How To: Wear The Gilet

That lightweight jacket you desperately want to wear is perilously thin and flimsy, so you’ll almost certainly get soaked through if it rains and quite likely freeze to death too. The problem is, that cosy winter overcoat you probably should wear, feels way too hot and bulky.

Enter the sartorial lifesaver aptly known as a ‘body warmer’ or gilet. Woolly, fleecy, quilted or padded gilets, they are the essential turn-to outerwear piece to weather all manner of storms and keep you warm (just not too warm).

It’s the fabulously functional extra layer you can add on or peel away at whim; perfect for awkward in-between-season times when the weather doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going. Conveniently compact enough to roll up and pack into a bag, a gilet makes an ideal travelling companion too.

The problem is, such a versatile piece of clothing brings with it a multitude of options to dress it with. If the thought of deciding what to wear with your body warmer is filling you with dread, fear not, the fashion gurus at Joules have all the answers.

What to Wear Under a Gilet

Pair your gilet with a jumper, shirt, sweatshirt or long-sleeved top all depending on the situation that arises. Because of its versatility, you can wear almost anything under a gilet.

If you’re wondering what to wear with a gilet for casual and formal styles, you’ve come to the right place.

For Men: Casual Gilet Styling

For casual wear for men, pair a stylish padded gilet with a classic crew neck jumper and for smart casual, layer your gilet with a bold checked shirt. The crew neck jumper will provide you with enough warmth to stand the brisk autumnal and winter air and has enough flexibility to deal with even the more arduous playfights or hikes. The bold checked shirt has exciting and colourful prints that will work perfectly with the solid colour of a body warmer and are ideal for a semi-formal occasion like a christening or a birthday party with friends.

Throw a pair of Chelsea boots into the mix and you’ve got an outfit that’s sure to not only keep you nice and snug, but will be the envy of everyone down at the local pub.

For Men: Formal Gilet Styling

Gilet’s can be coupled with your workwear quite easily. Choose the Oxford shirt or a more contemporary slim-fit shirt and a gilet will keep you warm on the way to work without reducing the formality of your outfit.

Formal gilet styling - men

For Women: Casual Gilet Styling

For casual gilet styling for women, pair your gilet with a striped sweatshirt.  A fur-trimmed gilet with a hood is perfect for not only keeping you warm and cosy, but for adding a touch of luxury to the relatively simple design of a body warmer.

If you’re planning on a walk through the countryside with family, then your gilet will look fabulous alongside that British classic: the wellington boot.

For Women: Formal Gilet Styling

For more formal gilet styling, try pairing with a classic round-neck jumper in a complementary tone over a crisp cotton shirt. A leather Chelsea Boot will complement the look perfectly, taking a more fashion-forward adaptation of traditional country style.

Children’s Gilets

Children’s gilets are perfect to be worn with jeans and a simple t-shirt or a jumper if you’re planning on a brisk walk, they’re both stylish and hardwearing.

Gilet’s for the little ones are adorable. Our boy’s gilets and girl’s gilets are ideal for keeping your little one warm and cosy as we press on into the colder months.

How Should a Gilet Fit

A gilet should ideally fit a gentleman in a similar manner to the waistcoat. The arm holes should be high, and the garment should fit snugly around the body to ensure it can sit nicely underneath a winter jacket. For ladies’ gilets, the same is true. Ensure the fit is comfortable and snug but with enough room to layer correctly.

Overall, the fit is down to personal preference, but whether you wish to wear a sweater or a t-shirt underneath your gilet, there should be enough room to guarantee either would fit without restriction.

How to Care for a Gilet

Gilets can be machine washed with a normal detergent to ensure any unsightly marks are removed from the material. It’s always best to consult the label on the inside of your garment before washing for the first time however.

This is because different materials will need different levels of care and since body warmers can be crafted in an array of fabrics, this is the only way to confidently know what washing cycle and temperature is suitable.

How to Dry a Gilet

Aside from line drying, Joules gilets can be put in the tumble dryer on a low heat. If you are line drying, just make sure you double check that the garment has fully dried before putting it back in your wardrobe. The last thing you’ll want is any nasty damp smells emanating from your clothes.

The History of the Gilet

A little fashion history for good measure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the origin of the gilet can be traced back to 15th century France and the word ‘jerkin’. These were pieces of clothing that were often favoured by European peasants during this period.

When the 16th century kicked in, the jerkin was padded by the aristocracy, creating a more modern taken on the gilet that we all know and love today. Believe it or not, Henry VIII was a huge fan of the padded jerkin.

Almost a century later, the jerkin all but disappeared – only worn by land-workers to keep warm during their busy working days. The aristocracy in the meantime moved onto to the fitted waistcoat which during this period of history was an essential part of any gentleman’s fashion routine.

How to pronounce gilet

We’ll end with a little trivia. It’s a confusing one, pronouncing gilet. Is it ‘gill-et’ or should it be ‘jee-lay’. Well wonder no more, the latter is the correct way of pronouncing our padded friends. Now you can use your newfound knowledge to impress your friends and family!

Enjoy Layering Your Gilet

Because it’s sleeveless, a gilet layers perfectly without restricting movement. Add a gilet to the mix and you’ll get the warmth where it counts, without feeling hemmed in. So free your arms (and your spirit) and add a gilet to your wardrobe today. It’s a seasonless essential you won’t know how you lived without.


  • David Melvin

    11.12.2020 at 08:23 Reply

    Wow, that’s a great and very well article written about gilet wear Keep it up!

  • S Stevens

    21.01.2021 at 09:50 Reply

    Very helpful, given me some great ideas thank you ????

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