Why The Gilet Is The Best Layering Piece For Cool Weather
While it’s been said time and time again, it’s always worth repeating — fall really is the perfect season for layering. Come the drop of a few colourful leaves, all of your long sleeve shirts, mid-weight knits, sturdier trousers, and rugged leather boots are recalled back into your regular wardrobe rotation, and your pairing options increase tenfold, at the very least.
However, early autumn weather can sometimes still be too warm to break out your favourite jackets, especially when the sun decides to peek out between the clouds. In instances like these, there’s really only one clear layering piece winner for unpredictable or varied weather, and that’s the gilet.
If you’re curious to learn more about what a gilet is and why we think so highly of them, allow our comprehensive guide to this god-send of a garment to help you navigate through the fascinating world of the gilet.
What Is A Gilet?
A gilet, also known as a vest (or even puffer) in other parts of the world, is a sleeveless jacket or heavy sleeveless layer that resembles something of a waistcoat. How does this differ from a vest? Well, in the Queen’s English, a vest can also mean a ‘tank top’ undergarment, or a tailored waistcoat, or essentially anything else without sleeves.
Gilets, on the other hand, offer a more substantial, heavier weight, and oftentimes an insulated ‘jacket-like’ layer that better protects against the elements — as much as you can without sleeves, mind you.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really make an enormous difference what you call a gilet so long as you know what we’re talking about, because they’re going to come up quite often in this article and, frankly, you’ll need to keep up.
Looking for a few tasteful examples of gilets we admire? Say no more.
Why They Work
Whenever the weather begins to cool in the early days of autumn, it always comes as a surprise just how drastic of a difference a few degrees Celsius can feel.
When you’re used to a consistent 20 outside, 16 can feel like mid-winter. The funny thing about autumn is that these types of fluctuations happen all the more frequently, often during the transition between a crisp, dewy morning and a sunny afternoon.
As that relates to dressing, we find it’s these fine margins and gradual transitions in temperature that can make or break an outfit. Preparing for a day of dressing in these ‘between’ seasons can be challenging, to say the least, but having a tool like a great gilet on hand makes things all the more simple.
Warm weather late into autumn can be troublesome, especially when you’ve still got a few summer items on your shopping list. Learn how to curb those urges by following our 5 Signs It’s Time To Stop Buying For Summer here.
What To Look For
There are a few details that make up a ‘great gilet’ — details that we always seem to find ourselves looking out for, and in all honestly, details that separate the best from the ones that aren’t worth your time (or investment).
For starters, gilets should be extremely easy to dress up or down. That means materials that look natural yet refined, like a neutral-coloured suede, a matte wool or flannel, or even a luxurious hard-wearing cotton. The same goes for buttons — look for something like a brushed metal, a premium vinyl, or better yet, a natural horn.
The gilets we find ourselves reaching for the most also offer the perfect balance in weight. Yours should look more like a sleeveless jacket over a thick knit, yet pose just as well as a waistcoat under a roomy blazer or topcoat. This way, your gilet can service you from early autumn right the way through to late spring.
Gilets look absolutely fantastic worn with tailoring. Don’t believe us? See what we mean by reading our recent related article, Back To Work: Redefining The Modern Office Wardrobe here.
And of course, a gilet should also be practical yet streamlined in its features. A couple of deep hip pockets are useful alongside an inside breast pocket — one worked elegantly into the gilet’s lining. Exterior chest pockets or practically any pockets that have large zippers or hardware generally prove to be too obtrusive and less practical when worn underneath an outer layer.
Here are some prime examples of ‘great gilets’ we’ve been talking about above.
Where To Find Them
One of the things we love about gilets has been their steep rise in popularity over recent years. Whereas before it would’ve taken quite a while to identify the perfect one, nowadays everyone and their nan are selling them.
However, with great choice comes great responsibility; or whatever that quote is… As more options become available for the everyday shopper, it can be challenging to know how (and where) to discover that needle in the haystack. Our first piece of advice is to refrain from buying one from someone and their nan, unless they make an exceptionally stylish pair.
We recommend you look for brands that have a history of creating high-quality outerwear. Just because they may not have made a gilet before doesn’t mean they won’t have great ideas about what to include in their initial prototype.
Additionally, any brand with a reputation for producing quality tailoring will also most likely know what goes into a great gilet as their deep knowledge of shape, weight, and form will result in a sleeveless layering piece that can be worn with a wide range of tailored garments.
Lastly, we recommend that you trust us and our professional judgement. We wouldn’t write an entire ode to the gilet and then suggest a few poor examples of them, would we?