The sleeveless puffer jacket, quilted vest or padded gilet – whatever you call this useful jacket – it is something that most of us love to wear.
Over the last year the padded gilet has become a wardrobe staple for men and women of all ages. Whether you are looking for a handy top layer for taking you from the car to the supermarket, a warm jacket for walking the dog or hiking, or a fashionable addition to a smart but casual outfit around town, the sleeveless puffer is your new best friend.
I’m loving wearing mine this winter. It looks great over a thick sweater or under my winter coat. You can see my gilet in my 2024 Winter Capsule Wardrobe.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links so I usually get a small commission if you click and buy. Thanks for your support
The Land’s End gilet folds into its own pocket. Washable and not too puffy. Ideal for everyday wear through till Spring. The styling in the photo is really attractive. Simple fine layers of colors that tone really well together.
I’ve researched online for the most versatile jackets. Some great-looking jackets are aimed at a younger set. These tend to be cropped very short and have a very puffed look. Others are meant for sports enthusiasts – anyone from skateboarders to mountaineers. So I’ve discounted both these styles as I’m guessing most of us rarely scale cliffs these days.
But I also know most of us like to look ‘current’ so I’ve picked out retailers who show they understand this year’s look.
The Talbots plaid vest is slightly waisted giving it a smarter look. So you could easily wear this over smart pants to go into town for the day. It works well with a collared sweater that draws your eye up to the model’s face then on up to the same color of woolly hat. This gives a relaxed country look but with great style.
Sleeves can add a lot of bulk to an outfit whether they are on the outer layer or under a coat. And the sleeves on puffer jackets add even more than most. So going sleeveless is ideal. A down filling still supplies all the warmth you need. How often have you complained of cold arms? Not often I guess.
In winter add gloves and a woolly hat and possibly a scarf too. You won’t be cold and you’ll still be able to get through a door without turning sideways!
But today’s gilets are not just for cold weather. The puffer has joined the whole athleisure range as daily wear year round.
Chico does several excellent gilets this year and, at time of writing, this one was heavily discounted. It has an subtle print in black all over the jacket. This makes easy to dress up as well as wearing it casually. Several years ago the idea of wearing earrings with an outdoorsy jacket would have seemed strange. But as you can see, with a monotone outfit the gold hoops make this a very smart casual outfit.
If you buy a gilet now, expect to get lots and lots of wears right through to spring and even on into the cooler summer evenings if your climate is like Britain.
The White Company does beautifully styled clothing, often in white through beige. Recently they’ve been showing roomier tops with dropped shoulders. This larger gilet is very on trend. Despite having those big shoulders notice how the stylist has worked in very close tones and has the high neck sweater then the long front scarf over the long pants to make the model look taller and slimmer. It’s a world away from dragging on a puffy top in a nondescript color and mismatched sweater and pants.
Right now I’m finding my puffer vest looks best over a thick sweater with a raised neck. The higher neck elongates my upper body and the jacket nicely cuts off the sides of my hips. It’s just a question of planning the colors so that the jacket makes a good contrast with the sweater beneath.
I’ve also been enjoying wearing a couple of finer layers in the same color as my gilet then choosing pants that either continue the color or contrast. This tends to ‘big up’ my top so my hips and thighs look slimmer.
As Spring comes around I’ll likely look for a denim shirt and jeans as the base to my gilet outfit. Or a cotton shirt tucked into a belt with or without a shortish cardigan.
This Mango gilet has a younger look with a slightly puffier silhouette and a shorter length. It looks great here with white and very pale grey. This length would work just as well over a midi dress so I can see it being popular this Spring.
A trend this year is to wear all layers in a single color but in a range of tones. White through cream through beige can look good if your complexion has the color to stand out against this pale look. As I’m paler by the year now, I have to wait till I get a little sun before I feel relaxed in this palette.
So when choosing a sleeveless jacket, consider carefully how the color will work with your favorite clothes, especially tops, for winter then through into Spring. Even if you don’t make a capsule wardrobe each season, take a look through your closet before deciding on color.
Chico’s quilted gilet has a more structured silhouette and side ribbing. With the edging and gold button on the pockets here’s a warm jacket perfect for town. You won’t overheat while shopping but you’ll enjoy the quilting across your front and back. A great weekend top and would look even better with a patterned scarf at the neck.
A jacket that doesn’t look as if it’s planned to be part of your outfit makes you look as if you’ve just slung anything on to get out of the house fast. That isn’t the look we are going for! A jacket that complements an outfit through color and shape however, will make you forget you ever walked the dog in it over winter as you set out for coffee with friends on a brighter day.
The L.L.Bean puffer comes in good colors. It’s a bit longer than some other gilets and has a more sporty look. This will style up jeans. As a change from the high neck sweater try a white cotton shirt and pop the collar or even a simple brilliantly white crew neck tee shirt when the weather gets better.
I love that these jackets are usually washable though you do need to shake around the filling each time to ensure you are averagely ‘puffed’ all over. As you’ll wear and wear a puffer vest, being able to rub off the odd fleck of mud with a cloth and a dab of washing-up liquid is important.
As the seasons change these type of jackets often get heavily discounted (even though they are perfect for Spring!), so take a look at the retailer’s site and see what the current price is.
If you are interested in seeing the gilet I bought this year head over to my Winter Capsule Wardrobe 2023-4.
If you want to consider another style of jacket that is in vogue right now take a look at Collarless Jackets