It's Time to Take This Jacket Out of Its High School Context
An ode to the varsity jacket and all its recent fashion moments.
Few items are as emblematic of high school reverie as a varsity jacket or, as most called them, lettermans. The classic style harkens back to Friday night lights and cheering crowds—can you tell I went to high school in Texas? Adoring the style in your teenage years conveyed a level of physical prowess, so what does it communicate from a runway in Paris?
A bomber jacket in essence, these sporty styles have made appearances on runways from Celine to Kenzo to Louis Vuitton. Designers have swapped out the typical jeans-and-a-tee pairing for something unexpected beneath: trousers, floral-print dresses, and plaid shirting.
Celine Fall ‘19;
Kenzo Menswear Fall ‘22
Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall ‘22
Despite its novelty, this is not the first time the iconic silhouette has made its way outside a sporting-gear connotation. Princess Diana of Wales repeatedly championed the style throughout the early ’90s. Once in a personalized Philadelphia Eagles jacket, the next a red more anonymous style. Though the jacket seems slightly out of place, her styling is what most intrigued us. The former she paired with a wool pencil skirt, black tights, and an oversized belt. The latter in a Western take with horseshoe emblazoned denim and fringed-leather boots.
Photos: Jayne Fincher/Getty
Traditionally made of wool and leather, the varsity jacket has also clung to the shoulders of the sartorial elite across international fashion weeks, Paris specifically. There, fashion editors, such as head of editorial content for Vogue France Eugénie Trochu, embraced the outerwear’s preppy connotation. While stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson donned her navy and cream version with a striped shirt, tie-dyed sweatshorts—oh, and don’t forget the Roger Vivier slingbacks.
Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty
Photo: Melodie Jeng/Getty
Speaking of prep, we’d be remiss not to mention stylist Eric Daman’s use of varsity jackets on the Gossip Girl reboot, a show known for hopping on of-the-moment, youth-bolstered trends. Julien Calloway, played by actress Jordan Alexander, experiments with multiple versions of a varsity jacket as she pushes the boundaries around traditional school uniforms. This fashionable embrace has spawned brands like Frame, Mango, and Alo to produce their own iterations along with more bespoke offerings from brands like 2 Mai Paris and The Legends League so now, we can all have one, regardless of our athletic abilities.
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Top photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty
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