The last time I wanted a gilet I was still in primary school. Back then we called them bodywarmers, a name which, even to my naive 8 year-old brain, sounded a bit lame and ineffective. I begged my mum for one. Really, I begged and I never begged for anything. I just wasn’t that kid. Crucially, I didn’t have a particular style in mind and it was this oversight that brought my childish fixation to a bitterly disappointing end.
After weeks of pining, I was finally presented with a two-tone metallic polyester rectangle. It fit like a floatation device designed by Bootsy Collins. Proper Primark. Well silvery. Sheepishly slipping it on, my little pre-pubescent arms hung limply at my sides, resting on a balloon of manmade fibres as I conducted a perfunctory self-pitied twirl. A walking/spinning fire hazard. A berk.
My desperate smile twitching, I waited until I’d gone through the motions of trying the thing on before stowing it away in my pine wardrobe with its collage of Smash Hits stickers that I’d inherited from my sister, to sit in musty darkness for ever more with the other forgotten things I’d pestered my parents for; gym plimsolls, football boots (ha!). Alright, maybe I was ‘that’ kid. Sure, it seems ungrateful now but a fit like that could’ve brought down all kinds of playground grief on my head. I did what I had to do. It’s real out here on these streets (semi-rural Hertfordshire)
That’s about it for my attempt at misery lit, as my childhood was pretty much sheltered suburban fluff. Shouts to my mum. Those early fashion blunders were my formative years and probably the reason why I’m so twisted up about dressing good.
Anyway, gilets. I don’t rightly recall why I thought they were so cool back then and it’s that same sentiment that’s been ringing through my hopelessly corrupted 23 year-old brain in 2014. Perhaps it’s just the call of an emerging trend that I can’t ignore, when I’m not even that sold on the thing, but the hipster in me wants to do it first. I want to be the one that wears a formerly maligned piece of outerwear and helps it on its way out of a mire of bad image funk. That’s assuming I have any sort of #influence. Which I don’t. But I do my part, low key. Hearts and minds.
From that first dalliance in primary school days up until about 2 years ago, I’d scoffed at the gilet for, frankly, being one of the most unbearably preppy things one could wear. I’m aware of the irony of using the word ‘one’ in this context. It’d be easy to have a pop at the upper-middle-class for making all sleeveless jackets a no-go for the last 15 years, but I’m not going to lower myself to another dubious class rant. What I will do is tell you why the humble bodywarmer can be cool again.
Proper, Real Person Companies like The North Face and Patagonia Are Inexplicably Cool
North Face products reach across boundaries. From the shuffling, bewildered American tourists you tut at on the underground, to your veteran commuter to your Korean, Beats by Dre-wearing hypebeast. They’re a company that makes quality outerwear, and they’re respected for it by pretty much everyone. When the desirable collabs from Supreme and the like come out, the regular ol’ stock becomes cool by association. Function tends to take a backseat over form in fashion, so it can be a welcome relief when you can actually stay warm and dry and not worry about the label.
The Weather Is Stupid At The Moment
Without bothering with any research, I’m going to say that we’ve had two consecutive record-breaking months in terms of unseasonable warmth. It’s silly out there. Too mild for a coat, too wet to go without. It’s time to get creative with you approach to layering. Ultra-light down technology in some of these vests results in a lightweight, non-bulky structure that can be worn over – sometimes under – many of your day-to-day looks.
You can enjoy the feeling of carrying a sheep around your shoulders like some mythical highlander/WWE shepherd. Short of finding a wicked vintage flight jacket from like, World War II, you ain’t gonna experience that. Shearling collared gilets are the only type to have never looked wack. Ever.
This one form Brave Soul is on SALE for £13.99.
Uniqlo’s Are Going Cheap, So You Can Always Dip Your Toes
I get it, you’re not ready to commit to parting with too much catch to potentially look like a confused Toff. You may have seen Uniqlo is pushing their reassuringly Japanese down range right now. You can always count on those guys for quality and seriously affordable pricing. This particular down vest is £29.90 but they have quite an extensive range. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
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