How To Dress Like a Millennial While Wearing Retro Clothes

Millennials are more than just an overused meme subject: they’re having a legitimate fashion moment.

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Millennials are more than just an overused meme subject: they’re having a legitimate fashion moment. Find out how to emulate this fresh look with the help of retro clothes. 

Why Wear Vintage? It’s so retro.

Over the last several years, people have been becoming more and more aware of fast fashion and the poor effect on our climate that the constant cycle of buying and trashing textiles is having. This has had two excellent effects. First, the rise in awareness of the state of the climate crisis we are in. And second, the push for people to have more fun with fashion, working to reuse and upcycle these vintage pieces.

To start, if you have clothes that you must get rid of and cannot resell or donate (think stained, torn, or just entirely too worn), take a moment to search for or reach out to your local town or city hall to find out about textile recycling programs near you: the less product that hits landfills, the better. Local donation centers are excellent options for passing on your used items that are still in wearable condition. 

Now, if you’re thinking of adding a little retro to your closet, there are a few things to consider. Take with you as you shop for your unique and potentially even one-of-a-kind pieces. But first, let’s take a look at what exactly makes clothes “retro.”

Defining “Vintage” or “Retro” Clothes

When you hear the word retro, what do you think of? Do you ever wonder what requirements there are for something to be truly called vintage or retro? Terminology can get confusing, and you want to be sure you know what you’re buying, so let us explain here.

These words simply mean “from the past,” though defining the past is where the difficulty comes in. Vintage clothing is usually at least 20 years old or more while retro is typically anything secondhand and/or mimics a past era.

Something else to remember about vintage and retro clothes is that while these items may have been commonplace at the time, but could be exceedingly rare today. This can make for a lot of opportunities in creating unique looks. Though with opportunity comes some challenges.

Finally, millennials are all about sustainability, so shopping vintage is an absolute must. It’s kinder for the environment and (if you are a thrifter) for your wallets. 

Challenges of Buying Retro Clothes

With all the fun that comes with scouting out retro clothes, you may come to some obstacles. Since these clothes are no longer mass-produced, you may come across the perfect piece only to realize they don’t have it in your size. And what’s worse? It can’t be reordered either. This is truly the main challenge when shopping vintage. In our tips below, we’ll cover how to ensure the perfect fit!

Millennials are great at using the Internet, but we still give a few tips on how to make shopping retro super easy. This is why it is so important that items at Thrilling are sold and shipped from the indie boutiques themselves that ensure you are getting exactly what you see here online. No surprises, small business support, and keeping clothes out of landfills—what could be better than that! All items have their condition listed in the product description to the right of the photos.

Shopping Tips

Sizing: Rules are For Board Games, Not Genders

Sizing today is very different from sizing just a few years ago, nonetheless from decades back. Be sure to check the item’s actual measurements against your own body measurements before purchasing. If you wear a medium in current sizing, you may very well have to go up to a large or extra-large, depending on the brand and how old the piece is.

It’s important to keep sizing in mind because for millennials, gender norms are so yesterday (but not in a fun retro way). We love an inclusive moment for gender...and that includes fashion. So if you are normally a woman’s large but a men’s medium, keep that in mind when searching for the perfect band tee. Our society has definitely changed since the ‘70s, and so have our sizes. 

Investment Pieces: Levi’s

Gen-Z is in love with their high-waisted pants and mom jeans, but true millennials will remember the fad of skinny, low-rise jeans. You watched your favorite Disney channel star rock these pants every Friday night at 9 pm, and you still can get that look. Millennials love the brands they saw growing up: enter Guess jeans. These Guess low-rise skinny jeans are peak millennial and will make all your snap-bracelet, Scholastic book fair memories return. 

Consider the Era

If you have a certain aesthetic you are looking for, that’s great. But be wary of buying stand-out pieces that you don’t have a way of incorporating into your day-to-day life. Without the ability to properly blend unique and interesting pieces into your current style, they could look like a costume.

Millennials love athleisure, and it is so comfy; who can blame them? Consider taking a pair of matching sweat suit pieces and putting them on a break from each other. Wear a vintage sweatshirt top with those ripped leggings you love. It’ll be totally unique and perfectly cozy. 

To Alter or Not to Alter?

Now that is a tough question. Once you find the perfect retro clothes to add to your closet, the next step is contemplating whether or not to tailor them. 

  • Pros to tailoring- custom fit, more personalized fit, and modernization of older pieces.
  • Cons of tailoring- potentially decreasing the item’s value if you ever intended to resell, taking away from the integrity of the original craftsmanship, and running the risk of ruining the item altogether.

We recommend using your best judgment. Going to your local tailor is a great idea. Asking for help is always your best bet. 

Master the Millennial Look: Retro Style

All in all, shopping for retro clothes can be a ton of fun. You just have to go in with an open mind. Remember that the odds of finding one specific item may be very small, but broadening your horizons to pre-loved items brings decades’ worth of fashion to your fingertips.

Keep these tips in mind while you shop, and be sure to check your measurements! And if something doesn’t fit or no longer serves you, resell it, donate it, or find a local textile recycling program. Together we can put an end to the wastefulness of fast fashion and work to lessen our environmental impact.

So, if you’re a millennial or wanting to mimic the look, grab some authentic vintage pieces and rock that side part. Too bad you can’t log into MySpace anymore because your friends need to see this look. 


Why buying vintage clothes is ‘the new luxury’ | BBC

How to Buy Vintage Clothing: 5 Ways to Find Vintage Clothes - 2021 | Master Class

The New Rules of Style According to Millennials | Men's Journal

4 Reasons Why Asking For Help Makes You A Stronger, Not Weaker, Leader | Forbes

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