The Always Cool Varsity Jacket

February 2nd, 2015

On the topic of outerwear, today we highlight the always-cool varsity jacket. Also known as the “letterman jacket” these originated with college and high school athletes to mark their place on the varsity team, and potentially their rank/achievements on the court or field.

The design of a classic varsity, with a boiled wool body and contrast leather sleeves, was so cool that it quickly got adapted for daily street wear by athletes and non-athletes alike.

Being a former high school and college basketball player myself, I always loved the old-school athletic appeal of the letterman jacket. I’ve been wearing these since 9th grade (trying to be as cool as my best friend Ryan). The only difference is that sometimes now I wear them with oxfords, ties, and tailored trousers.

Here’s three varsity jackets from the AOS collection, to get you thinking about your next cool casual jacket.

    Mr. Ivy League

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    A navy wool body with chestnut brown leather sleeves, like this design from our friend Ouigi at The Brooklyn Circus, is an ideal combination. I’ve been wearing this one for years and it’s only looking better with age.

    mensstylevarsityjacket (2 of 5)mensstylevarsityjacket (3 of 5)mensstylevarsityjacket (4 of 5)mensstylevarsityjacket (5 of 5)

    Mr. Downtown


    An edgier, less “collegiate”/more “downtown” design, like this camel/cream/black version by our friend Alejandro Rodriguez at Beautiful Ful, is perfect for hitting the game and grabbing some drinks. It’s a go-to for a low-key casual night out.


    Mr. All-American

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    If your budget doesn’t include a designer varsity jacket, you’re in luck. It’s one of those pieces that is easy to find in vintage or thrift stores. Just try to find one without another person’s name embroidered on the chest (you can see that this one use to have one).

    mensstyle (2 of 8)

    This jacket, that Wes found vintage digging in NYC, was an authentic team jacket from the soccer program at the Regis private school on the Upper East Side. Personally, I don’t have a problem re-appropriating vintage clothing (just like military gear).

    As long as the graphic on the back is cool and the fit is on point, I say reduce, re-use, re-cycle.

    mensstyle (3 of 8) mensstyle (4 of 8)

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

    Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


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    • James Wong

      Agreed. I would never wear one because its not a throwback to my “college days” and it looks like I’m trying to be american.

      I can see the appeal if I were american though :)

    • John

      Haha, I go to Regis! Seeing that jacket made me double take. Good stuff as always.

    • Calvin

      Regis!! My alma mater. Nice find, Wes!

    • TO

      That’s pretty much opposite of the message of this article (it’s essentially saying that it is not a trend piece). But fair enough that you disagree. Although I can see how not everybody would like wearing a genuine varsity, the shape and silhouette of the jacket is classic and will forever work for a kid/man of any age, in my opinion. You mention that now you wouldn’t want to buy one- is that because you are seeing too many of them around now or that you feel you are too old to wear one?

    • Jeanscuffed

      All 3 fits are great Dan. I know personal style is what you make it, but in some instances, how do you know when to style an outfit with a hat or to style one without. Not that it would have looked better but the 2nd outfit could have went with a black fitted yes? Or what the addition of a hat be too much for Will’s awesome head of hair lol. Plus, the broken in black leather sneakers look AMAZING!!

      • TO

        Haha you raise a good point about the hat. Most of the time my stance is if I’m paying out my barber on a monthly basis then I don’t want to cover up his work with a hat (unless I have bedhead or something and was in a rush).

    • tommyjohn_45

      Huge fan of BK Circus. That vintage sportsmen look is something a lot of athletes (and ex-athletes) truly appreciate. Been eyeing their Ebbet’s Field PK Flyers for a long time haha.

    • AFH

      There’s a strange lack of a British equivalent to the Varsity jacket, but the baseball jacket is sometimes put forward as a trend. The lack of a collar/lapels (generally) makes them a bit unforgiving for my taste though.

    • Lothar

      I have a feeling that in one or two years we’re going to be wondering why grown men were trying to dress like high school football players.

      These looks are nice, but they’re time in style feels very, very fleeting. I wouldn’t want to buy a varsity jacket these days.

      The sleeves on jacket 2 look painfully skinny.

      • lothar

        Oops. I should proofread. “Their”

      • tommyjohn_45

        Good thing this site applies to people of all ages. Some who may find it more appropriate at this point.

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