There is nothing like wearing a super soft vintage tee. Not only does the piece give you instant street cred, especially if it happens to be a cool band tee (Fleetwood Mac, anyone?), but the item feels so light on the skin—almost like you're wearing nothing at all. But if you aren't one to be frequenting second-hand shops or flea markets, how do you get the look? Easy. Make your new shirts feel old. Below, we teach you how to make your fresh-out-of-the store tees vintage-y soft.
Step 1: Make a mix.
To make a vintage feeling T-shirt, first create a mix of water and salt, or water and vinegar in a large bucket. For one-quart water, you will need about 1/2 cup of salt or vinegar. "The salt and vinegar will open up the fibers," says Fashion Institute of Technology professor Ingrid Johnson, who works in the Home Products Development department. "The mixture will add volume to the cotton, much like adding volume to your hair. The fibers will be brushed up."
Step 2: Submerge your shirt.
Soak your shirt in the mixture for about seven minutes, Johnson says. "Some people say you need to leave your T-shirt in overnight, but all the magic will be done in just about seven minutes, no more, no less," she says. This process will work on cottons, cotton/poly blends, and modals. "Modals will result in the softest of the soft," Johnson explains.
Step 3: Wash and dry as normal.
Next machine-wash your tee as normal with a mild detergent. Machine-dry as usual, as well, but be sure to pull your shirt out of the dryer before it fully dries. "If it is bone-dry, the T-shirt will feel scratchy," Johnson says. "Just like your skin, you want the shirt to be a little hydrated and then air-dry."