Item Etiquette : Vintage Letterman General Style 67 Comments

JKISSI :  During his academic school years, every male ranging from High School to College feels the necessity to sport a letterman jacket. The one similarity connecting you with your peers in school, whether on an athletic team or not, is that the letterman jacket is  a clothing statement without words; sporting your individual schools traditional colors in style.
Recently, after finding myself a semester into my year-off hiatus from school, I suddenly had the urge to purchase a letterman jacket—so the search ensued… You could find yourself  in a very lucky situation  like our good friend Phillip Annand, who discovered his father’s deep maroon 1980s varsity jacket while rummaging in his very own attic. A great thing about these unique pieces is that each one holds a piece of history. A dilemma that many people  like myself will endure pertains to the fit of the jacket; seeking a slim, sleek fit compared to the more common bulky fit.

Joshua Kissi,Street Etiquette, Varsity jacket, vintage ivy, vintage ivy league jacket, vintage letterman,

The letterman is an American staple that seems to never diminish in style. The letterman as an individual, whether it be in U.S. sports, performing arts or academics, is a high school or college student who has achieved a specific level of participation and/or performance on a varsity athletic team, marching band, or in other school-sponsored performance activities. Originally, letterman jackets were only awarded to elite athletes, but in more recent years they have become more accessible to all members of the student body participating in a school activity.

vintage varsity, varsity letterman, vintage letterman, Joshua Kissi, Josh Kissi of Street Etiquette, bronx, style

Vintage lettermen jacket – Vintage golf tie –  BR shawl sweater – Uniqlo T-ooo &  Corduroy Shirt  - Tanner Goods belt –  Dexter loafers

Fit Description : It seemed I found my “vintage store heaven” when I laid my eyes on this jacket grouped in a disheveled rack of other vintage letterman jackets. I proceeded to try on the jacket and was surprised that it fit flawlessly, almost as if it was made for me but labeled for the “‘63 – ’64 Trinity Lutheran Playoff Champs”. The mocha-colored body was a hit for me as I’m an admirer of any variation of the color. Recently I have been on the search for various neck-wear to broaden my already growing collection, including this great piece, and the tanner goods natural leather belt is one of the sturdiest belts I have come across and it should build great character with regular wear.

The Brooklyn Circus recently released a fantastic letterman inspired by the  movie Cooley High, which personifies High School life in the 1960s.

Timeline – The letterman sweater was first regularly used by the 1891 “Nine”  Harvard baseball team and was black with a small Crimson ‘H’ on the left breast. Letter sweaters were a predecessor to letter jackets. The letter was usually quite large and centered (if the sweater was a pullover); stripes on one sleeve designated the number of letters won, with a star indicating a team captain.


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  • Lochnes Monsta

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    glad to see you guys are back =]

  • Najee D.

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    I swear I was scrolling downward expecting to see a pair of saddle shoes lol.

  • sssence

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    The letterman is definitely a classic piece and this post makes me want to rush to the nearest vintage store or flea market and get my grubby little hands on an old, haggard, wrinkled jewel. Thanks for continuing to up the ante.

  • Joseph A.

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    I never thought about checking a vintage store for a classic varsity. I now have been searching for a leather sleeved lettermans jacket with some a large print letter or symbol on the front for about 3 months now. I guess my last resort is to have one custom made. And it’s funny how you mentioned volley high I was just thinking about how your fit resembled that 50′s – 60′s nostolgic swag

  • kyx

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    Good work Josh.

    You are always killin it.

  • Eli

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    Delish, love it

  • Attila

        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    Fresh, but idk about the shoes and rolling up pants. just me tho


        posted on January 11 , 2010 :

    Looks great. I swear… I almost see a smile. Maybe you guys are changin’ for twenty ten? Smiles allowed? Come on!


        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Lochnes Monsta : We had never left a problem with the host is about it , but everything is now resolved and great.

