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Can a Varsity Jacket be Tailored? (Solved!)

Varsity jackets are huge right now. Go to any fashion show, look at any influencer’s Instagram feed, and all you would see are outfits in varsity jackets.

Also called “letterman jackets” in some parts of the US, this piece of outerwear is known for its association with high school and college-level sports. Many schools give their athletes a varsity jacket for competitions.

And this has led to a huge thrifting culture around varsities. But with thrifting, you might not get the perfect fit for you, and thus tailoring might be necessary.

In this article, I will tell you if you can get your varsity jackets altered, and some related tips and tricks.

Can Varsity Jackets be Altered?

varsity jacket

Varsity jackets can be tailored. Alterations are possible in the length, width, and fit of the jacket. However, certain alterations, particularly those pertaining to the leather sleeves, are going to cost you a fair bit.

The traditional varsity jacket has leather sleeves and a wool body. However, modern iterations are sometimes made from jersey fabric (the material used for making sweatshirts). No matter what the fabric of the varsity jacket is, most basic alterations can still be done on it.

The alterations that are pertaining to the torso and the body of the varsity jacket are usually much easier to make. And therefore, they cost less. These alterations include reducing the length of the jacket, making the jacket tighter, and adding patches to the jacket.

However, the sleeves of a varsity jacket are a different story. Because they are made from leather (or PU), tailoring them requires dedicated machinery and skill. But it does not mean that these alterations cannot be done, it’s just that you are going to be paying a slightly higher price for a job well done.

These alterations include reducing the length of the jacket sleeves, making the sleeves tighter or looser, tapering them, and adding patches to the leather.

What parts of a Varsity Jacket cannot be tailored?

It is very difficult to make alterations to the armhole region on a varsity jacket. Because of the unusual mix of two very different fabrics (wool and leather), working on the armhole, which connects the wool body to the leather sleeves, becomes very difficult.

It is still possible, but a good tailor is going to charge you a very high amount for it. On average, such alterations are done above the hundred-dollar price range.

Therefore, I will recommend you to not get the armhole region of your varsity jacket taken in or taken out.

Cost of Tailoring a Varsity Jacket

Part of the Varsity JacketCost of tailoring
Hemming the sleeves$100
Tapering the sleeves$125
Tighten the waist$50
Adding patches to the body$20
Adding patches to the sleeves$50
Taking in the torso$50
Total cost of tailoring a Varsity Jacket$395

The cost of tailoring a varsity jacket can range from anywhere between $20 to $395 depending on the number and type of alterations you want.

Remember, these are just rough estimates. Tailoring costs vary on a case-to-case basis. And the reputation of the tailor as well as your location can also influence the price of these changes.

Basically, treat these numbers as a reference point only.

Can Varsity Jackets be Tailored at Home?

Some alterations on a varsity jacket, especially those related to the wool body, can be done at home. However, other alterations, pertaining to the leather sleeves of the jacket, can only be done by a professional tailor.

A simple rule of thumb – if it’s an alteration on the wool portion, you can do it at home. If it’s on the leather portion, it’s time to go to a dedicated leatherworker.

In fact, some of these alterations are so simple that they can be done without a sewing machine!

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this video.

This dude shortened the length of his varsity jacket (and made it more “modern”) by just a needle and some fabric!

Therefore, it is important to assess what changes you really need and why do you need them before you even think about going to a tailor.

Can patches be added to a varsity jacket?

Patches are a huge part of the appeal and the look of a varsity jacket. Most varsity jackets already have patches of their own, but you can still add a few patches to the fabric relatively easily.

Like everything else in this article, you would have to behave very differently depending on where you want the patches to be added – the woolen body or the leather sleeves.

You can add patches to the body of a varsity jacket with a needle and some thread. If you have a sewing machine, then it’s even less of a hassle.

However, if you want to add patches to the sleeves of the jacket, you would need some dedicated equipment that can handle leather. And because most of this stuff is too expensive, it would be better if you directly go to a tailor.

A tailor who has the experience of working with leather would be able to add patches to it quite easily.

Final Remarks

Varsity jackets are probably the coolest piece of outerwear right now. And because it is a vintage piece, many people would prefer thrifting a letterman jacket rather than buying a completely new one.

And because thrift store finds may not always fit you perfectly, it is very important that you get your varsity jacket tailored.

I will recommend that you go to a professional tailor so that the alterations made are perfect and exactly to your liking.