Michael 84

Fashion Trend AW12 – Varsity Jacket Buyers Guide

Fashion, Mens Fashion Trends
Saturday, 1st September, 2012

Varsity jackets, baseball jackets, lettermans jackets, these American inspired pieces come with an array of different names, but what does it all mean, and what should you buy?

They have been popular in American culture for quite some time, mostly with college kids and they are used as jackets for American sports, usually American football. They used to be worn more as sportswear, the football team would wear the jackets, give them to their girlfriends to wear and so on, I am sure we have all seen the American TV shows and movies which depict this. However once they came over to our side of the pond, Europe has taken a whole new look at the varsity jackets, and styled them up, and are now a must-have jacket in everyone’s wardrobe.

So what is the difference between a Varsity, College, Baseball and Lettermans jacket?

Well it is hard to say. Each brand call their different jackets by different names, so if you see one calling it a varsity jacket and another calling it a lettermans jacket but they look the same, they probably are. In my experience of looking I have found that baseball and college jackets are the ones with the same colour body and sleeves; They are usually the ones which are advertised as “College/Baseball jackets”. The Varsity/Lettermans jackets are usually the ones advertised with contrasting body and sleeve colours. The message is not to get hung up on what the brands are calling them, check them out and if you like them then buy it.

What are varsity jackets made from?

This is another difference. The original and genuine varsity jackets which are used in the U.S. are made from 100% wool for the body, and have genuine leather sleeves. These are usually quite expensive and weigh quite a bit. They are heavy and to be honest they are no good for a summers day or even a mildly warm spring or autumn.

There are a few alternatives available, and my favourite are the soft cotton ones, sometimes called “sweatshirt material” because it’s the same feel as a sweatshirt. These are much better to wear as a light jacket in warm conditions, they are very light and feel great. Another alternative are the waxy polyester ones, which I am not a fan of. They get more crinkled and feel a bit too plastic, which I personally do not like. If you want the leather look but not pay leather money, there are some available with fake leather (PU) sleeves, which are quite a bit cheaper then the authentic leather and give a similar look.

Varsity Jacket Designs – What makes a classic varsity jacket?

There are a few key design points for the varsity jacket. If you have looked at a few, you will know what they are:

Sleeves/Body – Usually these are contrasting colours, this is one of the key design points in the varsity jacket, however some designs stick with the same colour body and sleeves.

Collar, Cuffs and Hem trimming – These are usually trimmed with stripes, a lot of the time, two.

Tipped pockets – The pockets are usually tipped a different colour, most of the time it will be the contrasting colour of the jacket i.e. the same colour as the sleeves.

Contrasting Buttons – The buttons will be contrasting, just like the sleeves and pockets.

My varsity and baseball jackets

I got my first jacket in 2010, when they were becoming more and more popular in fashion and fast becoming the style of jacket to have. They are great because of their infinite number of styles and colours they have to offer, you can have 10 people in a room wearing them but they will all look different. Two years on and we are coming into Autumn 2012, and the jackets are still as popular as ever.

Here are my current three jackets which I have, each are different in many ways…


My first was an ASOS own brand jacket and has the same colour body and sleeves, usually called a “baseball jacket”. I got this because it is plain and I planned on customising it myself, as you can see I have done that. I added my initials and my name, which I think looks good. It’s made from “sweatshirt material” and is light and soft.

The second purchase was the blue and white varsity jacket. This is a 100% authentic varsity jacket, and was “made in the USA”. It is made from 100% melton wool, has genuine leather sleeves and has quilt lining. It is super luxurious and premium, and is very heavy to wear.

My third is the red and white Franklin And Marshall jacket. I was looking for a men’s red/white jacket like this for a very long time, not many labels (if any) were doing them back then, but I found this and got it. Again it is made from sweatshirt material and is light and nice to wear.

Buyers guide – What varsity jackets are out there

There are now a large number of labels, stores and brands offering a large selection of varsity jackets for both men and women. From cheaper own brands to the high street, and even high-end labels are now designing this style of jacket.

You got cash? MR Porter has these three high end varsity jackets for your buying pleasure.

The first two are  Monsieur Lacenaire knitted jacket, these are more of a cardigan style. In a lovely blue and contrasting white colour, or opt for the burgundy, with all the markings of a classic varsity. cost – £300 each.

The Third is a Gucci jacket with a suede front and jersey cotton contrasting sleeves. £805.

ASOS has a large number of baseball and college varsity’s for a high street price. Here are a few favourites which they are currently offering.

First up the baseball jacket by 4TN. Cream body and navy blue sleeves, this is made from soft heavy cotton and has an alternative collar. £85 Currently on sale at £50.

Second is a Franklin and Marshall piece which is similar to the one I have. This comes in light great with navy sleeves. £109 Currently on sale for £49.

Last up from ASOS is this WESC sweat which features a blue body and white sleeves, the WESC logo patch and is made of sweat shirt material. £75 Currently on sale for £48.50

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Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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