How to wear a gilet

History of the gilet

The gilet has had a colourful history and can be traced back to the 15th century where it began its life in France. While the word gilet, derives from the Spanish ‘Jileco’ or ‘Chaleco’, it originates from the Turkish word ‘Yelek’. However, the simple translation of the word gilet, means cardigan in French.

French peasants wore a buttoned-down vest to keep their body warm which was called a Jerkin. This was made from leather, and it had 2 functions, firstly to keep the body warm and secondly to allow movement as the garment is sleeveless.

Over the centuries the gilet evolved. By the 16th Century, the jerkin, as it was then called had become popular with the aristocracy and even Royalty. King Henry VIII was even an avid wearer of the jerkin, which he often wore for hunting and other country pursuits. It was around this time that the jerkin, if not made from animal fur, became padded.

As with any style of fashion, things change, and a century later padded jerkins disappeared, and the fitted waistcoat took over, with courtesans, the military, and businessmen alike. The waistcoat is now an essential part of our wardrobe. By the 18th century the gilet was transformed again, by women who wore the gilet in a silk material over their bodice of their dresses. During the First World War the gilet was used as armour and by the late 20th Century, the gilet became heavily padded once again and adopted a new name; the bodywarmer.

What is the difference between a gilet and a bodywarmer?

Both garments are similar in shape and style, but they are different. A gilet is more lightweight in design and most is worn as a mid-layer and can be worn under a jacket. A body warmer is usually bulkier and are more commonly worn as outer layers as they are more insulating.

Health benefits of wearing a gilet

Perhaps a lesser-known fact is that research suggests a close-fitting gilet has real health benefits, as it can help promote efficient blood circulation, by generating heat at the core of the body and warming the vital organs such as the heart and lungs, while also helping warm one’s extremities.

The different types of gilets

These days there are a huge variety of gilets available. Types of modern-day gilet include: 

· Quilted or padded gilets

· Fleece gilets

· Technical, utility or sports gilets

· Game wax gilets

· Fur and Leather gilets 

 · Costume gilets 

 · Fashion gilets

What to look for in a gilet 

When we are choosing something new to wear there are lots of things to consider from the style, design, comfort, colour and fit. When you are considering buying a gilet its best to consider the following - 

· What look are you going for? Contemporary, casual or classic 

· What do you need the gilet for? 

· Do you need extra pockets in the gilet? 

· What material works best for you?  

· Which colour way suits your wardrobe? 

· How many layers are you planning on wearing under and over it

A gilet can give you that classic, traditional look to your outfit or it could add a modern twist depending on what you pair the outfit with. Make sure it is comfortable and snug and therefore It can be worn under a jacket.

Men’s gilet 

Whether you are on a country walk or heading on an adventure we sell two styles at Chums that will meet yours needs. Both our gilets are lightweight, have plenty of pockets and space and are extremely comfortable. 

Pegasus Lightweight Multi Pocket Travel Gilet 

This one is machine washable and will make the perfect fit to your wardrobe. Our gilets will keep you warm and are available in various colours.

Aldon Micromoss Padded Fleece Lined Gilet

Check out this one too, it also had pockets on the inside!  

Women’s gilet

Whether you wear a shirt, t-shirt, jumper or dress underneath your gilet, one thing is guaranteed is that it will gain you another layer of warmth. 


Regatta Fleece Zip Gilet

We sell this comfortable fleecy gilet by Regatta and the perfect layer addition to your outfit. By adding this garment of clothing into the mix you won’t be hemmed in and practical and season less, so you won’t be able to live without it!

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