Traditional Letter Jackets
In the mid-19th century, the Harvard baseball team needed something physical to distinguish its best players.
In 1865, they adorned their thick knit sweaters with the letter H. The uniforms were called lettermans and were sported by the best performing players on the team. In 1875, Harvard’s football team adopted the letterman uniform, carrying on the best players only rule. This exclusivity made these jackets symbols of prestige and hard work, and people loved them. By the 20th century, letterman jackets had transformed from the thick knit sweater into cardigans and heavy leather and wool jackets. Due to the way in which they were earned, they were referred to as varsity jackets.