How to Dress Retro? Inspiration, Outfit Ideas and More

how to dress retro

Every time one thinks of retro fashion, flashbacks of big curly hair and glitter cat eyeliners with long flapper pants and crop tops come to one’s mind. When we wonder “how to dress retro” we don’t instantly think of men. With all the hippie, mod, and military subcultures making their return, it’s nice to see menswear seek inspiration from the wild retro trends of the 50s, 60s, and 70s men’s fashion.

Despite having a strong presence in the fashion industry, retro is still deemed risky – it’s easy to make a fool of oneself than hit it right on the nail. And with so many bold options, how can a person navigate the big bad world of retro vogue? And the most important question in this conversation, what is retro? Are there distinctions between the different eras of retro style? If you’re a man, continue reading this blog post to find how to dress retro!

What is Retro? 

how to wear retro dress

When you Google the term retro, you find some websites define retro as fashion that is reminiscent of the past; it is. The term retro means revival and is most commonly used in relation to fashion and style, sometimes music. Retro fashion can be described as the old-fashioned trends that induce feelings of nostalgia. They remind you of the time when the war ended and cocktail parties and discos became the rage, especially amongst the youth.

Retro Fashion Timeline

When you think of menswear, dress pants and dress shirts instantly comes to mind; every man has this outfit readily available in the closet. What makes this classic duo an instant retro is its style and tailoring. 

For example, for most of the 50s, the basic dress pants were wide legged and high-waisted, but by the 60s, these pants witnessed a major transformation as they became more slim fit. 

Do you know that the Hawaiian shirts that you see literally every man wear these days is also retro? The bold prints, loose fitting and bright colors are all revived back from the past! And of course, who can forget to skip the grandpa shirts? You know the ones with two giant chest pockets with the palewave color scheme? They’re also considered  retro aka blast from the past! 

It’s true that the fashion trends of the 50s,60s, and 70s have heavily influenced our capsule wardrobes today. Our liking of old fashioned clothing is not something to be dismissive about because like everything else in life, what goes around comes around. 

Difference between Retro and Vintage

You must have heard terms like antique, retro and vintage be used interchangeably. They loosely denote the same things but are they really the same? The simple answer to this question is no. 

Antique is any item that is at least a hundred years old; a rarity. When it comes to vintage, it can be anything that has lived less than a century but more than two decades. Some people claim that in order to be “true vintage” the item in question has to be at least 50 years old. And here’s when the actual confusion begins; difference between vintage and retro. 

Many people alternate between retro and vintage because the common perception is that they’re both two sides of the same coin. They are but retro doesn’t really have to be old. On the contrary, anything that is retro can be brand new. It’s just the style and appearance of it that is old school and reminiscent of the old eras. Retro can be a replication of an item or emotion that stems from the past. Everything vintage, on the other hand, is anything that is from a specific era. For example, a vintage seventies car or a vintage sixties belt. 

Understanding the difference between vintage and retro helps us see why the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. For instance, instead of retro looks or retro outfits we often say vintage outfits or vintage attire for men. 

How to Dress Retro Style for Men

If you’re interested in dressing retro, we can help you create a retro look for men. Below we’re going to tackle a series of questions like, how to dress retro professionally or how to dress retro punk, etc. We’ll give you a basic guideline of what’s retro and what isn’t along with subtle outfit ideas.     

Retro Shirt and Modern Jackets

how to wear retro dress

As we mentioned, retro doesn’t mean clothes that have already lived longer than your existence. Thus, instead of raiding your grandfather’s wardrobe, look for individualistic pieces that define fashion of the past decade. Retro shirts have buckle collars and they’re mostly dark and bold in shade. You can pair a biker jacket with a buckle collar with a lighter toned dress shirt. Remember as we said before, the shirt should have huge chest pockets and a baggy look

Leather Jacket with Jeans

how to wear retro dress

Leather jackets with jeans are part of every modern men’s fashion closet. Of course, it is essential for the leather jacket to look vintage and part of the elite club. Leather jackets in general have a longer shelf life and their silhouette and fabric are a reflection of the past. The way they’re cut and to the way they’ve been stitched are truly iconic. Make sure that the pieces you select have a character and a story behind them. 

Light Denim Jeans

how to wear retro dress

There’s nothing more retro than light blue denim jeans. You want a pair of blue jeans that is straight-cut and slightly more high-waisted. It should be mobile and flexible. And here’s when things get exciting, it’s not just the denim jeans or its tailoring that makes it retro but also the way it’s styled. You want to wear light denim on casual occasions with a dark blazer. 

Shearling Jackets

how to wear retro dress

A shearling bomber jacket is a must if you’re planning to create a retro wardrobe. This jacket is reminiscent of the 70s and make sure you make it sheepskin to give it a soft feel. Shearling is undoubtedly the most versatile jacket and the collar trim on the bomber makes a standout feature. Shearling jackets made from authentic and real leather and the ones that are fully lined are the ones to look out for. You can mix and match with jeans and dress pants. 

Turtleneck sweaters with Winter Coats

how to wear retro dress

There’s nothing more retro than turtlenecks. We all remember how turtlenecks raided literally every attire in our childhood. We wore it with everything, especially the women. It sometimes looks disastrous but if you pair them with winter coats and slim-fit jeans, you can actually look stylish and modern. Play with monochrome; a beige turtleneck with a suede Harrington is an instant win!

Lapel Jackets

how to wear retro dress

It’s true that to create a retro look, you have to pay special attention to the outerwear. And if you wish to create a peak retro look, you should definitely go for a double-breasted blazer or sports jacket that has broad shoulders, possibly shoulder epaulettes. This would be a perfect smart casual look.


How do you dress in casual vintage?

Wear light denim jeans with a broad shouldered and double breasted sports jacket to create a casual vintage look. As for the footwear, choose white sneakers or suede shoes.

What is modern retro style?

Modern retro style can be the fashion trends from the 70s and beyond. It’s a style that is not too old and not too modern either. You can have that classic back to school or throwback Thursday vibe.

In Conclusion

Thus, it can be established that it is not how to dress retro. Once you understand and become aware of the trends of the past, you can easily make your own style that is modern yet old school and nostalgic. From shearling bombers to light blue straight-cut jeans and lapel jackets, there’s much to play with in this area of classic style. 

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