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Womens Vintage T shirts

March 14, 2015

Up until the 1950s, Womens vintage t shirts were regarded as underwear, to be worn under shirts, not as a garment you could wear on its own .A little like vests today, if you were a man wearing a t shirt you may have been playing sport or on the beach, or simply sitting around in your underwear. If you were a woman wearing a t shirt… well, you probably didn’t.

Women’s t shirts vintage styles

Interestingly, in the vogue for sports and beachwear of the Twenties and Thirties, you see women wearing square necked, quite high cut vests with sturdy straps, but not the more concealing t shirt.


Chanel used jersey fabric, but she didn’t fashion it into the t shirt shape.


Debbie Harry does nautical


By the Fifties James Dean came along, proudly wearing his t shirt with jeans and a leather jacket, and the t shirt was suddenly sexy. Um, for men.


It wasn’t until 1971 that Ralph Lauren made male style t shirts for females, which fitted in very much with his aesthetic of masculine trouser suits, over sized shirts, and shoulder-padded jackets for women.


Photo of model Beate Schultz by Mellon Tytell, 1972


There are some fitted 70s Womens Vintage T shirts about, usually used for sports and proudly bearing the name of a local team or the brand that made it, and others advertising holiday destinations or sometimes businesses.


As well as a crew neck version (often with contrast trim) polo shirts were popular.


70s tennis player

The 1980s

It was around the 80s that companies got the idea to make promotional t shirts with slogans, and in 1984 Katherine Hamnett brilliantly co-opted the idea, by wearing a long t shirt emblazoned with ‘58% DON’T WANT PERSHING’ to meet then-prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.


It was a protest against the Pershing missiles which were being used in the UK and across Europe at the time, and was a widely syndicated photo and a brave move.


Thatcher & katherine hamnett-1984


80’s Womens Vintage T shirts also come in the form of punkish ripped and shredded tees, popularized by the punks and by Vivienne Westwood’s “Sex” shop. They are also available printed with the Sex Pistols ironic “God Save the Queen” image.


Vivienne Westwood in provocative t shirt


Womens Vintage T shirts are also to be found printed with all sorts of other band’s logos, and original tour shirts are really popular.


It’s also possible to find an awful lot of t shirts and sweatshirts printed with baskets of cute kittens and puppies, howling wolves and other animals. This was a huge 80s trend, and you’ll find contemporary copies of these vintage designs in abundance too. Different cartoon and Disney characters were trendy as well.

Womens Vintage T shirts-Alice Cooper Vintage tour T shirt from Blue17

Alice Cooper Vintage tour T shirt from Blue17


Womens Vintage T shirts-Minnie vintage T shirt from Blue17

Minnie vintage T shirt from Blue17


Womens Vintage T shirts are an inexpensive vintage shop buy, and have the advantage that the older and more battered they look, they better.


They don’t suffer from a print that’s been washed almost to obliteration, it just adds to the charm. They also, just like today’s tees, are easy to wash and don’t need special attention like hand washing or dry cleaning. Just bung them in the washing machine as usual.


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