School Style: Letterman Jackets
Ah, the nostalgia of a letterman’s jacket. This classic wardrobe staple, a man’s jacket with elasticized sleeves, a boxy shape, and a snap closures, has been around since as early as the 19th century, when Harvard University brought them into vogue for their baseball team.
The bright school colors, raised emblems and football numbers of this garment, sometimes also called a varsity jacket, bring to mind crisp fall afternoons spent at football rallies eating cracker jacks and caramel apples. In former days, a player would often lend his letterman’s jacket to his girlfriend, who would wear it proudly to show others that she was “taken.”
Today, lovers of vintage fashion can enjoy experimenting with the letterman’s jacket. Below I list a few ideas to try; but don’t limit yourself to just one or two looks, because the possibilities are endless!
Wear your letterman’s jacket like a gal in the forties would have: paired with a pleated skirt, a crisp blouse, and penny-loafers or brogues. To be even more authentic, try curling your hair and tying it back with a ribbon. Add red lipstick to turn up the forties effect!
Take a cue from artists and celebrities like Gabriel Aplin and Gigi Hadid, who combine the vintage kitchiness of the letterman jacket with modern edge. In her music video “Home,” Aplin wears ripped jeans, a graphic tee, sheer socks, and block-heel sandals. Her hair is cut in choppy bangs and is styled to look mussed and undone.
Hadid pairs her distressed, dark-toned jacket with jeans and black ankle booties, along with a sweater slung casually around her hips. Her hair is sleekly parted down the middle and her makeup is modern and simplistic. For this look, the jacket is clearly the focal point to an otherwise streamlined outfit.
Nothing is so unexpectedly elegant as the pairing of a fancy dress with a menswear coat. So if you’re feeling especially daring this Friday night, add a little masculine to your feminine by throwing a varsity jacket over your going-out ensemble. For maximum effect, wear a bodycon-fit dress and keep your shoes and accessories simple; this will help to balance the bulkiness of the jacket.
Every era leaves future generations with defining cultural expressions in the form of clothing. The letterman jacket is one of those classic garments that keeps us both warm and stylish more than one hundred years after its invention. Have fun experimenting with this iconic fashion staple!