Gilets: perfect for spring and chiller summer days


May 12, 2023

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Gilets: perfect for spring and chiller summer days

Giving you the core warmth and wind protection of a jacket without the weight or restriction of a heavier winter coat, gilets are a fantastic option for spring. Not only are they practical, gilets are also super stylish and can complement both your outdoor kit and casual clothing.

Whether you’re in the market for a new gilet or are new to gilets and want to explore your options, the below guide details everything you need to know about gilets including what one is, how to wear a gilet, and more.

What is a gilet?

Simply put, a gilet is a sleeveless jacket, commonly worn as a mid-layer.

Typically padded, gilets often look like a sleeveless puffer jacket with quilting down the front and back. Hooded and non-hooded gilets are also available, as well as those made from fleece or Sherpa fabric.

Gilets are worn by men, women, and kids - the beauty of this versatile layer is that it gives you a bit of added freedom when it comes to movement. This is especially useful for those who enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, climbing, trekking with poles, and even road running.

Worn virtually year-round, gilets are available in super lightweight options for warmer months as well as heavy-duty options for winter. Their sleeveless design makes them great for layering both over and under your clothing and outdoor kit, making them a common favourite with lovers of the outdoors.

Tip: How to pronounce gilet

While there’s a good chance many of us have seen or maybe even worn a gilet before, they can also be referred to as a ‘sleeveless jacket’, a ‘padded vest’, or a ‘bodywarmer’, which can make shopping for them a bit tricky.

In the UK, most outdoor shops will refer to them as a ‘gilet’ - knowing this can help you narrow down your search a bit further to find the best option for a UK spring. As ‘Gilet’ is a word derived from the French language, it is most commonly pronounced: “jee-lay”.

How to wear a gilet

Depending on the season you’re in and your personal styling preferences, there are so many ways to style a gilet. With a focus on spring, below we’ve detailed some outfit ideas for those looking for some gilet styling inspiration throughout this sunny and rainy season.

Over a hoodie:

Gilets are a fantastic mid-layer that can keep your core warm, but on colder days, you’ll also want something to keep your arms protected from the chilly wind.

When wearing a hoodie under a gilet, it’s best to opt for a hoodless gilet (or remove the hood if possible). This will ensure you avoid any unnecessary bulk. A gilet layered over a hoodie makes for a stylish and practical choice in spring – often people will colour-match their hoodie to their gilet for a cohesive look (i.e. in all black). However, you can also opt for contrasting colours for a brighter outfit that’s functional and stylish.

With a hoodie, gilets are also worn with leggings or jeans - this look is common for walking, hiking, and days spent outdoors. So something comfortable yet stylish is a great idea when wearing a hoodie under a gilet.

The gilet-hoodie combination is one you’ll also see in plenty of casual settings like pubs too.

Over a base layer or long sleeve shirt:

As mentioned above, gilets are both stylish and practical. Many skiers, hikers, and runners wear lightweight gilets as a mid-layer when they are spending long days outdoors. When layering your gilet over a base layer, ensure the inner layer is quick wicking and breathable so you stay temperate and comfortable at all times.

As they are typically well-fitted and long-sleeved, base layers and long-sleeve tops look fantastic under a gilet, providing a smart yet outdoorsy look that is functional and flattering. It’s common (for women especially) to wear a base layer top with a pair of leggings with a hooded or non-hooded gilet over the top when exercising outdoors. Not only is this great for exercising, it can also work as a super comfortable outfit for day-to-day.

Over a t-shirt or button-up:

If the weather is warm enough for you to bare your arms, opting for a lighter-weight gilet is ideal. This could be a super lightweight padded gilet or a fleece gilet.

When styling your gilet over a t-shirt, you can explore any combination of casual clothing including jeans, cargo shorts, and walking trousers. A gilet over a t-shirt or polo with jeans and trainers is a classic that can be worn to virtually any casual occasion.

Gilets also look great over button-up shirts. Providing a slightly smarter feel that’s still practical, this can be a great option for working environments where it can be chilly, but where professional dress is expected.

Finding the right gilet for you

Ultimately, there are many gilets to choose from. Before buying your gilet, think about how you may wear it. Where will you go? What will you be doing

Depending on this, you can gauge how warm your gilet needs to be, whether it needs a hood, what insulation type and weight you might want, and so on.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be styling your own gilet this spring and summer in no time.

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