With wax and quilted jackets becoming hugely popular within menswear this season, and mixed in alongside key fabrics such as tweed and cord, it is safe to say that the farm house heritage trend is going to be seeing us right through the autumn/winter seasons. However, as the heritage and great outdoors type trends develop a strangle hold on our wardrobes and outfits for the foreseeable future, there is a key item which has previously been missing from the pages of FashionBeans. An item which has polarised the opinion of many men over the years but could take your layering and looks to the next level.

Let me introduce to you all, the gilet. Forget it’s previous misconceptions; forget it’s cousins the body warmer and tank top. It’s the easier option to throwing on an overcoat, a way to take your winter layering to the the next level, and the perfect solution to those casual days when the weather simply cannot make up it’s mind.

Gilets have come a long way in the fashion world and are bigger and certainly better than ever before. We all remember those awful body warmers from our early childhood years that we were forced to wear by our parents – making us look like miniature Michelin men. Too much padding, too thick, and were impossible to move in.

Much like shearling lined jackets and the humble duffle coat, gilets are beginning to take the reins of the autumn/winter trends for 2011 and this season are coming into their own. Gone are the days of those over padded creations; today’s gilets are back in bold block colours and filled with luxurious down, feathers or natural fibre’s to perform the job they were originally meant to do.

The Appeal

The appeal is straightforward; it ticks every box in what’s required from a winter warmer; a sleeveless layer that keeps your core warm while allowing complete freedom and movement of the arms.

The gilet offers practicality and now versatility to the wearer, coming in more colours than ever from citrus oranges to autumnal leafy greens and browns. There are also now gilets with a touch of quilting, cord or herringbone for that traditional rugged country chic. It’s a key item that can finish off a look or trend effortlessly, and is so easy to integrate into your current ‘go-to’ looks in order to breathe life into an outfit. Just throw it on over the top and away you go – you don’t have to be a farmer, nor do you need to be a preppy studie.

Today I will be breaking down just how much variety there is when it comes to purchasing a gilet this season. Next week we will be looking in detail at how to style the gilet with our dedicated look book, so for now pin point the exact style that would work within your current wardrobe and invest early.

Men’s Gilet Look Book

To whet your appetite, here are some current look book images from a variety of high street and designer brand look books. Notice the versatility the gilet offers when creating multiple looks and adapting to multiple styles.

Men's Gilet Look Book

Styles & Types

So, with the gilet more popular than ever within the world of men’s fashion, the choice and options available are plentiful. Even if you have never considered a gilet before, you are sure to find a style that suits your current wardrobe and personal style. As mentioned above, the days of thick padded gilets have gone, with you now having the option to pick from trend led, fashion forward and slim line cuts and styles from both high fashion and high street designers. In order to help select the perfect style for you, I have loosely categorised the types available to you today.

Timeless/Future Proof Styles

As a reader of FashionBeans, I assume that many of you will be looking to invest in a gilet style that is timeless and will provide longevity – not something you will just wear this season, but for many autumn/winters to come. A timeless gilet style will also adapt well to future fashion trends, whilst hopefully allowing you to utilise it successfully during the cold and/or rainy days we see throughout spring/summer as well.

In this case you should be looking for a gilet in neutral tones such as black, navy, brown or grey (or a mix of). These will coordinate with any other pieces you currently own, as well as adapting to any new additions you should make in the future. Not only that, a neutral coloured gilet will anchor your outfit and allow you to experiment with your complimentary pieces – incorporating trend colours, patterns and prints easily.

In terms of fit and style, that is purely down to personal preference. Some may prefer the slimline nature of a non-padded gilet, whilst others may look for a thick practical version filled heavily with down.

Tip: Don’t be afraid of ‘trend’ materials or detailing. Fabrics such as tweed, corduroy and even quilting are here for the long haul now and as long as you stick to neutral colours, will last you many seasons.

