Letterman Jacket

AKA: Varsity Jacket

How to say it: Letter-man

Traditional Features: 

body template

  • waist length jacket
  • fitted at cuffs, waist and collar, usually with striped, elasticated or ribbed fabric
  • fastens down centre front with press studs
  • loose through the body
  • usually has pockets, often slanted
  • leather sleeves and wool body
  • a letter or crest on the heart or sleeve


…of the style: The letterman originated in Harvard College in 1865 and began life as a grey, woollen baseball uniform with a large ‘H’ in the centre front to represent Harvard. 10 years later the football team adopted the ‘H’ on the from of their uniform, but only the captains or players that performed well were allowed to wear it.

Over the next 25 years the sports jersey evolved into a jacket, and the addition of leather sleeves completed the transformation of the Letterman into the jacket we know today in the 1930s, however the concept of being awarded a ‘letter’ based on performance remained.

Nowadays, the Letterman jacket has become less exclusive, with high school and college students being awarded one in their first year of participation in a sports team, and fashion providing them to the rest of the population.

…of the name: The name Letterman stemmed from the ‘letters’ being awarded to the men on the sports teams. They became a Letterman, and so the jacket on which they wore their letter was a Letterman Jacket.

For a more in depth history of Letterman Jackets, try eHow, BuildYourJacket, orBuy.Varsityjackets.eu.

Random Facts

  • The modern styling of a Letterman Jacket is very similar to a Bomber Jacket. In fact, if the iconic letter is missing, it basically is a bomber jacket.

21st Century Letterman Jackets

Now the Letterman is no longer solely the realm of high school awards. Lots of designers have produced their own version – the leather sleeves aren’t always in attendance, but the letters which gave the jacket its name should always be evident.

CarharttTrue Religion Karl LargerfeldLulu and Co

Top Row – Carhartt, True Religion

Bottom Row – Karl Largerfeld, Lulu & Co.


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