A person who dons a letterman jacket holds an extremely prestigious position in high schools and colleges. Students who wear these jackets are almost always the center of attention, and are very popular in the student community.
Did You Know?
During the 1800s, the football and baseball teams of Harvard University embroidered the letter ‘H’ on their gray flannel shirts. Captains allowed exceptional athletes who played important games to keep the shirts. This initiated a trend of using the letters as a symbol for excellence in a particular activity.
Letterman jackets commemorate a student’s contribution to any kind of sports or particular activity. Usually, the jackets are not purchased, made, or given unless a student really earns a letter for his/her meritorious achievements in academics, sports, music, etc. Students who contribute to the reputation and prestige of their schools or colleges by achieving success are awarded with letters and the letterman jacket. This encourages a sense of pride and accomplishment, and motivates students to put in their best efforts.
Before letterman jackets there were letterman sweaters, which had a big alphabet displayed in the center of the sweater. However, with changes in time and fashion, today’s generation has switched to stylish and colorful jackets. Here are two diagrams that will explain the design in more detail.
1. Jacket Body
2. Banded Stand-up Collar
3. School/College Name
4. Name of the Student
5. Name of Sport/Activity
6. Initials of School/College
7. School/College Logo
8. Year of Graduation
9. Banded Waist
10. Leather Sleeves
11. Banded Wristbands
12. Snap Front Closure
13. Leather Pocket Trim
14. School/College Mascot
15. Team Name
A letterman jacket is usually presented by the high school or college along with the letter for meritorious achievement. In some schools and colleges, only the letter may be given. In such cases, awardees will have to buy the jacket themselves and put the letter on it. Letterman jackets come in various designs and options, with women’s jackets available as well, in comparatively smaller sizes than men’s jackets. These jackets may or may not have a hood.
Though the placement of certain patches and embroidery is decided by the educational institution, many students change the placement according to their own fashion sense. However, let us take a look at the conventional placement of patches or embroidery on letterman jackets.
Most letterman jackets have two colors, but they can also be made in a single color. These jackets are usually made in the official colors of the high school or college. The main body of the jacket bears the primary color of the school, while the sleeves bear the secondary color. Here are the elements of design explained in brief.
Usually, the body of the jacket is made of boiled wool. It has a thick quilt lining to add warmth, and can also have a satin lining with inside pockets. It may also be available in synthetic and other material. A cotton jacket is recommended so that it can be worn in all seasons.
Banded Stand-up Collar
Both men and women letterman jackets have banded stand-up collars made of spun nylon knit to give them a stylish look.
Usually, the school or college decides the placement of its name on the jacket. It may be a chenille patch or embroidery.
Name of the Student
The name of the letterman appears in a chenille patch or embroidery on the jacket, usually on the front right side.
Name of Sports/Activity
The jacket also bears the name or symbol of the activity or sport in which the letterman excels. Sometimes, lettermen also sew medals onto their jackets, or use lapel pins depicting the symbols of their activities or sports.
Initials of School/College
The initials or first letter of the school’s name is usually placed on the left side of the jacket. It can be either the first letter or both. It is placed in a big, bold, and capital font.
It is also recommended that you put in the school or college logo on the jacket. It will trigger the emotion of integration among your teammates and batchmates when you meet each other after a long time.
Year of Graduation
In most cases, the school decides the placement of the name and graduation year patch. The graduation year of the student can be represented in two ways – by giving either the last two numbers of the year, or by adding the entire year. The location of this patch can vary from the top of the sleeve to the area below the pockets on the front of the jacket.
The waist band of a letterman jacket is made of spun nylon knit.
The sleeves of the jacket are made of leather. Basically, two types of sleeves are used in a letterman jacket. One is with a set of stripes on it, and the other without stripes. If you are placing any letters on the sleeves, it is advisable to go for a design without stripes.
Similar to the waistband and collar, the wristbands of the jacket are also made of spun nylon knit.
Snap Front Closure
The jacket may have a snap front closure or a zipper. In the case of zips, there can be two options – it can be a half zip or a full zip. This must be decided according to the climate of the region that you live in.
Leather Pocket Trim
The two pockets of the jacket are lined with leather trim.
Many times, the school’s mascot is also depicted on the back of the jacket along with the team’s name.
Often, lettermen who are part of a championship team place a large patch of their team’s name on the back of their jackets.
This may represent the letterman’s uniform or jersey number. It is usually placed on the front side of the jacket or on the sleeves.
Many times, the jacket is provided by the school or college. If not, you can order them – either from the athletic department in your school or college, or from a local sports store (usually designated by your school or college). The benefit of going to a local store is that you can easily check the quality of the fabric, its colors and chenille work, personally. This will facilitate immediate redressal of problems, if any.
Today, many students prefer to design their own jackets so that they can attach the awarded letters in a trendier way. Many vendors provide varsity jackets with a customized set of features. These jackets are made by the vendors to suit the style and design of the customer’s choice. Many high school students who have graduated recently prefer to have their own customized jackets, so that they can place their achievements on one single jacket. A great advantage of ordering such a jacket directly from the vendor is that it turns out to be inexpensive.
Usually, the jacket will be delivered in about a month and a half. Ordering letterman jackets online is also cost-effective as compared to the money involved in buying them from a local vendor. Study and compare the offers of various websites and stores to get the best deals and discounts on the jackets. Do not forget to re-check if the details you have provided online are accurate, before finalizing the order.
✦ The best way to design your own letterman jacket is to use your creativity, but you can always refer to other designs by surfing the Internet or by observing others.
✦ Bear in mind the number and size of letters that you received in high school. Also, consider the material of the jacket before putting any kind of chenille patches or embroidery on it.
✦ You can customize your own chenille letters to give it a different look by changing the font type and font size. You may also change the border, color, and design to make the letters stand out from the rest.
✦ Place the letters creatively to make the jacket stand out. Decide the location of the patches if they are removed, or moved to a different place, as they may leave holes on the leather.
✦ If you want uniformity in the jackets for your batchmates, then design a common jacket for all and order in bulk. This will also be a cost-effective option.
✦ Most students wear their jackets for batch reunions that take place in many high schools and colleges. It is advisable to store it in a dry place so that it can be used for years.
Though the traditional placement of chenille patches and embroidery is preferred, you may experiment with the location of your name, letters, mascot, emblem, activities, position, scripts, state, school logo, numbers, and year of graduation. Check if you want the chenille patches to be straight or across. Always remember that letterman jackets usually cost a few hundred dollars, so buy them only if you are going to use them in future. You can also add the decorations and patches on your jacket at home. These jackets go beyond just communicating your accomplishments, they speak volumes about your sense of style with the way you carry them. So, give your letterman jacket a trendy look to make an impressive fashion statement.