You might think varsity jackets got retired with your high school or college athletic career. But the letterman jacket is back and better than ever — now with a modern twist. Over the past few seasons, varsity jackets have taken over the runways of Milan and Paris. The collegiate-style outerwear is even one of the biggest spring fashion trends, worn by practically everyone. So why is this jacket so popular right now and what makes for the best varsity jackets? First, let’s dive into the history of the varsity jacket.
Origins of the Varsity Jacket
The varsity jacket dates back to 1865, when Harvard’s baseball team wanted something that could help distinguish between the best athletic players. It was settled that the wearable item would be a thick sweater with an embroidered “H.” This led to the rise of the coveted piece, which quickly expanded to other athletic teams.
However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the letterman sweater transitioned to the letterman jacket, aka varsity jacket, with a wool body, leather sleeves and a letter appliqué on the front.
The Rise of the Varsity Jacket
In its new form, the varsity jacket became a staple for athletic departments before ascending into the ranks of full-fledged trend, with iterations designed by high-fashion and commercial retail brands. The jacket is still widely used in athletic programs, but it’s now a lifestyle piece too.
This jacket has become a fashion staple for men because it packs style and comfort into one practical, lightweight jacket. It’s a great option to help elevate a casual fit but durable and thick enough to keep you warm in cold weather.
Whether you’re an all-American athlete or just stylish, everyone deserves a varsity jacket in their closet. To help you find the best varsity jacket that fits your style, here are a few of our favorite options to shop now.
1. PacSun Varsity Patch Jacket
Is it even one of the best varsity jackets if it doesn’t have appliqués? Technically yes, but those with appliqués have a lot more style. This jacket from PacSun has a preppy design with a modern twist, featuring a heavy canvas body and faux leather sleeves. It has several embroidered patches affixed on the jackets, including infographics, numerals and lettering.
2. Asos Design Faux Leather Varsity Jacket
Asos Design can do no wrong in our eyes, especially when it comes to this spiffy collegiate-looking varsity jacket. The letterman jacket has the perfect complement of colors with a brown polyester body and cream faux leather sleeves. It features a variety of iconography patches on the front and back for extra style points. Unlike traditional varsity jackets with snap closures, this has a zipper closure for convenience.
3. BDG Corduroy Varsity Jacket
BEST VINTAGE STYLE
If you’re a fan of vintage-based pieces, you’ll love this stylish varsity jacket from Urban Outfitters. The body and sleeves are corduroy with a blue and cream contrast. It has a slightly-worn aesthetic to give it a vintage appeal. The jacket features a tab collar that you can flip up or leave down, depending on your vibe. Rock this beauty with a pair of white carpenter pants and a pair of Converse for the perfect casual fit.
4. Guess Go Jeenan Letterman Jacket
BEST APPLIQUÈ OVERLOAD
You can never have too many appliqués on a varsity jacket, and this option from Guess is the perfect example. It comes fully covered in several Guess logos and iconography appliqués. The jacket is made with a polyester-wool blend for a more sturdy piece. It’s designed with a baseball collar, side welt pockets, ribbed trim sleeve cuffs and red snap button closures.
5. Topman Varsity Jacket
Anyone looking for a varsity jacket with a chill vibe will adore this Topman pick. Most varsity jackets are made using a canvas- or wool-based body, but this one takes a slightly different approach, with polyester made to resemble a nylon finish. It’s designed in a light blue with “Hillcrest Hills” lettering embroidered in the body’s center. The lightweight jacket is perfect for layering a hoodie or sweater underneath. Finish off the fit with some jeans or khakis.
6. Zara Patches Bomber Jacket
BEST COLOR CONTRAST
This varsity jacket from Zara has a collegiate design that’ll have you reminiscing about the good ol’ days back at your alma mater. It’s made of technical fabric sourced from recycled polyester with a striped rib collar and elastic cuffs. The jacket is designed with blue, yellow and white for the perfect contrast of colors. While some varsity jackets feature more than one patch, this has a single letter logo on the front and phrase logo patch arches on the back.
7. Axel Arigato Mayday Varsity Bomber
One reason for the rise in popularity of varsity jackets is their inclusion in several designer collections, including Louis Vuitton, Rhude and Kenzo. While their designs are anything but extraordinary, they come at a premium price point that might be too expensive for some people. However, if you still want luxury quality at a fraction of the price, then this option from Axel Arigato is the way to go. The wool jacket has a white and black contrast with an airplane and address embroidered on the front and a large Arigato on the back.
8. Everlane The ReWool Varsity Bomber
Are you looking for a varsity jacket that you can dress casually and semi-formally? Well, you can’t go wrong with The ReWool Varsity Bomber from Everlane. The jacket has a camel recycled wool body with contrasting sleeves. It’s a regular fit with dropped shoulders and this piece is by far one of the softest pieces on the list. Pair the classic staple with some light-washed jeans, a T-shirt and some Chelsea boots for a solid fit.
9. Starter Green Bay Packers Leader Varsity Jacket
BEST FOR NFL FANATICS
Would it even be a varsity jacket roundup if we didn’t include a sports-themed option? Hell no! This satin varsity jacket is for the Green Bay Packer fan. It has a two-toned color design and features the team logo name embroidered on it. This jacket is the perfect gift for a diehard fan of the team. And don’t worry, Starter offers other varsity jackets for NFL teams.
10. Tommy Hilfiger Oversized Varsity Jacket
Tommy Hilfiger went out of the box with this design, steering away from its traditional red, white and blue aesthetic. The wool jacket comes in jet black with a striped maroon and yellow rib collar and cuffs. It has an oversized fit that streetwear enthusiasts love because the bigger the better, right? The most exciting part of the jacket is its concealed velcro closure that appears as a snap closure.