    Najee D : You we’re almost right I guess , I do have a pair of light brown two tone saddle shoes which should make a appearance on here soon , definitely on the same wave length here lol

    sssense : You’re spot on I can’t guarantee any finds such as mine, but you can probably find something even more better knowing you where you reside, that would be a good idea.

    Joseph A : That sounds like a great find waiting to happen my brother , I encourage you to get on that journey and let me know what you find. leather sleeves were apart of my ideal varsity but I couldn’t find one that fit me. A custom letterman jacket could definitely work depending on the fit you would like.

    kyx : Thanks for everything man , you’re always doing the same on your side for sure.

    Eli : Thanks!

  • KPR

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    What Kyx Just Said.


        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Attila : Thanks , yup that is a personal preference just chose to do that for obvious reasons : Thank you , LOL no smiles over here on my side maybe on Trav’s , in my mind it would distract too much to cheese in every picture similar to a sears catalog or something. Maybe we’ll see what 2010 has in stored for us

  • VeeUrbanite

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Good Post I was also looking to buy one lately but could’nt find one with the right fit ..H&M had one but was sold out quicker than you can say streetetiquette.

  • Demilade

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Just as i thought you would wear it great job Jay

  • Minoru Blvd

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    That shawl is butter.


        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    KPR : Thanks for dropping by on the blog

    VeeUrbanite : Thanks Vee , personally I wouldn’t have recommended a H&M varsity because of just the quality of the piece I think you would be better off surfing the bay,vintage shops or just get you own customized at least you know they would last you a pretty good time.

    Demilade : Thanks dem you were one of the first people to see it lol appreciate the good word my brother.

    Minoru Blvd : The shawl definitely was a steal on sale also , been using it as a layering piece all winter now and I have to say it’s really playing its part. Keep up the good work still listening to the music collaboration you did with COE.

  • Prêt-à-Porter P

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    You never miss. I really like the detail of the cuff of the jacket with the stacked wooden bead bracelets.
    And I admire they way you incorporate a bit of fashion history into your posts.

  • Mister Anderson

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Another solid post & quite the coincidence as I tried on my father’s Howard varsity jacket this morning. The shoulders were too broad and it was a bit too bulky so it was left in his closet. Being a senior in High School I’ve been very tempted to buy our varsity jacket although the fit may in fact be too bulky but I can’t help but feel I will regret not purchasing one. Great find on the Trinity Lutheran letterman!

  • VeeUrbanite

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Yea I know I just wanted to get the H&m to have fun customizing as a mock up pretty much to see how it would turn out since it was cheap.

  • JessieADORE

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Love it. Love it. Love it.

  • Brick Callahan

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Oops, Kissi did it again. On point as always. I admire your ability to experiment so frequently, yet rarely look unorthodox or uncomfortable in your ensemble.

    I can’t say I’m a fan of the growing varsity jacket trend, but yours is low key enough that it doesn’t smack of the typical varsity jacket.

  • David

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    You definitely were on the money with this, for a pick to a post. I feel it goes overlooked even though many people have their own variations of cuts and styles of the jacket as it does add a certain collegial feeling to any attire that a man or women throws it on with. I belief that in the highest sense that the varsity jacket has mad a comeback along with its predecessor the varsity cardigan/sweater. Like you said before, it did come before the jacket, but I think that both have come back to leave a mark on our generation. Though, often you do come across one as yours and it has what seems like a unseen cut, sleek and slender as you said before. It is a really good look and completely complements the fit and some might say that it defines the fit in one way or another, but to me I think every piece in your fit is well rounded, meaning that each piece complements each other. Since we are on the topic of varsity jackets I think that if Kanye’s line Pastelle had dropped those varsities would have made a smash, especially for the cut of them. I think that is all for now maybe until you respond to this.

    P.S. Oh and I am starting to forget to post on here just for the fact that I have been super busy lately hopefully I can swing through a lot more often.

