Borrowed From the Boys: Varsity Letterman Jacket
I never played varsity sports in school.
Actually, I didn’t even make it to JV. My freshman year of high school, I played basketball and tennis. My sophomore year, I stuck it out with basketball (tennis dropping to “hobby” status). Thankfully, I attended a high school with a student body large enough to necessitate “freshman” and “sophomore” teams, only after aging out of these could you actually not make the team.
Surprisingly, a 90-lb, 5-foot-nothing point guard who was all knees, elbows, and a shaky jump shot didn’t strike the varsity coaching squad as their next star player. Which was honestly fine by me. I figured out pretty early on I preferred watching team sports to playing them. It makes sense, then, that my most long-standing athletic relationship is with running – no team-building or (extensive) hand-eye coordination required.
But I always loved a varsity letterman jacket. After a childhood spent devouring Archie comics like M&Ms, I maintained a reverence for the concept of the coat – where it placed you in your high school’s social scene, and its standing in the lexicon of high school fashion. Obviously by the time I got to high school, I was modern-thinking enough to realize that they weren’t just for boys to give to their girlfriends (when Archie gave his to Veronica, and Betty was so jealous? Drama!!), but I still loved the 1950’s traditionalist overtones of a girl wearing a large letterman jacket slung over her shoulders.
So when the varsity jacket became a “thing” in fashion again recently, I was like, “Let’s do this.” I mean, all of the style, none of the high school drama? I’m in. Which is why, for a year now, this Nike Destroyer jacket (men’s version here) has been a staple in my wardrobe.
The jacket’s “letter” is actually the short hand for Wisconsin (WI) and New York (NY) stitched one over the other. My thinking when I designed the coat: If I had a family crest, what would it be? And I decided there wasn’t any better for me than the two places that have shaped me the most. The rest – snap buttons, leather sleeves, deep pockets – it may not be my most formal coat, but it just might be my favorite.
Did you rock a letterman’s jacket in high school? For what sport? And would you wear one of the sports-agnostic versions now?
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