How to Get a Vintage Look on Your T-Shirt

Vintage is hot right now and a lot of customers want to know how to go vintage for their apparel campaigns. If you ask our resident screen printing expert he'll tell you: It depends.

Vintage vs. Vintage

Some people think that vintage is a look. Other's say it's a feel. Purists might say that vintage only applies if it's a genuine old thing. So, your idea of vintage might not match with your designer's idea. Defining the categories below will help you get the look that you're interested in.

Logo Styling

Logos change over the years. If you have full creative control over your logo, ask your friendly neighborhood graphic artist to have fun with your logo and give it a throw-back overhaul. Our friends over at Google and Pinterest have a ton of images for inspiration. We've pinned some favorites on the RIGHTSLEEVE Pinterest page here.

RKY Vintage Inspired Logo

RKY Vintage Inspired Logo


If you're not in for a complete overhaul, you can still lend a vintage edge to your logo by using design filters.

The shirt below, from our CampRIGHTSLEEVE collection, was designed using a filter to give a distressed look when printed.

Distressed Filter

Distressed Filter


Quality printshops can also help clients achieve a vintage look on their tees by using different ink & decoration techniques. There are two primary techniques we recommend: no underbase and soft-hand.

No Underbase

Screenprinters usually add an underbase to fabric before they apply colored inks so the colors print truer. If you take away the underbase, the print won't be as bright making it appear more vintage. If pantone-match is really important to you, this method might not be the right choice.


The easiest way to achieve a soft-hand print is to use water-based inks, however they are difficult to work with and are often more expensive as a result. Another route to the same effect is to use soft-hand additives, which are are mixed into the ink. The additives thin the ink, giving a softer feel, and can also give a faded look to the print.


Vintage isn't just about look. It's also about feel, so to cap off a vintage-inspired design, find fabric with a softer, or faded look to it. Going to a 50/50 blend over 100% cotton will give you a softer feel without having to go through the hassle of trying methods that may or may not work, like salt-water or chemical washes. You can also go with a throw-back style, like ringer-tees.