The Varsity Trend Is The Natural Progression Of Preppy Fashion & We Love The Retro Vibes

We're all familiar with the preppy look: knitwear, plaid, argyle, and tennis club-inspired outfits that enable anyone to ironically (or not so ironically) evoke the tastes of old society money. Preppy accessories are making a comeback in 2023, and the fascination with posh, academic-inspired outfits is expected to continue to be on the rise this summer, but with a significantly campier twist: the varsity trend.

Letterman jackets, letterman sweaters, and other retro sporty accessories are popping up everywhere; it's as if we've all wandered into a vintage issue of Archie Comics. A varsity jacket might feel like an excessively twee apparel choice, but the casual fit and sporty stripes blended with the classic collegiate lettering brings all the fun you like to see in summer fashion. Whether you prefer a simple jeans and jacket outfit or want to fully lean into the vintage preppy aesthetic, a varsity jacket (or sweater, for those who want a softer feel) should be at the top of your summer style shopping list.

Pair with a pleated skirt

Make the varsity trend cute and flirty with a pleated skirt, the quintessential preppy piece. You'll look like you just stepped out of a 1950s college campus when you pair it with a varsity jacket or sweater. For a classic look, choose a white pleated skirt that falls mid-thigh. You can also mix things up with a colorful skirt style, or, if you're a varsity gal who likes the freedom of movement, swap out the skirt for a sporty skort.

Keep it light

Experiment with light colors, such as pastels. Find a letterman sweater or jacket in a pale shade that flatters you best, and match it with a minimalist ensemble. Those early summer days can be tricky to dress for, and a varsity-style layering piece will protect you in cool summer evenings without detracting from your favorite warm weather fashion pieces. If you want an extra vintage aesthetic, hunt through a thrift store for a letterman sweater that's naturally faded over time, giving you both the authentic retro look and the perfect shade for a light-toned outfit.

Try it in leather

Many vintage preppy and varsity styles emphasize soft, decadent fabrics like wool, channeling the mid-twentieth-century Ivy League fashions. However, you can bring your varsity jacket aesthetic into the edgier 1980s with a leather jacket. You can get a leather varsity jacket in a muted hue, or keep things more preppy with a bold color-blocked style. Pair it with a cropped T-shirt and your favorite pants for an iconic casual going-out look.

Be playful

Your varsity accessory doesn't have to reference a real school. Get a piece with a cheeky pop culture reference, such as a Hogwarts letterman jacket or a Little Miss Sunshine sweater. If you can't find a varsity item that matches your passions, get some iron-on patches and customize a plain letterman jacket, which can become the ultimate signature summer accessory. Just be sure to prevent the look from becoming too costume-y by incorporating a few mature pieces, such as a nice shirt or a high-end pair of sunglasses.

Coordinate your neutrals

If you love capsule wardrobes, don't hesitate to add a varsity jacket to your collection. An on-trend varsity jacket will quickly become one of the essentials you need to build a capsule wardrobe. It's casual enough for everyday wear but you can still dress it up for fancier occasions, especially if you choose a timeless, neutral color. Aim for a sturdy jacket that matches your most-used neutral-tone items. You can also try out a jacket with an eye-catching accent color such as blue or red if you want to upgrade your standard look.

Add a pop of color

Folks who want colorful and fun summer outfits that are also effortless are sure to become big fans of the varsity trend. Letterman sweaters and jackets often have vibrant colors that can take your regular T-shirt and pants ensemble from mundane to memorable. If you like the retro element of the varsity look, you'll appreciate the comic book aesthetic from the bright hues of a traditional letterman jacket. Throw on a bold lip color and vintage sunglasses, and you'll be the retro beauty queen of the summer.