When you take a look back at the 1980s, you’ll notice that some trends were wildly popular and some that might otherwise be forgotten. But one thing that never goes out of style was pride in your hometown and school, and there was a unique fashion that took hold in the 80s that encapsulated this feeling.
One of the bigger 80s fashion trends for younger folk attending high school or college was the “Letterman Jacket”.
Letterman jackets were basically jackets that had your school’s name or initials on them, and they were typically worn by the students who were athletes, and thus it was a quick way to recognize the “cool kids”.
Letterman Jackets In The 80s
The 1980s was a decade that took many fashion mistakes to the grave including oversize shoulder pads, neon-colored clothing, legwarmers, and overtly loud print t-shirts. It also saw the rise of acid wash jeans, velour tracksuits, and Reebok sneakers.
But one item that we saw then, and actually still see today, was the varsity letterman jacket. During the 80s it was practically seen in every American town, and the fashion also found a prominent place in many of the most iconic 80s movies.
Feature films like- All the Right Moves, The Breakfast Club, Beverly Hills Cop, and Teen Wolf were just a few of the blockbuster 80s movies that featured characters wearing letterman jackets. But why exactly were varsity letterman jackets a popular 1980s teen fashion trend?
Why Letterman Jackets Ruled
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the popularity of the letterman jacket is to understand what they represented. If you were in high school or in college, it was about representing real school pride, but it was also announcing to everyone else that you were part of an exclusive club.
Varsity athletes were usually the popular kids in school, and you needed to make sure you let everyone know you were a part of that exclusive clique. And one not so subtle way to do this was to wear a letterman jacket.
For every girl who was lucky enough to be dating one of the team members on a baseball, basketball, or football team, it was a huge honor to wear their boyfriend’s letterman jacket for good luck during the game.
Letterman jackets also represented your school’s honor, and as a wearer you were defending the colors that were symbolic of your school.
People that wore letterman jackets ruled your high school, and just being friends with someone who owned one was actually considered a cool status trend.
If you wore a varsity letterman jacket, you were pretty much a superhero without having to wear a cape. Yet, when it came to looking cool, nothing said it more proud than the brilliant bold colors and the oversize letter embellished on the front side of each jacket.
A Winning Trend That Took Off
If it wasn’t for a strong love affair with the school team spirit trend, the letterman jacket may not have been as popular as it was during the 1980s. However their appearances in many pop culture areas also boosted their popularity.
One such notable example was when Michael Jackson featured a letterman jacket in his epic music video “Thriller” in 1983. Before he transforms into the monster in the music video, Michael Jackson can be seen wearing a red and gold letterman jacket.
Furthermore upcoming rap artists like Run DMC and NWA were quick to catch on to this trend, and they made it cool to represent and wear letterman jackets as well.
It didn’t take long before well-known professional sports teams like the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics were making their own letterman jackets. The trend exploded and became an image that was celebrated by everyone no matter where you grew up. It’s one of the very few fashion trends that crossed all boundaries, and you just don’t find many other items of clothing that does that anymore.
Though the 1980s are long gone, the letterman jacket is still around making a comeback as a cool retro clothing item. And since school pride and winning never goes out of style, we doubt that the letterman jacket will either.