Retro Color Palette

May 20, 2023

Color plays a significant role in design, no matter the medium used.

Whether in digital or traditional media, artists and designers always search for new and exciting ways to utilize different color palettes. 

As color trends come and go, there's just one that has been making a comeback time and time again — the retro color palette. 

This color scheme is known for its bold, vibrant hues reminiscent of the past decades that can be used for wardrobe changes or even website redesigns. 

Read on as we closely examine the retro color trend and its characteristics. Be ready to feel some nostalgia as you incorporate colors into your design!

The Retro Color Trend 

Some things only get more precious with time, like the retro color trend. 

A timeless and popular design trend, this incorporates vintage hues into more modern designs. 

From the muted, earthy tones of the 1970s to the bright, bold colors of the 1980s, a vintage color palette is a great way to add character, personality, and nostalgia to any design. 

So if you're looking for a color scheme that will stand out in a sea of modern feels, retro color palettes are for you. 

Characteristics of Retro Schemes

While the retro color scheme is widely used as a general term, its characteristics still vary depending on the decade being referenced.

Colors from the 1950s tend to be pastel and muted, while colors from the 1970s are more earthy and warm. Meanwhile, the 1980s are characterized by bright, bold colors and neon hues. 

With different strengths from different eras, these colors can be mixed and matched to create unique and eye-catching designs.

Retro Fonts and Textures

In addition to color schemes, the retro design also incorporates unique typography and textures. Retro fonts are characterized by their bold, geometric shapes and thick lines. 

These fonts are often used in combination with retro-inspired illustrations and patterns. Textures such as halftone patterns and distressed effects are also commonly used in retro design. 

These textures help create a vintage, worn-in feel that complements the palette's bold colors.

Retro Color Inspiration

Among the most popular sources of inspiration for vintage color palettes is the 1960s psychedelic art movement characterized by bright, vibrant colors and trippy patterns. In the 1980s, retro colors were inspired by bold, neon colors and graphic design. 

In modern times, retro color palettes are usually inspired by vintage advertisements, album covers, and movie posters.

20 Vintage Color Palettes for Throwback Branding

Rock the Casbah

This color palette incorporates warm, bold, and rich colors that evoke the energy and vibrancy of a lively party. 

You can even imagine the richness of Middle Eastern culture with this one.


From the name itself, the elementary color palette is perfect for projects that require a balance of playfulness and sophistication. 

These can be educational materials, branding for children's products, or websites for young audiences.

Sunset Beach

Like sands and surfing, this color palette incorporates warm, muted colors that give off the feeling of a peaceful sunset on the beach.


This color palette's earthy tones are reminiscent of Havana's sun-bleached architecture and tropical landscape, with pops of bold, vibrant colors that add a modern touch.

 Bright Bicycle

The Bright Bicycle color palette features vibrant colors that evoke the feeling of a fun and playful bicycle ride on a bright, sunny day.

Cruising Convertible

Evoking the feeling of a fun and carefree ride in a convertible car, this color palette has warm and bright yellows and oranges.

Weekend Getaway

Perfect for a weekend getaway, this color palette incorporates warm and inviting colors that evoke a sense of relaxation and escape.

Flower Power

This color palette incorporates bold and bright colors often associated with the Flower Power movement of the 1960s.

On the Telly

Probably the most nostalgic among the color palettes on this list, On the Telly is reminiscent of the late 60s and early 70s when television rapidly became a staple in people's homes.

Thrift Market

Like thrift markets, this color palette evokes a feeling of a faded quality that suggests it may have been a bright orange shade in the past but has since mellowed with age.

Surf & Sunsets

Surf & Sunsets palette creates a dreamy quality that suggests a sense of both calm and adventure, perfect for projects related to surfing, beach vacations, or anything related to the ocean and its beauty.

Home Sweet Home

This color palette evokes the warmth and comfort of a cozy abode. When paired, the colors create an inviting atmosphere that makes one feel right at home.


Are you missing the comfort of winding down with a nightcap? The colors that surround us during this time are often warm, rich, and soothing, helping to set the mood for relaxation and reflection.


Like real sunshine, this color palette creates a cheerful and uplifting feeling, perfect for capturing the essence of a sunny day.

Don’t You Forget About Me

This color palette evokes a sense of nostalgia and longing for the past, creating a sense of emotional depth and complexity connected with personal histories.

Jukebox Blues

Jukebox blues is a moody and soulful mix of colors. Together, these colors create a nostalgic, timeless vibe that recalls a vintage jukebox playing old blues tunes in a smoky dive bar.

California Dreamin

This color palette perfectly represents the laid-back and carefree lifestyle associated with the sunny state. 

The colors create a harmonious and balanced palette that radiates a relaxed and easygoing vibe, like the California lifestyle.

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive features warm, earthy tones with a touch of elegance - evocative of the luxury and sophistication of Beverly Hills' famous shopping district.

Wild Wanderlust

Sending a sense of adventure and exploration, color schemes like this are mixes of warm and cool tones. 

The shades create a sense of freedom and possibility, inviting anyone to get lost in the beauty of the world.

Morning Espresso

This color palette features rich, warm tones that evoke the feeling of enjoying a fresh cup of coffee on a crisp morning.

FAQs: Retro Color Palette

What colors are retro colors?

Retro colors are a range of colors that were popular in the past, particularly in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Some common vintage colors include pastel hues, earthy browns and oranges, bright pinks and greens, and bold blues and yellows.

What is considered a vintage color?

Vintage colors refer to colors that were popular in the past and have become associated with a particular era or style, such as pastel colors for the 1950s and 60s and earthy colors for the 1970s.

How do you make retro colors?

To create a retro look, you can use color grading techniques that mimic the look of vintage film or photography. This involves adjusting the color balance, saturation, and contrast to create a vintage or retro feel. 

Conclusion: Retro Color Palette

The retro color trend is a versatile and timeless design trend that offers unique features for interior design, fashion, or website design inspiration. 

Whether you're looking to evoke a sense of nostalgia, warmth, or personality in your images, vintage color palettes can do that for you. 

By incorporating retro fonts, textures, and inspirations, you can create unique, eye-catching designs that stand out. 

Why not give the retro color palette a try in your next design?

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