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How to Style a Vintage Tee

Complement vs Contrast

When it comes to styling a vintage t-shirt as part of your everyday streetwear, we have two favourite ways of doing so—either complementing your vintage sports t-shirt with other old-school retro pieces, or contrasting it with modern cuts and designs.

Complementing Your Vintage T-Shirt

If you want to maximise your throwback look, then don’t be afraid to lean into other retro pieces to complement your vintage t-shirt. We like to take styling cues from the 80s and 90s when piecing together an outfit.

What does this mean? Denim, studded leather, distressed clothing, oversized cuts and bright colours are all influences in our outfits. Take inspiration from grunge, old-school hip-hop and retro biker styles. Here are some of our favourite pieces to complement your vintage sports t-shirt:

  • Jeans: Like what Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan, jeans are the perfect partnership to a vintage sports t-shirt. However, not any variety will do. Be inspired by retro styles such as ripped jeans, flares, baggy and acid wash designs.
  • Denim Shorts: If it’s too hot for jeans, then denim shorts are the next best thing. Similar to jeans, choose a retro style to fit your look. We love ripped denim shorts with frayed ends for a retro grunge look to pair with our vintage tee.
  • Jackets: Our go-to’s for layering over a throwback tee would definitely have to be denim jackets, leather jackets or a classic varsity jacket. All these styles work well to complement the overall vintage aesthetic of your look.
  • Long Sleeve T-Shirt: For a true 90s look, grab a vintage tee one size up and wear it over the top of a long sleeve t-shirt. Everyone from Shaq to Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon all rocked this look back in the day so you know it’s on-point.
  • Sneakers: The final piece of the puzzle to any vintage t-shirt outfit, is footwear. Since we are creating a retro ensemble, we will want to complement our look with old-school sneakers rather than anything modern.

Contrasting Your Vintage T-Shirt

Compared to complementing your tees with other retro style clothing, contrasting your vintage sports t-shirt with modern cuts and pieces helps create a balance between old and new. We are a big fan of this look as there is so much you can do with it.

From Dwayne Wade to Kelly Oubre Jr., many current players love to showcase old-school brands and teams as part of their style. There is a lot of inspiration we can take from their off-court outfits to help form the basis of our looks.

  • Athleisure: Comfortable and sporty, who doesn’t love the athleisure trend? Whether you’re about to hit the paint or repping your team at home, a vintage sports t-shirt pairs well with leggings and sports shorts. Even better, grab a pair of matching team shorts for the complete look.
  • Jeans: For a modern look, we need a modern fit. Skinny and straight-leg cuts in blues, blacks, greys and indigoes offer a great balance to a distressed tee. That being said, a few subtle rips in a skinny jean will also play into the modern-retro look you’re creating.
  • Jackets: When the temperatures drop, you’ll want to look at layering your tee. Most modern cuts of jackets and coats will work, but bombers and parkas in particular look great. A denim jacket is also a good option, but you’ll want to keep it simple and leave the studs and any retro appliques at home if building a contemporary look.
  • Chinos: Offering a bit more formality than jeans, chinos help balance the look of a faded vintage tee. We like to contrast the colour of the shirt with our chinos. For example, if we are rocking a white Toronto Raptors vintage t-shirt, pair it with dark grey, black or navy chinos. On the other hand, a black throwback Chicago Bulls tee would pair well with sand-coloured chinos.
  • Blazers: If you’re aiming to create a ‘young entrepreneur’ look, a vintage sports t-shirt layered with an unstructured blazer is the way to go. Many of the current top players such as LeBron and Curry have taken it upon themselves to showcase the look, so why not join the trend.

Tips for Styling a Vintage Sports Tee

Whether you’re embracing the retro look or blending your throwback tee with modern pieces, here are a few of our favourite tips when wearing a vintage sports t-shirt:

Tucked or untucked: If you’re wanting to call back to the greats of the 80s and 90s (think Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon), then tuck your tee in. If you want a more modern look, leave it untucked.

Let the t-shirt be the focus: If you’re aim is to showcase your favourite retro tee, then make sure it’s the focus of the outfit. Complement the colours of the t-shirt throughout the rest of your look with accessories such as a cap or snapback.

On the hunt for your new favourite retro tee? Shop our range of vintage NBA and NFL t-shirts at Mitchell & Ness Australia now.

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