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What is a Track Jacket?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 21, 2024
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A track jacket is a lightweight jacket with ribbed cuffs and waistband. The front zipper runs the length of the stand-up collar, allowing it to be closed over the throat. With a lowered zipper, the collar can lie flat. This type of jacket commonly features two front slanted pockets that may be zippered, and often has contrasting piping.

The traditional track jacket is a windbreaker intended for jogging or exercising that was often purchased as part of a two-piece tracksuit. These jackets are oversized to be as comfortable as possible, allowing free movement for maximum mobility. They were commonly solid in color aside from piping or emblems, and some featured open eyelets under the arms for cooling.

Though embraced by sporting communities including track and field, golf, and sailing, to name just a few, the style became popularized throughout the 1990s by the rapping and hip-hop community who embraced high-end track suits as every day fashion wear. Over the years, the track jacket's simplicity and versatility have made it adaptable to a number of styles. Today's versions are more varied than ever. It might be a windbreaker, exercise jacket, emblem jacket, or even a pullover with classic track lines and collar. It might have contrasting panels, striped ribbing, or special pockets for personal mobile electronics, such as an MP3 player or cell phone.

A track jacket can be made of weatherproof nylon, casual cotton, comfy fleece, silk or satin. In addition to roomier cuts, contemporary jackets are often tailored for a slimmer, more flattering fit. A track jacket might be sold singly or with matching pants. It can be dressed down or dressed up to fit nearly any informal occasion, and the style remains as popular today as ever.

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Discussion Comments
By anon137114 — On Dec 26, 2010

I think velour looks really cheap, even the $100-plus Juicy Couture tracksuits. Easy to get stained, easy to look fat in. I've always thought they look hideous but, they can look good on certain people.

By Planch — On Nov 23, 2010

OK, so I'm all for track jackets -- men's track jackets, women's track jackets, whatever, they all look fine to me.

What I don't understand is the whole trend in massively over-sized track jackets. I mean, I understand that track jackets aren't supposed to be fitted, but some of the ones that you see today even hang down past people's knees!

So explain that one to me -- what is the allure of wearing a jacket that looks like a tent, (I think this is especially true in mens track jackets), even if it does have little logos emblazoned all over it?

Is there some fashion that I'm missing out on, or what?

By FirstViolin — On Nov 23, 2010

What do you guys think about velour track jackets? I have to say I've never really been a fan of that look.

I don't know if it's because people usually wear them with matching velour pants, or the crazy bright colors they come in, or their tendency to break at the slightest pressure, but the whole velour thing just doesn't work for me.

Besides, why would you want to go around looking like a stuffed animal? And is it just me, or does velour always look really cheap? I don't know, something about it has just always gotten my back up.

What do you guys think?

By TunaLine — On Nov 23, 2010

When I was younger, I had this retro track jacket that was just my world! I thought I was so cool wearing this crazy old women's track jacket that must have come from the 1970s (if not earlier).

It was bright red, with white stripes and detailing, and on the front it had a little dog mascot. I got it at a thrift store, so I really don't know what team the jacket was from or anything, but man, I really loved it.

Track jackets really are a good piece to have in your wardrobe (even if they're not as amazingly retro as mine was), just for those days when it's too chilly for regular clothing, but not cold enough for a sweater or jacket. Excellent spring piece, and sometimes also works for summer evenings, depending on wear you live.

And best of all, they're usually pretty cheap, as long as you don't care about the brand, so its easy to get one to get you through those chilly early spring days.

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