The Women’s Gilet: The Perfect Spring Layer


Written by: Jodie Lindop

It’s the time of year when the sun beckons you outside. Its rays offer pleasant warmth on your face but there’s still enough of a nip in the air that going sans jacket is not an option. Enter the versatile gilet.

What is a gilet?

A gilet is essentially a sleeveless jacket that covers your upper body, keeping your core toasty warm whilst leaving your arms free to go about their business without cumbersome layers. In other words, the women’s gilet is a genius layer for spring.

When you head to the office or out running errands in the spring, a full coat is usually too hot in transit or indoors, but you likely need another layer to fend off crisp breezes outdoors. Many gilets and waistcoats are lightweight enough to pack in your bag until needed outside. The sleeveless design also makes them excellent options for active excursions requiring more freedom of movement than a full coat allows, hence the gilet’s popularity among those who enjoy outdoor activities such as shooting, cycling and fly fishing.

A pocketed waistcoat makes an excellent travel companion in any season, offering all-day warmth as you take in the sights, as well as safe storage for sunglasses, credit cards, and identification.

A Gilet by Many Other Names

What’s the difference between a gilet and a waistcoat? Nothing. Traditionalists will likely contend a waistcoat is a woven, button-up garment along the lines of Diane Keaton’s iconic version in Annie Hall, and that the term gilet should be reserved exclusively for quilted outerwear. But in modern fashions, the names gilet and waistcoat have become virtually interchangeable. To confuse matters further, gilets are also called bodywarmers. Across the pond in the US, these garments are often referred to as vests.

How to Wear a Gilet or Waistcoat

Today’s gilets for women are usually tailored with room enough to fit comfortably over a shirt and jumper whilst still maintaining a flattering silhouette. Even puffer-style quilted gilets offer a sleek, slim-fit cut these days.

Finishing an outfit with a gilet is simple: put together an ensemble you love and top it with a gilet you love. You’re unlikely to go wrong. A long-sleeved plaid or printed shirt creates a smart look with a solid gilet. For classic country attire, pair a cardigan or crewneck merino wool jumper with a utility waistcoat. For a more casual look, throw your gilet atop a hoodie. For overcast spring days, a bright gilet adds a pop of welcome colour to your ensemble.

Whilst imminently practical, the sleeveless jacket need never be boring. In fact, the look enjoyed a high-fashion moment on the runways this past winter. To achieve the relaxed, runway-ready waistcoat look, opt for a long knitted waistcoat or a gilet trimmed with faux fur over stretch jeans and heeled boots.

With a cosy gilet , you can be the first to brave the outdoor café tables and comfortably enjoy your spring walks a little longer. For those with a gilet in their wardrobe, the pleasures of the season come a bit earlier.

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