Supercharge Your Style With Vintage T-Shirts
I hope you'll agree vintage T-Shirts are really awesome, a totally legit way to express your hipness, and not to mention, nice and comfortable. In this post we share the secrets to finding authentic vintage shirts.
Part of a series on Vintage Clothing
Vintage T-Shirts are a huge area of interest and there's no more fun way to find the authentic items you're looking for than by checking out estate sales. To begin, lets try to understand the categories of T-Shirts. There are so many T-Shirts out there you'll be hardpressed to even begin to understand the range that T-Shirts encompass. Suffice it to say, pretty much every witty saying ever spoken, a million quotes, fictional and non-fictional events, quite possibly everything that humanity has ever thought has been turned into a T-Shirt... Yes that is a bit of a joke, but the truth is a lot has gone into T-Shirts over the decades, especially since the 1980's.
Biggest Categories of Vintage T-Shirts
The T-shirt didn't become popular as a fashion item until the 1950's, and it wasn't until the 1960's and 1970's that the concept of the graphic T-Shirt really took off. Initially it was bands that wanted to promote themselves who distributed large numbers of T-Shirts and got their fans working over time proudly avertising their music choices. Thus a classic genre of T-Shirt was born... the band graphic T-Shirt. Bands to look out for would be anything that was popular starting with the Beatles. Be particularly aware of bands that have broken up and are defunct today. If a band is no longer working that naturally limits the options for acquiring new shirts of that band and ups the ante on the classic shirt market.
Of course, an authentic vintage Beatles T-Shirt could be worth a lot of money and probably won't slip by the watchful eye of the Estate Liquidator handling the Estate Sale. But, many other bands with less popular but steadfast cult followings might slip by, such as the Grateful Dead, and could be worth a lot as well.
Second after the band shirt would be the movie shirt. Even though tens of thousands if not millions of them were made, vintage shirts from large movies like Star Wars might be worth a couple hundred bucks today. And smaller cult films might garner more depending on the film and who is associated with it. Hollywood collectors can be a fickle bunch but when you find something they like you'll find yourself sitting on a nice little pile of cash. Use your senses (and google) to try to understand the shirt's provenance and maybe you'll get lucky! Pretty much any 80's movie would be a huge find in my opinion, things like Star Wars, ET, Jaws, Karate Kid, or The Goonies, would be amazing vintage T-Shirt finds.
Another popular genre of vintage T-Shirts is popular brands. Coca Cola, Harley Davidson, Disney characters, anything with a long and established history in American culture is a good bet to have value to collectors. Brand collecting has a unique history in American culture and T-Shirts are a popular way for brands to spread the word of their products. American's are natural consumers and as such we're proud of our choices and want to share some of them with the world. It's a great way for businesses to be culturally relevant, hip, and engaged with their customer base. Anything that is vintage and sends that message to you is probably a cool find even if it isn't super valuable.
How To Tell If A Vintage Shirt Is Authentic
If you're at an Estate Sale looking at the bulk clothing you're probably spending 5 dollars or less, so does it really matter if it's authentic?? As the old saying goes, if the shirt fits, wear it!! (Or was it if the shoe fits??) If you need something more concrete to guide your decisions, looking at tags can be a way to tell if something is legitimate. But you're probably best off googling an image of a legitimate example and comparing it to your own. Take careful note of the color of the shirt, the size of the graphic in relation to the rest of the T-shirt, and the proportions of the shirt. Many times fakes will be cut differently from the original or the graphic will be out of proportion compared to the original. That said, if it says Star Wars on it, hell, it's a Star Wars shirt, it may not be worth much buy you can still be a Jedi and wear it proudly.
I hope you'll agree vintage T-Shirts are really awesome, a totally legit way to express your hipness, and not to mention, nice and comfortable.
Good luck and happy hunting!
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