Nothing said star athlete, shining good looks, and school spirit quite like the letterman sweater. A cardigan-style sweater with button front and hip pockets, boys proudly wore their varsity letters attached to the sweater, advertising that they were a ‘letterman’ – bastions of school spirit and athleticism.
Letterman sweaters were a coat of honour, and varsity letters were a badge of pride. Local traditions differed, but all schools admired the prestige of the lettermen and personalised the sweater beyond attaching the varsity letter.
Names were embroidered, school crests were attached, and some schools knitted stripes into one of the sleeves, much like a military rank, to herald school loyalty through the years.
The dream of any teenage girl was to wear her sweetheart’s sweater around her shoulders. It was almost as good as being ‘pinned.’
The sweater eventually gave way to the more macho varsity jacket on most athletes’ shoulders, and thanks to the rise of female school athletics, the dream of wearing a boyfriend’s letter was replaced by earning one of your own.