make sure that you do not overdo it otherwise you will begin to look like you are emulating the Vivienne Westwood era of the 1980s. 

Unless that is the look you are going for, carry on!

To carefully rip your clothes, use a pair of scissors specially made for fabric, or a razor blade. Find a loop of the fabric by pinching some of the material together.

Use the scissors to snip at the loop. This will create a tiny hole. 

Or, you can use a razor blade to fray the edges of hems. Always follow the direct line of where the hem is. This also works really well on jeans and makes any changes look natural.

Acetone To Fade Prints

Here is a solution to help fade the print:

Items needed:

  • Two cups of acetone
  • Bucket
  • Sponge or thick cloth – to treat the print only
  • Rubber gloves for protection
  • Wooden tongs
  1. Mix acetone into the bucket of water. Add the shirt into the bucket and move it around for 2 minutes using the tongs.
  2. If you are only treating the print, apply it onto the shirt with a sponge. Apply a protective layer inside the shirt.
  3. Leave the shirt or print to soak in the acetone for up to 48 hours. Check on it and stir. 
  4. Wash in the washing machine and dry. You may need to repeat this method.

Using Bleach To Fade

Bleach is a great way to fade the color of a cotton shirt. However, do take note that it is best to only use a cotton shirt for this method. 

Items needed:

  • Half cup of bleach
  • A sink or a bucket
  • Wooden tongs
  • Rubber gloves to protect hands
  1. Add a shirt to sink or bucket full of lukewarm water and bleach. Use tongs to stir the shirt. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  2. When finished, run the shirt under hot water and squeeze the shirt of excess water and put it on a hot wash in the washing machine using a detergent. 
  3. Dry as usual.

Final Thoughts

Making your shirt look vintage is a great way to make any new T-shirt look older than it really is. 

Hopefully you will find these methods really easy to do!

Willa Price

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