How to Style a Varsity Jacket in 2024 to Look More Taylor Swift and ‘Riverdale’

Zero athleticism required

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how to style a varsity jacket UNIVERSAL
Abby Hepworth for PureWow

Tennis skirts, rugby shirts, polo collars—sporty details have been in for years now, but the trend appears to have reached a fever pitch in the past few months, thanks in no small part to Taylor Swift entering her NFL era. And the style rocketing to the top of every shopping list appears to be the classic varsity jacket—which in turn has led to tons of us (Swifties and not) to wonder how to style a varsity jacket without looking quite so “high school jock.” Because the retro style can’t help but evoke images of Saved by the Bell, Glee and Riverdale, which isn’t exactly the vibe we’re looking to put off at Sunday brunch with the gals. So, to get the most out of our favorite new spring outerwear, we pulled together seven super-cool outfit ideas you’re going to want to copy ASAP. Read on for all the best ways to style a varsity jacket in 2024.

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how to style a varsity jacket black jacket
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1. Ease Your Way in with a Neutral Hue

If bright collegiate colors feel a bit too bold for your taste, you can always opt for a black, navy or gray varsity jacket instead. The dark neutrals have an inherently elevated vibe and are easier to mix in with your existing wardrobe. They also feel less attention grabbing even when wore with classic basics, like jeans and a white button-up shirt.

how to style a varsity jacket black outfit
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2. Let Your Jacket Shine with an All-Black Base

On the flip side, if you do want your varsity jacket to be the star of the show, there’s no better way to style it than with an all-black base. You can also choose to keep your accessories on the neutral side, but we think repeating some of the accent colors from the patches on your jacket (like the red bag and red patches pictured above) is an incredibly fun way to emphasize that sporty detailing.

how to style a varsity jacket minidress
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3. Layer Your Jacket Over a Minidress

You can go the full sporty route and pair your varsity jacket with a tennis dress, but it can also look chic layered over a slightly dressier minidress (in cotton, linen or even silk). It can look especially cool if your dress and jacket are roughly the same length. As for accessories, you can either play into your chic frock with strappy sandals and a petite handbag, or you can go for easy kicks and a crossbody.

how to style a varsity jacket minimalist
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4. Try a Minimalist Approach

If you find yourself gravitating toward varsity jackets with minimal details, maybe just one or two patches or a single name embroidered on the chest, try pairing it with other minimalist wardrobe staples. A classic button-up shirt, pointy-toe flats, wide-leg jeans and a sleek shoulder bag create a great base for showing off your trendy jacket without actually feeling overly trendy.

how to style a varsity jacket matching shoes
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5. Use Color to Connect a Fancy Pair of Shoes

If you’re having some trouble pairing such a sporty trend with items that are a bit more posh, we suggest leaning hard into color. Find a pair of heels that are an exact match (or at least very close) to the main color of your jacket, then keep all other elements of your outfit fairly neutral. The end result is an effortlessly cool mix-and-match look you can wear just about anywhere.

how to style a varsity jacket elevated sporty
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6. Opt for More Elevated Sporty Separates

If you like leaning into the origins of the varsity jacket with other athletic staples, you can always layer it over your athleisure favorites, like leggings, a tennis skirt or bike shorts. But if you want something a bit more fashion forward that’s every bit as comfortable, you can instead choose athleisure-inspired pieces with elevated twists. We’re talking super-bright sneakers, satin cargo pants, a cashmere polo shirt, etc. And don’t forget to add a pair of sporty sunnies to the mix as the ideal finishing touch.

how to style a varsity jacket retro
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7. Embrace the Retro Vibes

The best thing about varsity jackets is you can easily pull them from your Dad’s closet or local consignment shop. But why stop there? Gather more inspo from Pop’s wardrobe and opt for oversize denim, thick white socks and old-school sneaks to tie the look together. Now go forth and remind loved ones to get their oil changed.



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...

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Senior Social Strategy & Trends Editor

From 2017-2023 Michaela Magliochetti held the role of Senior Social Strategy & Trends Editor covering wellness, horoscopes, trends and more.

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