The Gilet: A Quintessential Part of Every Stylish Man’s Wardrobe


From sportswear to smart-casual apparel, the versatile gilet has the modern man covered. From padded to paired down, this item of clothing provides that extra piece of layering that is the ultimate in comfort, practicality and style. Whatever the occasion, or season you can maximise your look with a gilet.

A Brief History

From humble beginnings in the 15th century the gilet, pronounced ‘jee-lay’ has evolved over the centuries to where it is today. Originally a French word for cardigan derived from the Turkish ‘yelek’, meaning waistcoat, the item of clothing referred to as a jerkin was a garment favoured by peasants and usually made from leather. Its two main functions were to keep the wearer warm and simultaneously allow freedom of movement.

In the 16th century, the aristocracy took over and padded the jerkin. But a century later this item of clothing made way for the classier and better fitting waistcoat.

By the 1900s the gilet had transitioned to its modern form and was favoured by the landed gentry and estate workers for keeping warm while hunting, fishing and shooting.

Get the Look

As a transitional item of clothing, the gilet comes in different fabrics and designs and tailored to your taste and preferences.

A well-made and unpretentious men’s wool gilet that exudes a timeless style is ideal for those colder months when the need for layering to keep warm is essential. Look to a classic wool gilet made from premium 100 per cent merino wool. It’s about an effortless style that combines both form and function.

Looking for something that offers comfort and is waterproof? Then a waxed cotton gilet is the perfect fit for all those outdoor activities such as hiking that require being out in the elements. Practical and hardwearing these are the staples of many a wardrobe giving years of wear.

For those occasions that require a touch of refinement a tweed wool gilet is a must. Rugged and yet refined, soft to the touch and yet extremely durable, it is truly a layer for all seasons and occasions.

And as Winter gives way to summer look no further than a gilet in crisp, luxurious linen which is the perfect addition to any summer wardrobe.

Gilet or Bodywarmer

For the most part, a gilet and a body warmer relate to the same thing, which is keeping your torso warm while allowing free movement of your arms.

But there is a slight difference between the two. A gilet affords a more streamline fit as opposed to a bodywarmer which comes in the form of a puffa or padded style.

What to Look for When Buying A Gilet

Before you buy a gilet, look to your style and fashion needs. Are you looking for a piece in aesthetically pleasing materials such as wool or tweed for a more textured fit or more techno feel such as silky nylon? Whatever material you opt to go with, it must be pleasing to the eye.

Opt for neutral hues of black, grey, navy or forest green. Look for a style that offers a slim fit and focuses on the cut without being too puffy.

Be Creative with Your Fashion Combinations

Play around with combinations, fabrics and collars on the gilet itself and let it bring together all the elements of your style no matter the season. The only way you will know if a gilet is for you is to try one on for size.

Simone Ribeiro
Hi! I'm Simone, a citizen of Britain, where I live for over a decade, and of Brazil, where I was born. Midlands Traveller is where I combine my passion for travelling, business and an Eco-friendly lifestyle.

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