Thankfully, you needn't be a star of college sports to enjoy our cashmere "letter sweater".
Sports were perhaps the greatest influence on college style in the 20th century. We tend to forget thatsportcoats were in fact first worn forsports, and left without any infrastructure or padding because athletes were more muscular. That was the essence of “soft tailoring”. Not to mention button down shirts (first worn by polo players), shorts and light flannels (white for tennis), blazers (for rowing, the term comes from the bright stripes of these jackets), and a great variety of knitwear.
Knitwear has been a treasure trove of sportswear over the years: the off-white cable V-neck cricket sweater, the crew neck, the roll neck, and the short-sleeved polo are all styles that come immediately to mind, and each of which made popular over a hundred years ago and still seen today. A quick review of the walls of college gyms, boathouses, fraternities and club houses reveals countless photos of varsity teams accoutered in this nattysportsknitwear. At the moment I’m looking at a sepia-toned photo of the stalwart Yale University football team c. 1910. A robust group of fourteen young men, most with hair parted in the middle, wearing heavy canvas trousers tucked into stout boots, and beefy roll neck letter sweaters sporting a prominently displayed “Y” in contrasting colour stitched on the chest.