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Style / September 2021
Tara Gardner, Reebok Contributor

Varsity Style Is Back. Here’s How to Work It.

Get your grown-up education this season with a varsity trend that masters the mood of sporty sophistication.

After a steady diet of loungewear and sweatsuits for the past year, the fashion pendulum is swinging toward more elevated trends—and varsity style is back on the menu. An iconic mix of preppy and sporty, varsity is a stylistic unifier, as popular with the gym jocks as the college professors. In short, there really isn’t anyone who can’t wear this trend. Varsity style pairs Ivy League logos and crests, letterman jackets and football-inspired motifs with a splash of scholarly, upper-crust British society via cricket knits, rugby shirts, Wimbledon whites and school uniform details. Whether worn in irony or aspiration, varsity is a vibe with many levels.
And while it rarely strays too far from runway and street style, this season’s varsity leans more heavily into its sporty DNA than previous iterations, driven by demand for comfort and ease. Still, the staples of varsity remain the same, so it’s all about fresh styling to keep this trend relevant. If you’re looking for new ways to find your school spirit, these are five ways to work varsity right now.

Make It Street

While varsity is grounded in collegiate references, it’s been widely embraced by streetwear in recent years, riffing off the trend’s mix and match attitude, oversized proportions, major motifs and logos. Stay true to the trend’s vintage roots and kick-off your look with Classic Leather Legacy AZ sneakers in grey and chalk berry for a fun vintage palette. Then let the proportion play begin. Go for a blown-out top half in the shape of a fleece hoodie with its sporty logo—double points if you buy it several sizes up for even more impact. Then keep it clean on your bottom half with bicycle shorts. Add some crisp white crew socks pulled up and you’ve got yourself a total mood.

Collegiate Colors

While varsity comes in all shades and styles, there are a few hues that really capture its heritage—and one of these has to be collegiate gold. An evocative shade that harkens back to school marching bands and mascots, the sunshine color finds a new home this season with athletic footwear. The Classic Leather Legacy AZ plays up the trend, pairing the vintage silhouette with a golden wash. Fly those colors further by combining your eye-catching kicks with another textbook varsity shade: maroon. Work a comfortably padded color block sports bra with matching maroon leggings, letting the fresh sporty pink panels keep things contemporary.

The Hero Piece

It’s impossible to talk varsity without looking to the classic letterman jacket, a true pillar of the aesthetic. While purists may prefer to stick to the original, for the more sartorially hungry, the latest iteration of the varsity jacket comes served in an evolved silhouette featuring new details and colors. The Classics Archive Zip-Up is designed with a vintage two-tone effect and crest motif that still plays strong, but allows for a more pragmatic, ready-for-any-activity vibe. Balance this piece with some sporty fresh sneakers: The Classic Leather Legacy AZ add a pop of seaport teal to echo the hue of the jacket collar. Slip on an easy crew dress to complete your outfit, wearing the jacket open on top or casually slung over your shoulders (country club style works, too, for even more attitude).

Team Sport

Celebrate the varsity trend’s sportier side with some major team player energy. Look to timeless track pieces in classic colors like the Classic Leather Legacy AZ in essential blue and red. Set these sneakers off against the archival mood of the cropped vector jacket and add workout ready shorts for a true vintage varsity edge.

Details, Details

There are plenty of other neat varsity elements you can weave into your look without doing head-to-toe. Pop a polo shirt or hoodie under a blazer, opt in on crest motifs and style a cable-knit sweater over your shoulders for a little Ivy League chic. For fall, push the preppy limits with pleated skirts or exaggerated midi pencil skirts paired with roomy coats and high-tops. Victoria Beckham’s tennis-inspired collection also has plenty of palette plays on those Wimbledon whites. Mix, match and get creative—because unlike its institutional roots, this is a trend that shouldn’t take itself too seriously. 

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Style / September 2021
Tara Gardner, Reebok Contributor