Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Retro Outfits for Women: As we look forward to more hopeful times, designers and fashion icons alike have dipped into the stylistic choices of yesteryear and brought them forward in a way that feels both nostalgic and wonderfully fresh. Yes, we are talking about the trends that we are seeing, both on the runway and peppering the catalogues of our favorite retailers.

Retro fashion has had a resurgence in popularity of late, from bold and shimmering colors à la disco era to old-fashioned paisley dresses to everything crochet. Bucket hats have been holding their own for over a year now and it’s not looking like they are going anywhere. These are just some of the trends that have been joyfully taking precedence both on the runway and off.

If you want to bring some of that goodness into your own wardrobe – or you are just curious about what’s trending in this niche – this is the post for you.

Here’s a quick summary of all that we’ll be talking about:

What is a Retro Outfit?

Let’s start by talking about what such clothing is and what it is not. Retro clothing is not technically vintage clothing. It is totally new, modern clothing that is created in a way to reference the styles, motifs, or materials of yesteryear. It doesn’t refer to a specific time period or decade (although we are seeing lots of the ’70s-inspired looks right now!) but gives the nod to the styles in which that clothing was first worn.

What is the Difference Between Retro & Vintage?

Vintage clothing is an original item aged between 20 and 100 years that is authentic. You might find vintage clothing in your local thrift store or by rifling through your mom’s closet.

Retro clothing is new but mimics the old. It’s not an original clothing pieces from the time it echoes, but it certainly imitates it. An example of this would be a pair of Levi’s jeans made in the ’90s versus a pair made today, that looks like it would have been worn in the ’90s

We did the research, so you don’t have to:

Tie-dye is everywhere in the fashion world, from Jimmy Choo’s tie-dye platform sandals to this Sea Tamara high-neck tie-dye top. But to keep it on-trend, avoid the highlighter yellow and neon green color scheme in favor of soft pastels.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Influencers and Instagram models have been rocking this trend. Even Gucci has created its high-end take on it.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Crochet

Crochet had its heyday in the ’70s and it’s back for round two. From sheer tanks to sun hats, Gen-Zs have discovered the summertime favorite and have made it their own.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year
  • 60s-style floral prints

If it looks like it belongs on your Grandma’s kitchen walls, you’ve got the right idea. Wallpaper florals are back and they are decorating the likes of midi skirts, chiffon dresses, and more.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year
  • Thong sandals

The ’90s called… and they like what we are doing. These sandals are very similar to flip flips and they look great with all kinds of casual looks.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year
  • Paisley dresses

Paisley isn’t just a scarf anymore. Here’s a paisley dress by Mango that we are totally in love with.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

These skirts are also trending in the fashion sphere and we’re seeing a lot of celebrities wearing them as part of their casual ootd.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Not it’s time to look at some practical and wearable retro outfits that you can try without feeling out of place.

Styling Tips on How to Get A Retro Look

Dressing retro just means utilizing the trends of yesteryear in a way that feels modern and nostalgic all at the same time. It can mean donning a full ’70s style outfit that your mom would approve of or it can mean bringing a few pieces into your look.

What decade you focus on is also up to you. The ’70s seem to be the most popular for style inspiration right now! Let’s have a look at these styling tips to get a perfect look.

18 – Go for Statement Making Bucket Hats with Minimalistic Dresses

When I came across this absolute STUNNER of a lady, I was bowled over. Not only is this a seriously stylish look I might possibly want to steal for myself, but it’s such a great example of how women of all ages can rock this style. Whether you’re a teen or in your fifties – this look won’t fail you.

You may not feel confident enough to wear tie-dye or a bucket hat, but you can definitely try this eyelet dress accented with hot pink accessories!

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17 – Pair Wide Legged Jeans with Cropped Tees and Cardigans

Teens have been incorporating vintage styles and pieces for the last couple of years (the nineties fashion trends are having a full renaissance over on TikTok) so some of the trends of this year are no surprise to the younger crowd.

From Grandma-style cardigans to wide-legged jeans, here you can see how the Gen-Z gals are rocking these trends.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

16 – Take Inspiration From the Streets of Fashion Weeks

When in doubt as to the current trends, all you need to do is take a look at what is being worn on the streets during Fashion Week. Here are a few highlights from Copenhagen’s Spring Fashion Week.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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15 – Graphic Sweater + High-Low Skirt Combo

Graphic sweaters are also very much on-trend right now, and lucky for us, they can definitely be considered retro pieces! (Very ’90s.)

I love how this gal created a comfortable, casual look that is also uber-stylish by pairing a graphic sweater with a high-low skirt (there’s our wallpaper floral!) and white sneakers.

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14 – Go for Baggy Fits

I love this baggier style of overalls (they look SO comfy) worn over a long-sleeved tee and paired with white sneakers. I’d take these over too-tight jeans any day.

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13 – Paisly Print Anything is a Yes!

These paisley dresses look so light and airy (perfect for summer) and they come in the prettiest colors too. I love the idea of padding around in my house in these – they are a one-and-done look you don’t have to put much effort into and that’s a major score in my book.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year
Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

12 – Make a Statement Bright Blue Jumpsuit

There’s something about this look that just screams “eighties” to me. It could be the bold blue or maybe it’s that subtle yellow stripe down the side. The belt over the zippered front and the elbow-length sleeves are another giveaway. This looks like a great outfit to wear to a retro-themed party or, you know, to visit your local Target because why not?

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

11 – The Wider the Pants, the Better

If there’s one trend I love this year, it’s the wide-legged pants one.