  • David

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Love the post and love the blog. I have to say though, that this look is hard to pull off once you hit 30. You risk looking like Al Bundy. Though I guess us post-30 guys could find a baseball jacket without the team patches. My dad still occasionally wears one of my old baseball-style jackets that is a blackwatch melton wool with black leather sleeves.

  • Elaine

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Wow. This is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time (found you on Lookbook, but I couldn’t comment on the “Yuri says…” look since I don’t have an account :) Thank you for this. Love love love!!


        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    How do you find all these amazing vintage pieces? haha another good look, diggin the loafers!

  • components of enthusiasm

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    yo, im not really a varsity jacket guy myself, but i can definitely respect this find. if that jacket could speak… major props, josh and trav!


        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Pret-a-Porter P : Thank you , pretty aware that the beads are a necessity at this point , I can’t leave my place of residence without them!

    Mister Anderson : Yes that is a pretty big coincidence I would imagine that jacket being a nice one knowing Howard U’s school colors range in Navy blue / Red / White making a awesome letterman. That’s very unfortunate what size was it ? if you don’t mind me asking possibly get it altered at a tailor who knows maybe it will become a hassle to do so, but if you find someone who can that would be great. Hey man I would recommend it just to have some history about your school unless you completely dread every second of being in that particular H.S lol.

    VeeUrbanite : Oh ok ok , I hear you on that I did something similar with this Topman varsity coat which was about $150-160 originally and I purchased it for $25 or so just to see how long and if it will stay up.

    JessieADORE : Thank you ! I appreciate the recommendation on twitter but I had to take matters in my own hands lol

    Brick Callahan : To be honest I look forward to using different elements and inspirations to come up with a outfit , I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong fearing experimenting different influences and styles to see which one works for you. Not that I change my style every week that’s not the case at all but interchanging different elements and details.

  • TheSouthSider

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Sartorial Varsity on the streets of NYC. Love it.

  • Kadeem J.

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Great post Josh. It’s really hard to find a vintage letterman that fits well. I’ve been searching for over a month now. Seeing yours makes me want to search even harder lol

    BTW the old school photo…pure genius

  • Style Salvage Steve

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    The Varsity Jacket is an item of clothing that I’ve never fully understood but I’ve always been in awe of them, seeing them on screen in old movies. Yours is a great find and you’ve styled it to perfection. You have undoubtedly breathed fresh life in to this iconic piece and even though you have experimented with a number of vintage pieces, it still feels new.

  • Dennis Todisco

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Awesome post J! Excellent use of a warm color palette and use of contrast with the sweater, and even more subtly (but completely) the socks. I appreciate how everything is brought in nicely with the tie, which also lends itself to the overall preppy sports motif. It’s dope how the story behind the jacket mirrors your journey…somebody definitely worked & trained hard to be a playoff champion about 40 years ago, and you also exerted a similar effort to find a perfect jacket. Well done sir.

  • thomas osam

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    another classic man. thas why i love this blog. always good quality stylish looks. keep up the good work man.

    and i DEFINITELY agree w/ Kadeem finding vintage stuff in the RIGHT size that ALSO fits well is quite the task.

  • Arlis Monzeglio

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    Ill… too ill.

  • Mister Anderson

        posted on January 12 , 2010 :

    It’s a size large and If my father decides to completely give me ownership I’ll definitely look for a tailor to have it altered. I’ll most likely buy my school’s letterman as a memorabilia & the colors which are maroon & gold are quite appealing in my opinion, but to be honest at many times I do dread walking upon that campus, lol.

  • G-reg

        posted on January 13 , 2010 :

    Dope post.

    Although its a pretty sweet jacket, I’m not too sure I’d need a letterman, but I do think every male does feel the need to represent their school, but nowadays I feel its more hoodies than jackets.


        posted on January 13 , 2010 :

    We just discovered your site — and lets just say that a couple of jaws were dropped!



  • Maya

        posted on January 13 , 2010 :

    woah, just discovered your site, amazing, almost insane. haha joking. Love it! Keep being a dandy!

