4 retro bathroom towel designs from Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and Kmart


It can be hard to find new-old-stock vintage towels, and if they are not “new”, well, that can be kind of grody. Until recently, most bath towels available in today’s stores were solid colors. But I’ve definitely noticed a trend toward towels with vintage designs. Yay! This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to push the retro envelope. Above: Anthropologie offers this style reminiscent of vintage Cannon bath towels– which I will dub “sculpted plush jacquard” style. There probably is a *real* term for this style of towel, though: Help welcomed.


fresno towels by anthropologie

Fresno towels from Anthropologie. I’d call these bohemian 60s or clashy 70s – is that close, do you think? Am I imagining that we used to have towels like this? Click here to see the bath towels at Anthropologie.

harvest gold and avocado towels by pottery barn

Avocado and harvest gold for your bathroom, anyone? I’m pretty sure my Grandma Aggie had some towels that looked like this in her and grandpa’s 1960s retirement tract house in Oceanside, California. These towels are from Pottery Barn, and there is a shower curtain, so you can go matchy-matchy. The design is called Palampore – from an ancient technique in India. I don’t think Grandma’s had that kind of pedigree. Palampore towels and shower curtain from Pottery Barn.

There is a little sculpted plush jacquard action going on down at the Kmart, too. The quality *might* not be as good as the premium brands above, but for sure the price is far less. Sculpted Country  Living towels from Kmart.

I also recall a reader report of  sculpted-plush-jacquard style towels at Target. I don’t see them online, and my Target is a dinky version. Anyone know for sure? If so, can you snap some pics for us if you see them?

To be sure, if I found these, there are likely more, or more to come. This industry runs in packs, I think — and now, they are running in ours. Buwuahauahau (evil laugh of glee.)

  1. Bette Jean says:

    I just got some fun, colorful towels at Walmart. Will try to send you a picture over on your FaceBook page. Also HomeGoods has some orange and white print sets. Not a real bright orange, more of a melon shade.

  2. Ethan says:

    Alright Pam! Stop bringing up Grampa’s 60’s retirement house in Oceanside California! You are making me want to “go home again” and you can never go home again.

    I am just kidding about not bringing up your Grampa’s house anymore. But it does make me miss being a kid. My Grampa also retired in the 60’s (late 60’s), moved to Vista, Ca (the town next to Oceanside) from Maryland and bought a new tract house. I grew up there and I have lots of great memories of my Grampas house. It too was an extreme example of the time period.

    I really miss Oceanside/ Vista but it is so different today then it was when we were kids that it truly is a totally different place. Hence, “you can’t go home again”. I live in OKC now and, god willing, I’m not moving!

  3. Pat says:

    Hmmm, I still live partly “back in the day” as I use a clothesline all spring, summer and fall (this year, I used it on Dec. 31st!). I still don’t understand why more people don’t use clotheslines! My clothes smell sooo good after bringing them in. To me it’s therapeutic!

    1. Elaine says:

      I like that job as well. I don’t have a good place for a clothesline at my house though, too many trees and bird feeders. I’ve thought about putting up a line many times. I end up hanging things in the kitchen, along the top of the windows, on the tops of the doorways….

      Funny, we had a nest of tree swallows on a long pole at one end of our clothesline when I was a kid, and they never made any messes on our laundry. They would swoop us in nesting season though.

  4. Pat says:

    The only bad thing about those print towels, they fade badly and then look bad! I haunt estate sales for the older towels without that woven band towards the end of the towels. Those shrink badly and then, once again, a terrible looking towel.

    1. Elaine says:

      Back in the day, way back when, we didn’t have automatic dryers and we hung our clothes on the line to dry. We had lines in the yard for summer, and lines in the basement for winter and rainy days. It was my job to hang the clothes out, and one of the important things to do was stretch those bands. First you picked the towel out of the basket, grabbed each end of the band and pulled for all you were worth. They would creak and stretch. Then you pegged the towel to the clothesline, and for good measure, stretched the band some more. It was important to do this, and the towels did keep their shape.

      When I took the clothes in, I was taught to fold them as I took them down and put them in the basket. It was all done by categories, towels, bedding, mom’s clothes, dad’s clothes, my clothes, sissy’s clothes, and so on.

  5. Bepsf says:

    I looked up those Towels sold by Anthropologie:

    They’re made by Fresco Towels of Los Angeles – Yes, Made in the USA!


    Many more styles and colors available directly from them – Including pillows, tote bags, beach towels and bathmats – also from their store in Beverly Hills.

  6. Pat says:

    I keep searching estate sales for gently used sculpted towels, found a set last month, I love it! I saw the sculpted towels at Kmart, they are nice, but too heavy for me (I hate heavy towels) and larger than I like. That’s why I like the older towels, smaller and not so heavy that they take an hour to dry. (I’m surprised they haven’t started making towels smaller, you know how all the manufacturers are making everything else smaller, you know the 16 oz pkg that is now 14.5 oz).

  7. Megan says:

    Since moving into my grandparents house I have used nothing but towels from the 1960s (nearly ALL with fringe!). Like someone else said, they must have just made them better back then to last all this time. I distinctly remember using most of the towels I use now the entire time I’ve grown up!

    Also recently my mom gave me many sets of towels that she and my father received as wedding gifts in 1972. And get this, they are still in the boxes people gave them to them in, they’ve never been used! They had gotten ‘lost’ in the rear of a linen closet that was rarely opened. They are sculpted like example one but much more colorful along the lines of example two. So now the wedding towels are my ‘company-is-a-comin’-put-out-the-GOOD-towels’ towels!

  8. rechercher says:

    Target has some sculpted jacquard towels in stock right now, they are in the bath accessories section–supposed to be guest towels. They’re not as plush or as ornate as the gold number above, but they’ll convey the look.

  9. Patty says:

    It’s hard to throw away a good towel. That’s why 35 years later, both my brother and I still have some of these hand towels in use, including some with fringe.

    And no, they were never “saved” – they just hold up. I use lots of hand towels that don’t “match” the bathroom cause I don’t have company every day and why buy more when these are still good? And no, they are not even threadbare, and I’m sure they were not expensive or we would not have bought them.

  10. Annie B. says:

    So glad this style is making a comeback. I know that my collection of vintage bath linens will eventually fall apart and I really don’t like today’s “greige” and bland towell styles.

    Vintage towels were so wonderfully made, and made right here in NC, USA.

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