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All About Letterman Jackets: A Staple of American High School Athletes

At Yorba Linda High School, Varsity Football Jackets are all the rage.
Emma Perron
At Yorba Linda High School, Varsity Football Jackets are all the rage.

Typically made of a wool body and leather or pleather sleeves, this jacket has a distinct look and is actually popular fashion-wise in other countries. 

The origins of this prestigious jacket are based in sports, mainly American baseball and football. Players on collegiate teams who achieved the varsity level of their sports were initially given sweaters with a letter sewn on them. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, they were first worn and popularized by Ivy League student-athletes in the 1800s and then proceeded to evolve and fluctuate in popularity until its main resurgence in the 1970s (

However, straying from the jock roots of Richie Cunningham “Happy Days” and Emilio Estevez “Breakfast Club,” the varsity jacket has proven stylistically versatile and prominent in modern fashion.

Surprisingly, the style has lived vicariously not only through hip-hop and 80s rock but even through monarchies.

In 1991, British Princess Diana was seen sporting a green Philadelphia Eagles varsity jacket and caused a debate of whether she was caught up with American sports or just wore it for purely stylistic means (

More recently, former Duchess Meghan wore a non-sports related varsity jacket when visiting a STEM college in Brooklyn, New York. This was widely seen as the Duchess acknowledging her countryside origins (

Just in time for the fall, Starbucks even designed and dropped a Pumpkin Spice Latte Varsity Jacket collaboration with fashion brand KidSuper (

Despite the versatility and prevalence of this iconic garment, people have mixed feelings about the tradition at the high school level. A basic design can cost upwards of $300, and with every hand-sewn patch, some places charging per letter, these can become pretty pricey. As a result, the actual popular use of the jacket usually varies from sport to sport.

Varsity Soccer Player Emma Perron (12) sports her varsity jacket at a football game. (Emma Perron)

Football and cheer athletes seem to overwhelmingly outweigh the other sports teams in terms of whose athletes buy the most jackets, even considering all the varsity-level sports at different schools.

Yorba Linda High School Varsity Tennis Player Brianne Burgess (12) has been playing tennis since she was 4 and has been on Varsity since her Junior Year. She bought her varsity jacket to look back on when she is older, and to “commemorate her achievements in sports as well as showcase her school pride.” 

“I bought a varsity jacket as a keepsake, to commemorate my achievements in sports, and to showcase my school pride.”

— Brianne Burgess (12)

Burgess recommends prospective buyers to “think about why they want a varsity jacket–for sports, fashion, etc” and that since the jackets tend to have a snug fit, “to go in person to find the most comfortable sizing.”

Whether one decides to buy one or not, it is a quintessential staple of high school and collegiate athletics—and apparently the British monarchy. After all, what could be more classically American but more globally popular than denim jeans and a letterman jacket?

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About the Contributors
Anjeli Webb
Anjeli Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Anjeli Webb is a senior at Yorba Linda High School. While she is constantly pouring her heart and soul into writing, she also frequently enjoys well-written novels or groundbreaking news pieces. Anjeli values unbiased truth and freedom of speech and never fails to express it. This is her third year of writing for The Wrangler, and she is now an Editor-in-Chief. She is on the debate team, is the President of YLHS’ Turning Point USA chapter, is on the Superintendent’s High School Advisory Council, is a member of CSF and NHS, and is a player on the inaugural Varsity Flag Football team. Off-campus, she is a Junior Ambassador for the Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce. Anjeli plans to continue journalism and change the world through language.
Emma Perron
Emma Perron, Editor-In-Chief
Emma Perron is a senior at Yorba Linda High School. This will be Emma’s fourth year writing for The Wrangler, and she is one of three Editor-In-Chiefs. She is either at school or the soccer field; she is always busy. Emma is the Editor-In-Chief for the yearbook, The Roundup, and on the Yorba Linda High School Women’s Soccer Varsity team. She loves photography, writing, socializing, playing soccer, watching various sports, and listening to/collecting vinyl. In the future, Emma hopes to attend college in Utah and study Communications with a minor in photography. She is excited for her senior year and what the future holds.  

Comments (10)

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  • C

    Cynthia LanNov 30, 2023 at 7:44 AM

    This is interesting to know!

  • N

    NoelleNov 30, 2023 at 7:39 AM

    This is very interesting! I love that you added historical background – I have never really thought of the origins of these popular jackets, so I am glad I now know 🙂

  • S

    SimranNov 30, 2023 at 7:38 AM

    It’s so interesting to see the progression of how varsity jackets have been added to our fashion today! I am on varsity but I don’t have one and now I am definitely considering buying one to remember my years on tennis.

  • N

    NatalieNov 30, 2023 at 7:37 AM

    I think this article is very interesting and very well written!

  • N

    Nikole GaleaNov 30, 2023 at 7:36 AM

    I think that this is a popular staple for athletes, and it’s a good showcase for all their accomplishments. They are really expensive, which I think is a good topic to be included in the article. I feel like many are surprised about the price.

  • A

    Arya Devi BanerjeeNov 16, 2023 at 7:47 AM

    Hi! Your article is very well-researched and I love how you incorporated student examples. Great job!

  • J

    JourneyNov 16, 2023 at 7:44 AM

    It was very interesting learning more about letterman jackets!

  • L

    Lancy ShiNov 16, 2023 at 7:42 AM

    I never knew that these jackets were also worn as a fashion statement. I think they are really cute to wear, and I would love to own one myself

  • B

    Brenda LuNov 16, 2023 at 7:41 AM

    This article has so much information that I didn’t know of!

  • C

    Chloe ChangNov 16, 2023 at 7:33 AM

    I loved reading and learning about Varisty jackets, and how the tradition started.