  • illtek

        posted on January 13 , 2010 :

    Ahhhh that looks dope. I’m biting that (chomp chomp)! Need to find my FSU letterman now. Thanks fellas

  • LOLA

        posted on January 13 , 2010 :

    Another great look, as usual!
    And I actually do like the more fitted varsity jacket on a guy, unless you’re like a football player lol

    Such a coincidence that I just bought Cooley High on DVD


  • tara

        posted on January 15 , 2010 :

    hey Joshua and Travis, i’m tara ( blogger from Indonesia ). Your blog is so inspiring for me. Do you see my blog. Your blog is featured in my blog, hopefully you like it. Thanks.


        posted on January 15 , 2010 :

    David : Thanks Dave this post wasn’t even in the plans which is the funny thing about it, Finding the jacket was random as this post but when everything was coming into fruition it all made sense that it needed to be a post on Street Etiquette. Oh yes we have brands like Rugby who have executed the varsity sweater in such a great way this past year it’s only proper that the varsity letterman receives some love also , it has always been a staple but with the platform of the internet it’s so much more exaggerating when a specific clothing item begins to receive some ‘spotlight’. In my honest opinion it probably would of been a smash to a certain demographic but with some of the wild colors I was seeing turned me off immediately. maybe I’m wrong for that but it is discontinued now so I guess the product wont come live anyway.

    David : You made a very valid point there who wants to see a 30 year old strut around in a letterman meant for a highschool/college student with that I think the safest haven is just having one with no patches at all or something very minimal. I have a navy blue & red one which doesn’t have anything on it which kinds of dispels the notion of looking like a immature adult or some sort. Your dad is doing it right! lol

    Elaine : Thanks a lot ! : Just a steady eye on your favorite vintage shops should bring something that you like , thanks!

    components of enthusiasm : Yeah not everyone is , I definitely hear you on that all personal preference thanks for the good words, and I received the dm I will surely get on it! lol

  • Milly

        posted on January 15 , 2010 :

    The tones stupefied me. Great stuff Josh.

  • David

        posted on January 16 , 2010 :

    I agree completely with the overall response, it did seem somewhat as a random moment for this post. No need in saying this, but as you know in fashion with some designers may take the most random of materials and put them together to see a end result that is the new trend. So I am saying, you are right man if it feels right to post more than likely it was time for it. Anyway, that aside when are we getting a glimpse of that big project “Genesis of Style” documentary…? I really am impatient with big things like this, so pardon me for the rush, but I know with great things you have to give them time. Though, I must say that the jacket is definitely a clean addition to the fit. Oh, and another brand’s varsity jacket was one I saw on Oki-ni or maybe it was one by Junya Watanabe but it was a reversible one I might be getting those confused with his blazers that were reversible. Anyway, someone designed one that looked excellent. Haha

  • dayinthelyf

        posted on January 16 , 2010 :

    I feel like I should say ‘nice find’ or something but i would call this a phenomenal find. Its like you were destined to have this jacket man. In fact I think I need to hit up a vintage store sometime to see if i can find some type of treasure.

  • Peter Sarizki

        posted on January 17 , 2010 :

    Great varsity , nice post I’m now on the look out for one myself! Always reading my mind

  • Keith Brooks

        posted on January 17 , 2010 :

    You guys never cease to amaze or surprise me. Great fit man.

  • Jack

        posted on January 18 , 2010 :

    Great post that I can connect with. To me, a well made varsity/letterman reigns supreme over all or at least many other jackets.

    Recent posts have been a notch (or several) up in my opinion. Keep it up. Looking forward to the project with Tone as well.

  • Wrecked Stellar

        posted on January 18 , 2010 :

    Love the letterman look myself- bought a men’s Ralph Lauren sweater with a varsity letter on it. His jacket is great because of the fit and color combination. I’d pull out my high school varsity track jacket, but it was pretty bulky back then and I haven’t really increased in size. Plus, mine has all white leather sleeves which I’m sure only got dirtier in my basement. It’s covered up in a garment bag, but I’m sure I left it dirty as well. :)


        posted on January 18 , 2010 :

    The South Sider : Thanks man !

