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Which gilet tribe are you? As the sleeveless gilet becomes a fashion statement, here’s what yours says about you


For a long time, gilets have been the butt of sartorial jokes. Years of associations with horses, a particular male style we’ll call ‘basic DJ’ (giant puffer, hoodie, joggers) and the kind of shearling fan who worships at The White Company have landed the gilet with major PR problems.

But the tide has turned. Just as athleisure brought leggings out of the gym, so ‘extreme’ outdoor wear is now leading the zeitgeist. 

Witness: consciously dorky Gore-Tex trainers in hipster offices; fleeces for nights out inspired by Taylor Swift (see also Florence Pugh in fleece and heels at last month’s Paris couture week); and Dryrobes for nipping to Lidl in. 

Naturally, the body warmer, with its action-packed vibe, plays a starring role.

Unrelated, the gilet is having a moment in the spotlight, with two distinct types of waistcoat – one austere, one kitsch – freeing fashion’s arms for spring/summer 2024.

The one you choose to step out in will determine the tribe you belong to. Which will it be?

Insta (ie, fake) outdoorsy 

This young millennial buys his Patagonia and The North Face on Asos and is now the proud owner of an Arc’teryx vest.

He doesn’t call it a gilet, mind, because he doesn’t want to sound like a corporate idiot (he works for HelloFresh) and completes the look with Salomon trainers. He did hike once, on honeymoon. 

Accordingly, his profile pic is a silhouette of him mid jump on a Peruvian peak. #nowasteddays.

Genuine outdoorsy 

And now for the real deal – Dad in his ten-year-old Berghaus fleece, Millets puffer and Gore-Tex boots, miles from East London, unaware that his signature style is ‘a look’. 

His profile pic is a family selfie in the Lake District, taken after an argument about a Thermos. Unsurprisingly, Genuine Outdoorsy is currently researching heated body-warmers for his teens, because ‘getting out in the elements’ is everything.

Original Puffa Sloaney 

If you were a posh child of the 1980s you will have deep Freudian associations with this tribe. Perhaps Mummy had an original Puffa with the very, very thin stripes and the logo at your eye level? She probably still does – for the garden centre.

Or perhaps she has remained loyal to a quilted number in olive or navy. Well, guess what? That steadfast fashion sense has been rewarded, and she is now officially on trend. Rah for Ma!

Finance bro’ leisurely

The most ubiquitous tribe of all – finance bros, strutting in pointlessly thin Crew Clothing gilets, over shirts and under suits. 

In extreme cases the gilet will bear a company logo, as if the wearer were in school uniform. The corporate gilet has been much mocked for years now (see Succession, Industry and Insta feed midtownuniform), and rightly so.

We’re bitter that we, too, work in grey, air-conditioned offices – minus the City salary.

Actually fashiony

Those in this tribe love a fashion gilet – think very minimal, very soft and fuzzy; a nod to a fantasy life gathering eggs on a Kinfolk farm. The holy grail is Isabel Marant’s ecru vest (doesn’t ecru sound more chic than sheep?), with Plümo and Toast offering alternatives. 

Crucially, it must not fit. Instead, its wearers aim for airy tabard proportions, at least two sizes too big. This may be counterintuitive for a garment meant to be cosy, but who said fashion is logical? Or flattering?

Mumsy trend 

Your trendy mummy bought her gilet (basically a smaller, boxier, brown derivative of fashiony ) on the Boden website when she meant to get babygros. Suddenly, she is incapable of wearing anything else. 

The gilet just pulls everything together. It hides the top of her maternity jeans and the omnipresent yogurt down her front, and the fact that she never gets a chance to go shopping or wash the clothes she has. On some level she knows she resembles a teddy. A trendy one.

Waistcoat whimsy 

An offshoot of the fashion gilet, this tribe favours ‘dopamine’ brands – see Damson Madder and Sister Jane. Its bib of choice is quilted denim, fastened with a bow over a white tee.

These wearers insist on being called Mama and love dressing their children as if they are tiny painters or fisherman. Eventually, little Rudy or Ida will rebel and demand a lurid fleece from Mountain Warehouse.

Ironically, this might just carry more fashion kudos.



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