Outerwear Essentials The Varsity Jacket

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Fall is style’s summer: it’s the season where you can best express your style because there are different types of garments you can wear. It’s also the season where you have to think wisely about your outerwear items, because they highly influence your look. One of my favourite outerwear items is the varsity jacket.
Sketch of a classic varsity jacket.

Sketch of a classic varsity jacket.

The first varsity jacket was introduced around the 1930’s. The baseball and football students at Harvard University received the jacket as symbol for their participation in those teams. It was embroidered with the letter H. This is the reason that classic varsity jackets have embroidered letters and logo’s on them. Some people might not like the embroidered letters on varsity jacket, but it had a specific function: expressing to which college team you belonged. The varsity jacket started as an exclusive product, only destined for the athletes who were part of the college sports teams. Manufacturers of baseball fan articles started to create varsity jackets for consumers. People recognized its dopeness and this was the starting point of making it accessible to everyone, from preppy boys to streetwear sartorialists. 
Nike brought back classic elements from the varsity jacket in their heritage jacket: wool body, contrasting leather sleeves, and the big old skool Nike Air logo on the back.

Nike brought back classic elements from the varsity jacket in their heritage jacket: wool body, contrasting leather sleeves, and the big old skool Nike Air logo on the back. Image via Freshnessmag.

The classic varsity jacket has a wool body, an embroidered letter on the chest, a button front closure, and leather sleeves. Later on, extra details were added, like the mascot logo (on the back), team name (on the sleeve), and even the name of the athlete (on the chest). Varsity jackets became a hot item in streetwear culture during the late 80’s. One of the leading brands in streetwear culture was Stüssy. During this period, varsity jackets were not solely composed by a wool body and leather sleeves. Run DMC started to wear satin varsity jackets. The embroidered letter wasn’t a necessary detail and these were sometimes left out or some brands went all out and included prints on the jackets. Nowadays, varsity jackets have grown from a sportswear item to a style-neutral item.
Needs & Wants created dope varsity jackets with each sleeve having a different colour.

Needs & Wants Spring/Summer 2014 varsity jacket with each sleeve having a different colour.

This unconventional MKI varsity jacket has a zipper closure and no contrasting sleeves.

This unconventional MKI varsity jacket has a front zipper closure, and no contrasting leather sleeves.

I remember buying my first varsity jacket about 4 years ago. I saw an exclusive Nike Sportswear jacket coming out at the Dutch concept store 290 Square Meters, saved my money and bought it. It’s my favourite jacket up to this day. Not many people own this jacket and it’s timeless. It’s a classic version of the varsity jacket, having a wool body, leather sleeves, a button closure, and the embroidered letters “NSW” on the sleeve. It is perfect for semi-cold days and looks just as good with an oxford shirt with a tie for that preppy boy look and a hoodie for that street look.
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