    Kadeem J : Yes that’s the truth on finding a letterman jacket that fits especially a vintage one and not the bigger ones that people wear now which is perfectly fine also all on personal preference. I would of originally thought that you spotted one your like always indulged in thrifting lol

    Style Salvage Steve : Yes Steve I agree with you even then the depiction of lettermans in movies always swayed myself to try to get my own one day. That’s the special thing about vintage pieces is the ability even by altering it a bit by tailoring is to breathe life back into the clothing piece by wearing it ‘your’ way.

    Dennis Todisco : Thanks Dennis my favorite part of that outfit was the warm color palette which I’m no strange to approaching outfits in a similar fashion , but this has to be one of my personal favorites if I’m even allowed to say such things publicly lol. I think the fact that this jacket is a benchmark in someone’s life is a fantastic thing , now I’m partially sharing the history. Next time I visit Boston I will have to definitely stop by.

    Thomas Osam : Thanks Thomas I’m glad you are inspired by everything we do , because trust me it’s a two way street – mutual.

    Arlis Monzeglio : Thanks my friend.

    Mister Anderson : A large shouldn’t be too bad now that I’m thinking about it , Yes I think that would be a great thing to do even though you like I said ‘dread’ being on that campus lol make the most out of it while you’re there lol. we are familiar with something similar in college!

    G-reg : Your kind of right on that people do wear sweatshirts now labeled with the schools name plastered right on the front, I really see this with females also just wearing the sweatshirt with a starbucks coffee in hand as they run to class and such lol.

    Distrik Mode : Thank you for even reading through our site and looking at the pictures. I browsed your site definitely a great read and look for females! great styling on the site, keep up the good work.

    Maya : Lol , we would take either adjective and content with it lol thanks for stopping by an dropping a comment.

    illtek : LOL! , I mean its inspiraiton to all, I was inspired by someone it’s all a highway of mutual inspiration for everyone to see!

    LOLA : Thanks ! I always look forward to your comments on the blog just knowing it from a female perspective just like a few other avid people who comment. Your right it’s definitely about fit and proportions , btw I encourage you to keep updating your blog I used to read it myself.

    What do you think of Cooley High? Love the movie personally.

    Tara : Tara we love the support all the way from Indonesia a place we hope to visit one day, I just looked at the post you did on us , thank you my friend. Nice blog


        posted on January 18 , 2010 :

    Milly : Thanks sister, checked out your email :d I’ll respond.

    David : On the timeframe of things it could of been the right time for anyone to post it in my opinion, I have been looking which could have delayed it , but with timeless staples such as this which is engraved in our American culture there would be no time limit on it to be posted. Maybe, in the ‘fashion’ world where constantly rely on the next in some instances not all because somehow we’re all fans of fashion. The video should be premiering right here on the blog in the coming week , we apologize for the wait but just understand projects like this take careful deliberate actions to just make sure everything is the way you want it. Trust me it will be good and thanks for the continuous support . It’s more shorter than a documentary though nothing too long to keep you sitting there for too long. Oh really? pull the trigger then lol

    Dayinthelyf : Yes man I could imagine living in places outside of NYC could provide some nice vintage finds and gems , everyone is pretty aware of thrifting over here so you might be able to find some great stuff where you live.

    Peter Sarizki : Thanks we’re just on the same wave length here man..

    Keith Brooks : Thanks! it should get better and better..

