Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Letter Jackets...Above & Beyond MCM

I love the Mid-Century Modern look in decor...furniture and accessories. I also have a penchant for other things extending into the MCM experience. This includes a lot of different elements, some of which I've collected over time...many long before I began bringing in MCM furniture and seeking the appropriate accessories to highlight those pieces.
I've always been a fan of cool retro jackets and have quite few in my closet. When I first started finding athletic jackets, club jackets, and the like I was rather naive about the genre.
The blue & white satin jacket in the middle of the picture is an unmarked "club jacket" from the 1950s. I found this jacket in a bundle of clothing I bought in 1978...thought it was cool and kept it. I've worn it a number of times before retiring it to "display only" status. That's when I began to learn about the "reversibles" and concentrated my efforts there.
Let me explain the "reversibles." These are club and athletic jackets which are fully reversible giving you two different looks. They are usually melton wool on one side and satin on the other. It's rather rare to have both sides display a team or club logo, name, or other graphic, but it's possible...rare, but possible.
What's so cool about the "reversibles" is you have two jackets in one...and two distinctive looks. I love to be searching a secondhand store or flea market and find a reversible jacket...I get jazzed, especially when the price doesn't take into account the rarity of the jacket. A lot of times the seller has no idea the jacket is a reversible. If this is the case, I'll usually point it out...then I'll buy the piece if the price is reasonable. Here's the quickest way to tell if you have a "reversible' jacket, 1) you have closing snaps on the inside and outside, or 2) pockets on both sides...both identifiers are the first thing I look for when I'm checking out a jacket.
I obviously get a bigger kick out of a jacket that fits me, but will buy smaller ones also, just because I like the style. Some will have the name of the original owner sewn across the left front...athletic jackets usually have the original name inside one of the pockets. So, if you find a cool letter jacket, check inside each pocket to see if there's name sewn inside...many times you can tell by the name whether it was a guy's or gal's jacket. Not that it makes any difference, but it's fun to know. I have jackets from junior high school up through college...I had a cool letter jacket from Yale not long ago and sold it at a market here in Austin. The best finds outside of "reversibles" are jackets with a lot awards...District Champs, All-State, State Champs, etc. Some even come with other doodads...I have one "reversible" girl's jacket with "Going Steady" strings on the letter. Usually from the 50s or early 60s...it showed the gal wearing the jacket was not available...gotta love those little signs from the past. Also you'll find a lot of metal pins indicating a sport...some will be sewn into the letter or jacket but a lot were metal and simply attached.
I'm finding a recent surge in demand for vintage and retro letter jackets...maybe it's because of Lady Gaga's video with the dancers all wearing vintage letter jackets.
Anyway...I've been collecting for over 30 years and still wear 'em.
I've got one reversible with the name "Lenny" over the left chest. I've worn it to parties and been called "Lenny" all evening by people who didn't know me, just assumed I must be "Lenny" because that's what the jacket said. That jacket is one that has info on both sides as "Lenny" is on the front of the wool side and the white satin reversible side has "N C E" on the back. I have no idea what "N C E" stands for...but, what the heck...at that point whatever you make up sticks.
What better way to have fun, enjoy collecting, and have a useful piece all at the same time...besides you can have an alter ego when you wear them.
Enjoy the hunt the cool, vintage, retro, and antique finds...like you'll find at Roadhouse Antiques & Vintage on-line and at home in Austin.

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