  • Black Gilet With Contrast Cord Yoke
  • Barbour Down Explorer Gilet
  • Minimum Triton Gilet
  • Charcoal Contrast Wool Gilet
  • Belstaff Navy Coated Buzzard Padded Gilet
  • SHADES OF GREY BY MICAH COHEN Puffa 504 Tweed Gilet
  • HUMOR Maku 8711-928 Navy Gilet
  • dolce & gabbana Reversible gilet
  • luke 1977 Mens Elma Khaki Green Gilet Jacket
Trend Led

Of course, with the fashion industry continuously evolving, it means there are now many new gilet styles that have been adapted for the current market and trends that are popular this year. This can include designs being re-worked to hit specific trends such as heritage, quilting or tartan, or simply just given a new twist via bold, vivid colour ways or trend patterns such as Fair Isle.

Either way, these types of gilets can be paired with neutral surrounding pieces in order to create a real statement, or used to add some flair, personality and creative layering to your existing looks by simply throwing them on over the top.

Other interesting takes on the gilet this year come from the choice of materials used or detailing. Sleeveless jackets are available in both denim and leather, whilst there are also versions featuring duffle fastenings and shearling or faux fur lined hoods – both being major trend textures for 2011.

  • Khaki Quilted Gilet
  • Red Jersey Quilted Gilet
  • Marshall Artist Tailored Gillet
  • Lavenham Grey Plaid Tweed Mickfield Quilt Gilet
  • Lavenham Navy And Check Reversible Mickfield Gilet
  • General Idea Men's Down Toggle Gilet
  • Burberry Brit Down Filled Gilet
  • Nigel Cabourn x Eddie Bauer Canadian Vest Orange Check
  • Pendleton Cody Vest Black Mini Chief Joseph
  • Mid Wash Denim Gilet
  • karl donoghue Aviator vintage gilet
  • Vicious Sleeveless Biker
Thin/Slimline Varieties

With menswear moving towards a much slimmer and refined silhouette, it is not surprising that this year gilets have also been given a sharper cut and overall slimline appearance. If you are looking for gilets that look great layered over shirts, polos or more refined pieces such as roll necks and fine gauge knitwear, then these are probably the choice for you.

The thinner gilets often lack the practicality of a true padded version, just because they are not filled with as much insulation as their thicker counterparts. However, the versatility of a slim cut allows you to layer items over the top as well as underneath, without creating too much extra bulk on your frame.

Try experimenting with a thin quilt gilet layered over a sharp shirt and underneath an on trend tweed blazer in order to create an unorthodox and refined take on the heritage trend that is rife right now.

  • River Island Gilet
  • Washed black hooded gilet
  • Oliver Spencer Gilet Green Quilt
  • Barbour Padded lightweight vest
  • Barbour Bosun Quilt Gilet, Charcoal
Thick/Padded Versions

Finally we move on to the traditional gilet. These are very practical, in that they are thick and padded in order to provide warmth and comfort throughout the colder seasons. They do add bulk to your frame naturally, so if you are particularly wide or carrying some weight, they are probably not the best option for you.

However, if they do work for your body type and personal style they can be thrown on effortlessly over the top of shirts, polos, tees, chunky knits, denim jackets, blazers etc. etc. Literally anything you can think of can be layered underneath, with your gilet being the perfect finishing touch – either anchoring/neutralising bold colours within your outfit, or providing a true focal point for the entire look.

  • Ralph Lauren Black Label Padded Gilet Vest
  • Stone Island Japanese Nylon Gilet Royal
  • Fred Perry Blue Down Gilet
  • Crew Clothing Ridley Down Gilet, Bordeaux
  • Hugo Boss Puffa gilet
  • Junya Watanabe Padded Wool-Lined Gilet

Hopefully I have managed to open some eyes and enlightened you of the world of sleeveless attire. Let me know what you think in the comments below:

  • Are you a convert?
  • Were you one of the trend setters and purchased a gilet last year?
  • What is your favourite style of gilet and/or material used?
  • Will you be purchasing a gilet for this autumn/winter?
  • How do you like to wear your gilet?