How To Make A Shirt Look Vintage?

Everyone has their personal tastes and preferences when it comes to dressing. For instance, there are those who have a passion for vintage shirts and they cannot help craving for them. In fact, making shirts look vintage has been an ongoing trend. You will find this fashion trend both in the indie and mainstream fashion industries.

Unlike what most people would think, shirts that have been made to look vintage can cost an arm and a leg. Fortunately, it is also possible for you to make your own shirts look vintage instead of buying them. The know-how of making vintage shirts saves you a considerable amount of money.

How To Make A Shirt Look Vintage

Preparing the shirt for a vintage look

After choosing the shirt that you want to work on, you must wash it. Regardless of whether the garment that you want to alter is brand new or you have worn it for a few times, you should wash it. New clothes, including shirts come with dyes and coatings that may hamper the bleach from working.

Therefore, even if the shirt is not dirty, it is necessary to wash it to get rid of the dyes and coatings. Also get rid of shrinkage before starting the vintage process.

You may like to read about: How to Laminate Paper at Home & At any time and Heat Transfer vs. Screen Printing & What The Difference

What you need to do to make a shirt look vintage

Some of the characteristics of a vintage or worn garment are tears, and rips. So, if the shirt is new or used but still in good condition, you can make mechanical tears and rips. This goes well, especially with denim shirts.

You will choose the method that you can best use to make the shirt look worn. When making these rips and tears, you should be careful not to overdo it because that would make you look like you are wearing a rag that you picked up somewhere. Scissors and razor blade can help you a lot when doing that.

Make several incisions on your shirt, and also rip the hem of the shirt. The results make the hem to look frayed; hence the overall appearance of the shirt looks vintage naturally.

Working on the collar and the cuffs

When you want to distress the hems of your cuffs or the edges of your collar, you can easily do it using a razor blade to clip the edges. Since natural wearing happens randomly in different parts of your shirt, you should also clip the hem and cuffs in like manner.

Random nicks create a well-worn look that looks almost natural. After making the tears, cuts, and clips on your shirt, wash it afterwards to soften the nicks and tears. This also starts the fraying process to make the cuts and tears appear natural.

Washing, especially with a detergent, helps fade out the colours quickly for a better vintage appearance. If you decide to use hot water to wash it, you should ensure that the fabric can withstand hot water to prevent it from shrinking.

Also read: How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts & The Best Way And How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl with Circuit

Use a dremel or sandpaper

Check the thickness of your fabric before deciding whether to use a dremel or sandpaper. If the thickness is good, these two work wonders in transforming and making your shirt to have a distressed look. It is very easy in making your shirt to have a vintage look in no time.

However, when you are using abrasive items on your shirt, you have to be careful because rough rubbing will ruin it. Mid weight fabrics can be worked on with a sandpaper, while dremel is apt for heavier ones. You should rub until you create a hole through the garment on the areas that often wear out on a shirt like the elbows.

Wash the garment after that to remove the sandpaper debris that could be left on the shirt. That also helps to make it look natural.

Bleaching and fading

Bleach is fading the colour. This is effective in many fabrics, but you should be careful because some fabrics cannot stand breach wash. Try this method on cotton fabric. After breaching the shirt, it will look vintage in a natural way.


You now have your vintage shirt without digging deep into your pocket to purchase it. When you clad in it with a matching pair of trousers and shoes, you will have achieved your desired look.

Suggested Articles

Leave a Comment