The Captain and Chenille

The Captain and Chenille

Published Mar 10, 2021 by Rick Cundiff

OK, we’re going back a few years on this one, my friends. All the way back to those halcyon days we all knew and loved – high school.

Most of us have at least some fond memories of those four years. Highlights for many of us included the activities we were involved in. Clubs, football, basketball, track, baseball, band, drama you name it.

For some, the greatest perk of those days was the letterman jacket. You know, the one with the patch you earned for your contributions to the team. That fuzzy patch, known as chenille, was a symbol of your achievement.

Well, apparently not so much any more. The secondary school status symbol of the past century, the iconic star of every teen movie ever made, has fallen out of fashion over the past 20 years or so. Not even the team captains are likely to wear them today.

That’s not the fault of the chenille, of course. The timeless style is made of short lengths of yarn (the “pile”) inserted between two “core” yarns, then twisted together. The result is a soft, fluffy yarn with a distinct appearance.

But times and fashion change, especially in the world of teenagers. So the classic letterman jacket is too “yesterday” for contemporary young adults.

Not to worry. If you’re still interested in a letterman jacket, you can still buy custom chenille patches. You can add your own letter(s) to just about any jacket or vest.

Besides, while it’s not likely, it’s always possible that teen fashion will circle back some day to the classic look. Retro does have its day every now and then. Take it from someone who drives a new Beetle that looks like an old Beetle. Things can change from iconic to ironic in the blink of an eye.

And for those of us old-timers who fondly recall letterman jackets, Friday nights in the bleachers at the football game, the fast times and valley nights of those days, the classic chenille letter remains a reminder of happy days gone by and sharks were never jumped. And if you’re old enough, you know exactly what I did there.