Aesthetics Explorations 2020: Vintage

The “Vintage” aesthetic was formed from the modern recreation of the 70s-90s style. The vintage aesthetic can be illustrated through many different mediums such as fashion, photography and even furniture. It’s also an aesthetic with the purpose of showing individuality and uniqueness.

[1] This image shows the style of fashion and photography that defines the “Vintage” aesthetic.

In the past, thrifting or wear old clothes owned by other people had a bad stigma to it. It was seen as a lack of money. But within the last decade, thrifting has became more and more popular. As people began pushing the idea of sustainability and recycling, thrifting all-the-sudden blew up. People began loving the idea of re-wearing or re-purposing old clothes for the purpose of saving the environment. As thrifting started gaining momentum, the “Vintage” aesthetic became more defined. When you think of thrifted clothing, most people would normally think of old, over-sized t-shirts with some rock band on it and baggy jeans that were faded in color. That’s exactly what defines the vintage fashion. Other accessories that could be categorized as vintage could be oval or circular sunglasses with red or yellow lens or leather belts.

[2] Light washed, baggy jeans and an over-sized t-shirt with a leather belt.


[3] Red colored, circular sunglasses.

Another aspect of the “Vintage” aesthetic can be see through photography. There are certain characteristic that can make an image “vintage”. Vintage photography usually has subtle colors similar light pastel colors. They’re usually extremely washed out or over exposed. Vintage photos also usually have warmer tones and colors such as yellow, orange, and red. However, often times if there isn’t a predominant color or a warmer tone, the color scheme can be extremely vibrant and over saturated.


[4] This photo has a warm tone to it with the yellow from the heels and the orange skin tone of the girl.

Vintage photos also have a signature composition to them as well. Usually vintage photography includes a lot of noise or “fuzziness”. This gives off the look of a low-resolution photo taken on an old vintage film camera. Polaroid cameras have gained increasing popularity because of the vintage aesthetic. Many vintage photos also have a specific overlay added to them. This overlay often includes “Play” on either top corner of the photo as well as the time the photo was taken and the date it was taken on.


[5] This photo has a lot of noise which gives it a old film look.

Another characteristic of vintage photography is the flash from the camera. Vintage photos usually show the subject under an intense light from the flash. The flash can’t be controlled and often over exposed the subjects in the photos. Making whites almost blinding to look at and creating an extreme amount of contrast from a dark background.

A sub-category of the vintage aesthetic is the retro style. The retro style includes bright neon colors with geometric shapes. It can also be defined through the technology and accessories used during the 80s. Accessories such as Walkmans or Casio watches are popular for retro styling.


[6] This image can be seen with many different neon colors and many geometric shapes.








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6 Comments. Leave new

  • i eat poop

  • Muhammad shakeel
    April 10, 2021 12:31 pm
  • Christopher Lehr
    February 5, 2020 12:57 pm

    I absolutely love the vintage aesthetic and am so glad you brought it up. I shoot a lot of photography and love the classic film camera looks they are the most pure forms of visuals to me. I find it funny how you mentioned the round red glasses because I actually just used those in a photo shoot. Overall love this post and the different aspects of vintage you mentioned!

  • Bryan,
    I find it interesting how popular this aesthetic got over the last decade, perhaps it has to do with an older generation enjoying the nostalgia that it brings. It is also interesting to see how this aesthetic has played a role in the media we consume every day. Without a doubt you could open any social media and find a post that fits your description of this aesthetic, in fact “Vintage” is usually a filter on any photo editing app. It is also interesting to see it applied to a lot of shows and movies that are really popular, Netflix’s Stranger Things comes to mind. How do you suppose this aesthetic will change in the upcoming decades? Do you think that it will transition to include popular styles of the early to late 2000’s or will Vintage forever be defined by the 70’s – 90’s?

    • That’s a really great question. I think the definition of vintage and the aesthetic will move with time. I think in the future decades to come, the aesthetic will move from the 70’s – 90’s to the early 2000’s. I believe this will be the case as people get bored of the current definition and look for change.


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