Men’s Vintage Clothing Essentials: All in One Guide

Vintage clothing has become very popular and significant over time, but it is not quite easy to find one’s style since there are so many options. There are some important rules and notes to look out for if you want to start to dress vintage. First, you shouldn’t care what other people think of you because experimenting with a style, especially from different decades, makes you an eye-catcher, either in a good or bad way. You’ll need to try out different outfits and styles until you feel happy and comfortable going through the process. You should know that diving into this topic is a slow process, and you have to research a lot; otherwise, you’ll always wear something but not the things you really want. If you’re confused, it will reflect on your outfit and your overall picture. You should find inspiration first from Sitcoms, social media, or apps like Pinterest. You can also create a mood board to consider what clothes you’re looking for. For instance, Chandler from the Sitcom “Friends” wears a basic but very cool vintage look. Under a white T-Shirt, he’s wearing a grey Sweatshirt and some black pants and shoes. It also shows that you should rather wear vintage items mixed with modern clothing from your wardrobe.

Vintage Clothing Essentials

To help out with finding your personal vintage style, here are some influential men’s vintage clothing essentials and a quick guide to vintage clothing:

1. Vintage Outerwear

Outerwear is inevitable – you’ll wear it anytime besides summer, but even then, in the evenings, it’s essential. Vintage jackets change your whole outfit, and once you’ve seen the difference from modern jackets, you won’t want to go back to newly produced ones. 

Some examples of vintage outerwear are:

  • leather jackets
  • racer jackets
  • jeans jackets
  • college jackets

 Jackets that you’ll find in a vintage clothing shop may seem very expensive for a second-hand item. It is really recommended to invest more in vintage leather jackets since the quality was a lot better back then. The craftmanship was elevated, and they didn’t mass produce like they do today – that’s a reason enough for spending a bit more for a vintage jacket. 

Racer jackets are real eye-catchers with their different color combinations. They rather belong to the 90s era since Nascar and Chase Authentics jackets made them more popular. Fast fashion industries got inspired by the jackets because they quickly got the attention of the young adults; that’s why they started producing retro jackets with the same theme. 

College jackets are also one of the popular vintage items on the market. It’s definitely a must-have for people who are into the university look. Even if you wear basic from the bottom to the top, the college jacket will immediately give you a very cool vintage look. 

Inspired by the 80s and 90s style, the jeans jacket is still now a big hit. They got smaller with the size through the decades but now that vintage style has become a trend again, people search for oversize jeans jackets more and more.  


2. Vintage T-Shirts

Now hear me out – vintage T-Shirts are the most essential for the men’s vintage clothing wardrobe. You can see a genuine vintage T-Shirt from a big distance. They’re not only very rare from the imprint but also quality-wise. Fast fashion industries can copy imprints nowadays, but they can’t produce the same quality because it would be too expensive for them and their mass production. Back then, the products were usually made in USA or Mexico, while nowadays, China is the most common production country. 

Here are some cool examples of wearing vintage T-Shirts: 

  • Harley Davidson T-Shirts
  • Band T-Shirts 
  • College T-Shirts
  • Sportswear T-Shirts

Harley Davidson is a brand that lived a long life, but it is still very popular. Hand in hand with band T-Shirts, they’re one the most commonly worn and loved pieces by vintage lovers. For people who are more into the vintage varsity scene, college T-Shirts are the most suited, and usually, they also go hand in hand with sportswear T-Shirts. Often college T-Shirts are from brands like Hanes or Champion, while Sportswear T-Shirts are usually from Nike, Adidas, etc.

If you’re lucky while thrift shopping, you’ll find a very rare men’s T-Shirt! The other blog, “10 Tips for Identifying Vintage Clothing Labels,” shows you how to identify a true vintage piece. 


3. Vintage Pants 

The pair of pants you’re wearing is a fundamental piece for your outfit since it also decides which way your style is going. For instance, chino pants are suitable for a classical look, while cargo pants rather give your outfit more of a street style vibe. Both are very common and popular in the vintage fashion scene, especially the pants from Carhartt and Dickies. 

The Levi’s jeans are also a big must-have for vintage wearers, but you have to differentiate between the models since each model has a different cut. The Levi’s 565, for instance, has a wider cut, while the 506 is more flared. If you spend a bit of time figuring out which models suit you best, you’ll know exactly which one you need in which size. 


4. Vintage Shirts 

In the 15th century, different fabrics of shirts were made, such as wool, linen, and silk. It has been worn for centuries, and it is still essential and counts as vintage and day-to-day lifestyle essentials. After the minimalism up from the 90s, the shirts usually kept their original color – white. Since vintage came back, people dared to look out for different types of shirts: 

  • Party shirts
  • Hawaii shirts
  • Flannel shirts
  • Polo shirts 

These are only a few from tons of different shirts – long or short-sleeved. Party shirts are short-sleeved with different kinds of patterns, while Hawaii shirts are usually characterized by palm tree leaves, flowers, or surfboards. Flannel Shirts can also count as modern, but the 90s skater look consists of them. Polo Shirts were invented in the 19th century; in 1871, they gained popularity in England and worldwide. 

5. Accessories 

 Accessories are essential to sum up an outfit overall since they give it more character, whether it’s a cap, bandana, sunglasses, or rings. If you’re more of a sporty guy, a cap will do its work, but if you’re more of a grunge person, really cool black sunglasses and silver rings finish up your outfit. It is up to you since it is your personal style. 


These clothing essentials are good to consider in the beginning. After finding your vintage style, you’ll create your own vintage essentials for yourself and your wardrobe. It can either be a long or short journey, it depends but do not forget to rethink every time which clothing you would rather wear and when you feel the most comfortable. Confidence is crucial, and having an outfit that brings the best out of you will help you gain it more and more: vintage clothing has its effect, you’ll see!




Meet The Author

Dan Shewan

Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.

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