5.37.6 How to Wear a Gilet | How to Style a Gilet | Joules Journal Click here to use our accessible website
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Hard to say but easy to wear (trust us, we’ll show you), the gilet is a versatile style staple we believe everybody should have in their wardrobe. But we understand that it’s easy to be baffled by the gilet's unusual construction… A padded vest with no sleeves? Surely your arms will be too cold and your body too warm, right? In fact, it’s far to the contrary. Let us take you on a journey to discover why the humble gilet is actually one of the smartest, and most stylish, clothing inventions ever made…


The History of the Gilet

The story of the gilet begins in 15th century France, where field workers created a garment that kept their bodies warm but allowed their arms to move freely while tilling the land for crops. Usually made from leather, it was a purely practical adaptation of a classic jacket.

It wasn’t long before the rest of society caught wind of the practicality of the gilet, and the sleeveless style could be seen being worn by some of the highest members of the aristocracy. Even Henry VIII called himself a fan. He preferred a well-padded style, as you’ll often see him sporting in many of his famous portraits.

Since then, the gilet has become a seasoned favourite all over the world, from the classic country gentleman to the fashion-forward femme fatale. Girls’ gilet & boys’ gilet styles have also been introduced, keeping little ones cosy in style.

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What Is A Gilet?

Quite simply, a gilet is a sleeveless jacket. Not to be confused with a waistcoat, which is usually of a thinner, tailored material that fastens with buttons, a gilet is typically made from a weather-resistant material and fastens with a zip. 

What is the Difference Between a Gilet and a Body Warmer?

You might have heard these two terms interchangeably, and nobody is going to berate you if you get the two confused (unless they’re feeling particularly fastidious). The main difference between a gilet and a body warmer comes down to its weight. Gilets tend to be more lightweight and worn as a fashionable mid-layer, whereas body warmers are heavily padded and worn as a practical outer layer for outdoor pursuits



How to Style a Women’s Gilet

Wondering how to wear a women’s gilet? Just stick your arms through the holes, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that…

Let’s start with a base layer. A lightweight long-sleeve top or sweatshirt is perfect for fairer days, paired with a pair of simple chinos. For this look, choose a lightly padded gilet with a pop of colour and print to really stand out against your outfit.

For chilly dog walks and country strolls where an extra layer of warmth is needed, opt for a knitted jumper as your base layer, and add a showerproof quilted gilet to protect you from the elements. A pair of ankle wellies in a complementary colour will finish the look off nicely.


For women’s gilets, they should ideally fit in a similar manner to a waistcoat. The arm holes should be high, and should fit snugly around the body so the gilet can be worn comfortably underneath a coat, if you’d like even more warmth.

How to Style a Men’s Gilet

On breezy days when you need an extra layer without compromising on style, opt for a men’s fleece gilet over a polo shirt or a rugby shirt, depending on whether you prefer long or short sleeves. Finish with a pair of classic chinos and you’re good to go.

If the weather has taken a turn for the worse, swap your base layer for a cosy quarter-zip jumper and a quilted gilet for superior warmth.


How to Wear a Long Gilet

Long gilets are perfect for when you need a little extra coverage from light rain and wind, especially when they have added features like Borg fleece lining or a detachable hood. Style yours with a lightweight jumper to balance out the proportions of the longline style, and pop on a pair of wellies for good measure. Stylish scarves knotted and tucked neatly into the neck of your gilet or hair to add another element of flair.

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