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Varsity jackets are no longer just for jocks. Sure, the athletic silhouette and wool fabric might still conjure up images of high school football captains, but that’s changing. For a few years now, designers have been putting out fresh, modern varsity jackets that make a compelling case for dressing a bit like an eighties jock. And it seems to be working. The best varsity jackets of the 21st century (a.k.a. letterman jackets) can be seen on everyone from model influencers to A$AP Rocky to stylish dads – all of whom put their own twist on the bold piece (Think: paired with slacks and some crisp white sneakers on date night or jeans and trainers while running errands).
The best part about varsity jackets’ graduation is the range of styles we now have to choose from. Depending on your personal style, you could go with leather sleeves and a wool body full of patches, or you could go with a minimal high-fashion designer pick. Basically, we’ve got options and here are nine of the best.
1. The Real McCoy’s Ventura Varsity Jacket
As you might be able to tell from this Ventura varsity jacket, The Real McCoy’s is a brand dedicated to reviving throwback looks just as they were back in the day. But, thanks to premium materials and attention to detail, this fifties-inspired jacket is very wearable right now. True to the old school, the jacket features a wool body, horsehide leather sleeves and a quilted nylon lining. We’re also big fans of the jacket’s over-the-top sporty chenille appliqués, which make for a bold piece that goes well with jeans or sweats and a hoodie underneath.
2. UO Ombre Wool Varsity Jacket
This varsity jacket from Urban Outfitters is a great modern take on the athletic staple. The wool body is given a long-haired, ombre overhaul that makes a statement without changing the original too much. With contrasting wool sleeves and striped, rib knit trim, it’s still recognizable as a varsity jacket. Rock it casually with chinos and hype sneakers, or wear it a little bit dressier with, say, boots or loafers and crisp jeans.
3. Opening Ceremony Varsity bomber jacket
One of the best features of old-school varsity jackets is the overload of chenille appliqués. With this varsity jacket, Opening Ceremony has maintained that throwback look with appliqués of their own, including a large, distinctive torch emblem on the back. The leather sleeves of old also got a makeover with an embossed crocodile effect. All-in-all, it’s a statement piece worthy of any night out or adventurous errand running.
4. Polo Ralph Lauren Bomber Jacket
As usual, Polo Ralph Lauren comes through with a fresh take on an American classic in the form of this bomber jacket. The soft cotton denim body tweaks the original without losing any of the varsity jacket’s throwback charm. We also like the logos – an embroidered P on the front and USA on the back – as they add some character without too much flair. This one should be worn extra casually with sneakers (think Converse or retro Nikes), chinos and a tee.
5. Marcelo Burlon College Varsity Jacket
Italians are sometimes better at nailing American style than Americans. Case in point is this Marcelo Burlon varsity jacket. The piece is mostly cotton and features a slouchy yet upscale silhouette. White stripes on the shoulders and low-key appliqués throughout up the collegiate vibe while staying squarely in high-fashion territory. We suggest wearing the Marcelo Burlon with other minimal menswear such as baggy pants, a logo tee and modern sneakers (such as Yeezys or Off-Whites, for example).
6. A Bathing Ape Varsity Jacket
This varsity jacket from A Bathing Ape (long associated with Pharrell) has an old-school look, but, because it comes from such a hype brand, it’s a modern piece through-and-through. The body is navy blue wool, contrasting nicely with white leather sleeves and yellow-trimmed appliqué logos throughout. The only difference between your high school varsity jacket and this one is that now you’re repping a grail-worthy streetwear brand instead of a team. It’s a great way to upgrade any casual, under-the-radar outfit with some statement-making clout.
7. Polo Ralph Lauren Logo Varsity Jacket
Another solid (but very different) pick from Polo Ralph Lauren is this red varsity jacket. The jacket is made of a cotton-nylon blend instead of the typical wool body and leather sleeve combo. This build, plus a bright red color and a single “Polo RL” logo across the chest, gives the piece a more modern, baseball-inspired style. It’s highly wearable with either throwback outfits or modern basics (for example, crisp chinos, a tee and Allbirds).
8. Saint Laurent Teddy Bomber Jacket
In a fashion epoch where no piece is too casual for esteemed designers, this Teddy bomber from Saint Laurent is a great choice. You may have seen it on the likes of Post Malone, John Legend or A$AP Rocky, but the bomber can be worn by us normal dudes too. As with most great outerwear, the jacket manages to be low-key and bold at the same time thanks to a minimal design, contrasting leather trim and a premium virgin wool-blend construction. It’s highly versatile style-wise, but we think it looks best over a tee with some jeans and clean modern sneakers.
9. Gucci Horse Bit Varsity Jacket
Another great high-roller varsity jacket is this one from Gucci. It’s basically a classic varsity jacket that has undergone some Gucci-fication in the form of a bright red colorway, an interlocking G horsebit on the chest and sumptuous materials throughout. The body is 100% wool felt and the sleeves are made of butter-soft red leather. It’s certainly loud, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Gucci. Rock the Horse Bit jacket with other bold pieces such as designer boots and some baggy jeans or chinos.