I’ve been anti-skinny jeans for years (I have worn them under protest only) and the fact that the rest of the world is finally catching on thrills me to no end. (Don’t worry, we can still be friends, even if you are an avid skinny-jeans wearer!)

Here’s a fantastic wide-legged pants look, paired with a baby blue print tee, round, tinted sunnies, and some fantastic gold hoops.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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10 – Give Your Tie Dye Tops a Knot

I’m not a fan of tie-dye myself, but if all tie-dyed tops looked like this, I just might convert! This breezy summer top is a great example of the trend. What to wear with it then becomes the next question. Some high-waist jeans are an obvious option but I also like the idea of wearing this with a denim midi skirt.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

9 – Experiment with Different Types of Tops

Anything style-wise from over 20 years ago is technically eligible for retro status. Whether that’s ’40s style slacks or ’90s style jeans.

So here are a few examples of pants you can try. I think they look best with a vintage-looking top so that can be a blouse, a knit sweater, or a floral button-down.

Footwear is also fun to play around with. You can try two-tone mules, patent white booties, or little kitten heels, just to name a few!

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

I LOVE the detailing on this puff-sleeve blouse!

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

And these jeans are pretty fantastic.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

8 – Flared Plaid Pants are a Win-Win

Here’s a ’60s-inspired look that makes me want to rock some plaid pants myself! Also, check out Cute Outfits with Flare Jeans.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

7 – Layer with a Biker Jacket

If you love a look with some edge, this is the one for you. I love the juxtaposition of a beaded necklace (which echoes a pearl necklace, of course) with a belted biker jacket.

Not only is it super flattering and gives this curvy lady the gorgeous silhouette, but paired with a bold print skirt, some slight cat-eye sunglasses, chunky strappy heels… And girl? You’ve got a winner.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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6 – You can Rock Padded Shoulders

Wear a shoulder-padded sweatshirt with bright green joggers! I love how she styled this look, finishing it off with some block heel mules.

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5 – Pairs Your Basics with Bolds

In case you haven’t guessed, the basic, in this case, is the denim skirt and the polka dot top adds the bold factor. Together, these two work perfectly for a retro vibe.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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H&M Black and White Polka Dot Top $11.99

Denim Midi Skirt $50

4 – How About a High-Low Skirt and Knotted Top for Picnic Day?

I think this is just the cutest picnic outfit ever!

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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3 – Crochet Bikinis are now a Thing

If you have been wanting to try the crochet trend, here’s one way to do it. Combine it with the bucket hat trend and you will have nailed 2021 fashion. Great for poolside tanning or days at the beach.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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2 – Bring Some Sexiness to Your Look with Slits

At first glance, this might not seem like the most retro look. But I wanted to include it because it is a great example of how you can give any outfit an old-school touch in a really subtle way. After all, this might be your first time trying out the trend. Maybe you feel like you want to experiment a little before diving all in! If that’s you, then check out this sweet summer ensemble.

What gives it the retro vibe is the fact that it’s a boho dress (which we’ve already discussed is very on-trend right now) and it includes a couple of key accessories. Namely, some funky tinted sunglasses and a cute, woven, basket-style purse. We’ve got some silver jewelry as well, with a fantastic monocle pendant necklace. Super chic!

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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1 – Keep it Simple with a Boho Summer Dress

Finally, here is another example of a boho-style dress that I am so in love with. The pretty detailing really lets this dress shine; the stripes are fun, and they are vertical, which is a plus in my book! (Horizontal stripes will always seem risky to me: they have the tendency to make you look quite wide, which may or may not be a goal you particularly care for.)

I also love the round (but not totally bottle-cap) sunglasses that have a whiff of the old-school about them.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

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Bonus Read: Celebrity Inspired Looks

You know we love talking about the latest celebrity style, so here’s a quick look at all the celebrities who have been rocking old-school looks lately.

We’ve carefully chosen retro hairstyles and retro outfits that you can easily replicate using items from your closets.

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Justin & Haily Beiber in Baggy Fits

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Kendall Jenner in 70-s Style Retro Trainers

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Naomi Campbell in a Multi-Colour Suit

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Kendall Jenner’s Brown Puffer Jacket

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Kirsten Dunst in Retro Inspired Suspenders

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

January Jones in Shoulder Bob with Blunt Bangs

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Lizzo’s Bob Layered Haircut

Retro Outfit Ideas 18 Tips on How to Dress Retro This Year

Lilly Collins in 70s Style Layered Flick

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What shoes to wear with retro outfits?

retro outfits for women sneakers

The shoes you wear with retro outfits vary, depending on where you’re dressing for and what you’re wearing. But these Banana Republic sneakers are so fun with an innate “throwback” vibe to them. It’s an easy way to make a dressy look seem more casual as well, perfect for days when you might be walking around a lot.

Q. Where can I buy retro style clothing?

While there are specific vintage-inspired clothing brands like Unique Vintage or Modcloth, the great thing about this trend is that we see our everyday favorite stores and brands adopting the style as well and putting out their own takes on it.

When you want a retro-exclusive shop full to the brim with vintage styles, Simple Retro, a lovely clothing brand started in New York City, has lots to choose from. If you are like me, you will fall in love with the whimsical photo styling and lovely clothing styles, too!

Here are a few other places you can find such clothing:

  1. Zara
  2. Mango
  3. Urban Outfitters
  4. ASOS

Are you in love with this trend yet? If so, which of these are you most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below!

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