Appearance and styleThe body (i.e., torso) is usually of boiled wool and the sleeves of leather with banded wrists and waistband. Letter jackets are usually produced in the school colors with the body of the jacket in the school’s primary color and sleeves in the secondary color. They usually feature a banded collar for men or a hood for women.
DecorationsThe letter jacket derives its name from the varsity letter chenille patch on its left breast, which is almost always the first letter or initials of the high school or college the jacket came from.
The name of the owner usually appears either in chenille (matching the letter) or is embroidered on the jacket itself. The owner’s graduation year usually appears in matching chenille, Placement of the name and year of graduation depends on school tradition. The year is most often sewn on the right sleeve or just above the right pocket.
Lettermen who play on a championship team often receive a large patch commemorating their championship that is worn on the back of the jacket.
Lettermen who participate in a sport in which medals are awarded often sew the medals onto their jackets to display their accomplishments.
History 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.
TraditionLetterman jackets are almost never purchased before a student has earned a letter. In schools where only varsity letters are awarded this is usually in a students’ junior or senior year. In schools where junior varsity letters are awarded, the jacket may also be purchased by junior varsity letter recipients, though the letter is placed just above the left pocket, leaving space for a (hopefully) future varsity letter.
Some schools may award letterman jackets to letter winners at the award ceremony, but more often the school only provides the letter.
While it is commonly done, removing one’s letter from the letterman jacket upon graduation is not firmly held in the protocol. Many graduates keep the letter on the jacket after graduation as a symbol of accomplishment