Last year, according to the New York Times, we were all about website design inspired by the 1980s and 1990s. Bright colors, geometric shapes, graphics that look like they’ve been pulled from the Fresh Prince intro. It was fun, and it’s a look that’s still popular in some forms today. But let’s go back a little further, to a look that’s both older and more timeless: vintage and retro design.
Done well, vintage-inspired design can be a perfect look for websites. It’s a mix of old and new, and it feels more crafted. But, it can also be overdone. The “hipster” look can seem more formulaic than authentic, like in the case of the Kinfolk conspiracy code (wood, citrus, lattes, feet, twine, repeat) or the minimal-hipster aesthetic that’s making every coffeeshop look the exact same (industrial furniture, Edison bulbs, lots of wood).
So, it’s about balance. Here are 18 WordPress themes that strike the right balance in vintage and retro web design.
The Best Vintage and Retro-Inspired WordPress Themes
Starting with a classic: this old-school retro portfolio theme invokes classic, nostalgic design - the website version of an old ice cream parlour or vintage shop. The bright, full-screen colors are a nice contrast to the minimal trends of portfolio themes.
Blue, red, orange, green, or grey skins offer different color choices for your site. There are also three varieties of home page layouts, sliders, favicon uploader, and more customization options.
3. Wild Book
This is a unique layout: the left half of this WordPress theme stays in place, with a logo, short description, and social media buttons. The right side scrolls with blog posts, pages, and all website content. Wild Book would be a good choice for a portfolio website, simple blog, or even a marketing campaign.
“Tell your story” is the tagline for Borderland, a multi-concept theme. The white borders, sans-serif font choices, and nature photography give it a vintage vibe. Features include ajax page transitions, a clients carousel, multiple logo versions, parallax background images, and video backgrounds.
Hipster is a super-retro design from BeanTown Themes. It’s also easy to navigate, uncomplicated, and easy to use. One user said that it’s the first theme that they took the time to review, so that they could give it 5 stars for the design! There’s also a list of real-life examples of the theme in use, which is always helpful for gathering inspiration.
Are fixed-gear bikes, deer antlers, mountains, and artful cups of coffee your aesthetic? Monaco, a multi-concept WordPress theme, might be the right choice for you. There are twenty pre-defined demos and they’re all fairly different, so it’s like getting twenty themes in one.
Made for creative agencies and small businesses, Extinct was created by studying retro and vintage style websites, posters, and prints. It’s built with SiteOrigin page builder, and has easy to use widgets and customization options. The featured site is a holiday spot in the Cornish countryside.
A minimalistic theme with a retro color scheme. If your WordPress skills are limited, this might be a winner for their 1-Day Service option to install the theme exactly like the demo for you - meaning all you have to do is swap their content for your own.
I love the typography on this one—the white, cursive text overlaid on vintage photos looks like it could be straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. This one has lots of different demo choice, so you’re not stuck with just one layout. It also has six header styles, unlimited colors, and custom shortcodes.
10. Read and Digest
A little more modern, Read & Digest is built for publishing and blogs. There are several layouts for the homepage, so you can decide if you’re going for a look that’s more The Atlantic or Medium. I especially like the option of a full-width background image, which is unique but not overpowering to the site design.
Moose is a multipurpose theme with ten different concepts. With WooCommerce integration, you can sell anything on your site, like wooden-rimmed sunglasses. This one has the option of a hosting and set-up plan all through Envato, in addition to the standard theme purchase option.
Another retro portfolio site that’s cute and creative. The support is well-reviewed, and the PSD files are available for free download through the web designer’s website.
Ignore the somewhat creepy header photo here—Boutique’s site design is cool. It’s built for online stores and powered by WooCommerce. It comes with Visual Composer, Revolution Slider, and WPML Translation plugin.
Looking for something more playful? RetyX was designed by an Envato power elite author, and it features vintage designs. There’s an option to create filterable portfolio options—for example, to filter all of your portfolio items by ’illustration’ and ’branding’, etc.—which is useful for graphic designers, photographers, or other portfolio-makers.
Designers will love this theme, which connects to Dribbble to display your latest work. It also has a Google Map shortcode, responsive design, social media icons, and a changeable background. The built-in orange and brown color scheme is subdued and classic retro-style.
Om is a modern storytelling theme. The grid-based layout is a classic choice for blogs and publications, and it’s one of the best ways to organize content on a site. Layout option 1 leads with a text sentence at the very top, which works for mission statements, creative bios, or other messaging that you want front and center.
A clean, minimal theme that has 24 (!) homepage variations to choose from, with four homepage sliders, three blog layouts, and six post formats. The images it comes with are from Unsplash, and it’s optimized for all devices. I like the smaller icons and carousel slider, which is simple and easy to read.
18. Jack & Rose
This last WordPress theme is for weddings—what’s more romantic than vintage design? Build a wedding website quickly with this Titanic-inspired retro design. There are a few sample wedding websites for inspiration (or if you just want to read a good love story—warning, you may need to know a little German to check out the best customer site!).
Get Your Retro on!
This list will have given you a great start on your quest to find the perfect vintage WordPress theme. Didn’t find what you were looking for? Browse all vintage designs on Envato Market, and don’t forget to check out what vintage themes an Envato Elements subscription has to offer too.