The features of the vintage style

Let’s continue with our column on webdesign styles; the fourth style we are going to deal with is also my favorite: the vintage. But what is the vintage style, where does it come from and above all, what are its distinctive traits? Let’s go through them together.

Vintage: what does it mean?

The term vintage is usually used to indicate objects produced at least twenty years ago, which through time have preserved certain requisites (qualitative, functional or aesthetic) so as to still be able to represent the splendor of an age which “has deeply marked some iconic traits of a particular historical moment of fashion, costums, and design involving and influencing current lifestyles.” (Wikipedia)

Today by “vintage style” is thus understood a style of design strongly inspired by retro tendencies of the past (years 1910/1930 in the case of the retro style, 1950/1980 in the case of the vintage style) with regard to the use of certain colors and/or graphic elements.

Generally the design in vintage style reflects tendencies, styles, characters, advertisement and other characteristic events of the past: and it is a strongly emotional design given that in a certain way belongs to the story of every human being which evokes feelings of nostalgia and melancholy. In fact, whether has been living in the 60s-70s or not, the user is always attracted and intrigued by graphic elements and objects which provide evidence of the process of our evolution.

Which are the recurring elements in the vintage style?

Let’s see together which are the most recurring graphic elements and trends in vintage style:

  • Background and “paper effect” graphics : in the 50s-60s the great age of plastics had not yet begun; shopping bags were of fabrics (raw cotton, mainly), the packaging of the products in cardboard, and so on. Thus, the paper played a fundamental role and just because of that the “paper” effect – especially if aged, turned yellow, worn off because of time and use – is one of the main graphic effects which recur in the vintage style. The same holds for old postcards, stamps, newspapers, pictures in black&white or the cuttlefish effect, on condition that they have an experienced aspect.

  • Objects of an epoch: old radios, cars (the old 500 or the Volkswagen Bug are used the most, together with images of the Vespa), old school tv sets. As in the grunge style, in this style also you can satisfy your whims with the various graphic elements, what’s important is that they are all symbols of a past age.

  • Posters, advertisements, packages: Posters of old advertisements such as caffès, food products, household goods, but also posters of classic movies and packages of products which filled our tables fifty years ago.

  • Pin-up & sexy girls: Girls “to hang up”, with provocative looks, always in bikini and stilettos. The pin-ups are sort of the mascots of the vintage style and for this reason are easy to spot in many retro designs.

  • Magazine style and newspapers of the age: another graphic style vastly used in webdesign is based on the aesthetics of old newspapers, almost always in black and white or “turned yellow by time”, combined with a retro typography.

  • Calligraphic fonts or old style fonts: the major part of vintage/retro design makes use of a typography based on calligraphic fonts, which give a more realistic and informal imprint compared to modern fonts and “old style” fonts, which with difficulty can be integrated in other styles of design.

  • Colors: The colors of the vintage style tend to recall the tonalities of paper and cardboard: beige, brown, cream, maybe not in plain pigment but under the form of textures and patterns. In addition the red, the dark green and the blue are used a lot. For who prefers a more dated and classic one, it is advisable to limit oneself to black/white with a hint of grey. Broadly speaking the vintage style has opaque colors, “consumed” (a bit like for the grunge): opposed to the retro effect (which is famous for the style pop-art design and the brilliant colors) in this style therefore bright colors should be avoided, limiting them to some details which have to attract the attention of the user. Here’s some colors easily traceable in the vintage style webdesign:

In the next article we are going to create a layout in vintage style, based on the features we outlined today. Meanwhile, if you want to elaborate on this or are looking for brushes, textures or other materials for a design in vintage style, I’m linking some resources you might find useful.

Recommended reading

Retro and vintage in modern webdesign

The evolution and the origin of a vintage webdesign style

Inspiration, showcases

45 inspiring examples of vintage in webdesign

50 inspiring vintage advertisements

50 retro and vintage webdesign to inspire you

50 creative examples of vintage and retro in webdesign

25 amazing retro web site for your inspiration

40 gorgeous vintage tobacco advertisements

Vintage mexican advertisement for your inspiration

Brushes,Textures &co

Brush vintage advertising

Brush old paper

300 vintage style textures and brushes

60 vintage textures each designer should have

Brush vintage hands

50 brush sets in vintage style

20 free photoshop brush packs for vintage designs

208 vintage/retro patterns

Brushes: postcards and stamps in vintage style

80 Photoshop actions for giving your pictures a vintage look


Best 10 photoshop tutorials in vintage/retro style

30 vintage/retro photoshop tutorials

Typography & Fonts

20+ high quality free fonts for retro/vintage design

50 examples of vintage typography

30 fonts perfect for vintage/retro style design

Other articles in our guide:


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The Author

Web designer, has been working in the field of graphics and web development for six years and at the moment besides collaborating with a web agency successfully manages her freelance activity under the name of mascara design. Like many freelancers she is used to handling more roles, ranging from paper graphics to the development of html and css codes; nonetheless this passion of hers remains, always and however, web graphics.

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