CALL US NOW: 0207-700-2354
FREE UK shipping on orders £40+ (excl. sale items)

The rich heritage and modern reinvention of mens retro silk shirts

December 18, 2019

Take a tour through fashion history to see how mens retro silk shirts have evolved into the wide variety of dress shirts and more casual wear choices of today.


Look back through the ages at the fascinating stories behind mens retro silk shirts, then see how designer vintage wear is rocking today’s catwalks by Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and other fashion houses, and learn how to incorporate these vintage men trends in real life.

Mens retro silk shirts rocking the runway

 Vintage men silk shirts are back in a big way, no longer over-the-top 1970s disco style, but reimagined in long sleeve dress shirts and modern takes on throwbacks like the Hawaiian shirt and western shirts.


So how did the trend evolve?



The story of silk

Silk originated in China in the 4th century BC.  It was exported to the West via the renowned Silk Road some centuries later. So why did this fabric become so popular for mens retro silk shirts?  Of all other natural fibres, silk has the most luxurious look and feel, is very durable and strong, provides excellent breathability and absorbs moisture, keeping the wearer dry and cool on hot days, and dry and warm when it’s cold.


The combination of these advantages makes this fabric a top choice for vintage shirts globally, from the ancient East to modern day interpretations. With silk being tough but lightweight, looking high-end but being extremely durable, keeping the body at optimal temperatures and wicking away moisture, this fabric also repels mould and mildew, making it the perfect fit for mens retro silk shirts throughout the fashion ages.

Silk Production in Japan - Weighing Raw Silk

Silk Production in Japan – Weighing Raw Silk


An elevated everyday look

Mens retro silk shirts look more polished and sophisticated than other natural fibres like cotton, linen or wool, especially for elevating an everyday look. Silk easily holds on to dyes, can be embellished with monograms and is an easy-care fabric. Vintage shirts through the ages have embraced this fabrication and you also see it in sweaters, sleepwear, robes and jackets.

You probably already own a silk shirt or two, given the popularity and longevity of this fabric.  Silk is likely also used to as lining for your favourite vintage men inspired suits and in the making of your ties, socks and handkerchiefs for formal wear.


You can even find silk incorporated into thermal underwear due to its excellent breathability and moisture wicking properties. With this walk back through the origins of silk as a fashion fabric, we now look forward to the top ways to elevate your look today with mens retro silk shirts incorporated into your style persona.

Tommy Ridgley rocks mens retro silk shirts

Tommy Ridgley in his silk shirt


Rocking mens retro silk shirts today

While silk as a utilitarian fabric can be found in all kinds of clothing items through all the ages of fashion, mens retro silk shirts as they are reworked today have a relatively recent reference to vintage men fashion.


  • The 1970s revival over the past few years and into current trends saw the popularity of printed, patterned and single coloured silk shirts in more relaxed and everyday looks that work so well with your modern favourite jeans, chinos or cargoes.


  • Then there is the timeless popularity of mens retro silk shirts for formal wear, usually in long sleeve button-down styles, worn with classic suits in heritage fabrications.


Between these two opposite ends of patterned, printed and single color silk shirts style continuum and how to find the perfect balance between them, here is how to rock your vintage silk shirt today


  • Go casual but not sloppy:  think of the cool laid-back vibes of the Hawaiian shirtor western shirts, then look for that vibe in a more fitted, tailored cut and finish your look with a vintage blazer over jeans or a classic vintage moto jacket for uber cool style.


Calvin Klein
  • Rock western shirts the Calvin Klein way:  this renowned designer recently showcased printed, patterned and plain coloured silk shirts done the cowboy way.  Find yourself some Klein western shirts with heritage colour blocking and rock them with your current favourite jeans for that quintessential Americana vibe.

Ron Bailey loves mens retro silk shirts

Ron Bailey in his silk shirt, 1992


Polo shirt style
  • Mens retro silk shirts in polo shirt styles:  today’s version of the vintage-inspired silk shirt done the polo way is all about a sleek, tailored silhouette in a fine gauge knit and with a hint of sheen to emphasis the luxurious fabrication.


Other spins on this kind of shirt in sporty styles include colour-blocked short sleeve tees reminiscent of rugby shirt styles, with the added benefits of keeping the wearer both feeling and looking cool, and wicking away moisture.

  • Designer vintage makes a comeback:  everyone from Gucci, Etro, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren have presented their own interpretations of printed, patterned and single coloured silk shirts done the modern way.


Their designs are tailored to those style-savvy consumers who want to rock mens retro silk shirts from the dance club to the boardroom and everywhere in between.


Switch between digital scenescapes to animal prints for your party wear, as the mood takes you, but notice that the modern way to wear mens retro silk shirts is structured and classy, whether paired with jeans or a dress pant.

Steve Morse wears mens retro silk shirts

Steve Morse, 1999


Where to source your Ralph Lauren mens retro silk shirts

Here are some of the top places to find the best combination of price and quality for your Ralph Lauren mens retro silk shirts.


  • Etsy: Etsy offers you original, authentic vintage shirts which means one-of-a-kind looks that make sure you stand out from the crowd. At Esty you will find mens retro silk shirtsin Ralph Lauren polo styles, with coordinated designer vintage Ralph Lauren silk scarves to elevate your look.

The rich heritage and modern reinvention of mens retro silk shirts

80s Dark Geometric Silk Shirt

  • Ebay: Another great source of all things Ralph Lauren, you will find mens retro silk shirts done the Hawaiian shirt way, in designer vintage colours and patterns, perfect for amplifying your casual everyday style. Or look for Ralph Lauren red silk long sleeve shirts to really make a style statement.


Then there are the classic and timeless Ralph Lauren polo mens shirt styles in button-down style, perfect for dressing up casual Friday.


  • Beyond Retro: Beyond Retro offers you a wide varietyof mens retro silk shirts from designer vintage collections by Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Van Heusen and Pendleton.

He definately wears mens retro silk shirts

He definately wears mens retro silk shirts


The Calvin Klein way

If your taste runs to Calvin Klein style, here are the best places to source your mens retro silk shirts done the Calvin Klein way.


  • Ebay again! Yes, eBay is still a prime destination for all things designer vintage. Here, you will find the best deals on Calvin Klein silk blend versions of mens retro silk shirts, at affordable price points and with durable quality.


You will also find casual short sleeve silk shirts from Klein, in go-with-everything shades of olive green or in T-shirt styles that rock a pair of jeans.

  • Calvin Klein: Visit the designer’s online store for a modern, curated collection of mens silk shirts. Discover everything from casual to formal shirts that take you from day to night with flair.


  • Beyond Retro: Once more, beyond Retro offers you a range of vintage Calvin Klein mens silk shirts in excellent condition and at very affordable prices.   Everything from polo tee shirts to classic dress shirts are available at this online site.


So, don’t wait any longer.  Go find yourself some timeless mens retro shirts to inspire you to add that essential dash of designer vintage wear to your everyday look.