  • mat ahoy

        posted on January 19 , 2010 :

    Looks perfect, what a perfect find, so hard to find the correct fit

  • omowrites

        posted on January 20 , 2010 :


  • Wahiba

        posted on January 20 , 2010 :

    Hey there dudes!! I just stumbled across your blog and wow im IN LOVE!! You guys are simply amaze! Best dressed guys I’ve come across and way gorgeous too!!
    Check me out sometime @
    do you guys have twitter? @violetnight =)

    Have a wkd day much love Wahiba xx

  • Señor Combs

        posted on January 21 , 2010 :

    Yo J feelin the whole Coolie High steez! but I’ve been tryin to find me a decent letterman jacket for awhile

  • SwanDiamondRose

        posted on January 25 , 2010 :

    you really do source the best historical images. i like letterman jackets but i guess i always think of clothes in terms of how they would suit me. and lots of men’s clothes do, but letterman’s don’t. dunno why. you know what i like from that era? thick 50s and 60s cardigans with images knit into them. that stuff makes me crazy! got any of those in your closet?


        posted on January 28 , 2010 :

    Jack : Your absolutely right on that my friend I would pick it over many jackets knowing how many jackets and styles are out there that’s a big statement. IT’s such a classic silhouette you could wear for life depending on the patches and achievements on the jacket like someone said above you could still wear a blank letterman jacket when you get a bit older to retain the same style.


        posted on January 28 , 2010 :

    Wrecked Stellar : I had to laugh a little bit reading your comment only concerning the letterman jacket being stuffed downstairs in your basement, it might need some reviving if worth it you know lol. Nice a RL varsity sweater could work also like said in the post those particular styles were made before the letterman came into play. Btw nice blog and congrats on being Facebook’s NYFW corespondent.


        posted on January 28 , 2010 :

    Mat Ahoy : Thanks very much , it was a perfect find for me man just kind of worked n my favor once I picked it out the bunch.


        posted on January 28 , 2010 :

    Omo Writes : Thanks Samantha you got the idea at first we were putting other sources where you could purchase what we wore varying in prices than people started to think we were trend forecasting which we are really not but touching on classic staples and showing their history and such. Thanks for dropping a comment!


        posted on January 28 , 2010 :

    Wahiba : Hey Wahiba thanks so much for the sweet words we greatly appreciate it. You have a nice blog keep it up sure it will develop into some good with consistent hard work and such, thanks!! yup we’re on twitter also or click the link below to follow us..

    Senor Combs : Thanks man , yeah man its either you have to spend quite a bit to get the one you want or end up with cheap unfitting ones which don’t help the situation at all. They have some great letterman out there just some searching if your looking for vintage or brand new.

    Swan Diamond Rose : Yeah we like to show it being worn back in the day revolving around the whole idea that nothing is new but reinvented for us to go through and wear it in your own way. I have some thick knits but nothing with pictorials on them , I’ll look into that and see what can find. Again thank you for commenting on the blog always being a loyal reader, and that goes for everyone.

  • diana

        posted on February 2 , 2010 :

    looks like your channeling michael jackson! loves ittt

  • Cutty07

        posted on March 5 , 2010 :

    Yeah loving the Letterman!

    One thing we don’t get down here in New Zealand.

    If you are getting rid of it please let me know!

    Bloody good look!

    Great Blog.



  • Daniel Krieger

        posted on March 8 , 2010 :

    Great looking photos!

  • The Ca$h

        posted on March 21 , 2010 :

    Kiss this is great
    Rewinding time seems never to be a bad thing

  • menofcharisma (Men of Charisma)

        posted on April 6 , 2010 :

    I love their post on the vintage letterman jacket. My dream find!:

  • The GQ Eye The GQ Eye « WeTwo

        posted on February 19 , 2011 :

    [...] for figuring out what makes it tick. (Recommended: recent posts on vintage ties, tweeds, and letterman jackets.) They also have a strong sense of place (they’re from the South Bronx, and you’ll see [...]

  • Adam

        posted on September 2 , 2011 :

    What vintage store did you get this at? The jacket is niceeee..

  • Anonymous

        posted on October 8 , 2011 :

    Can vintage starter sport teams jackets be applied 2 this?