A recurring theme on 31 Days of so far has been keeping warm. It’s nice to be warm when it's cold, but it’s also nice to find new ways of staying warm other than putting on a big coat every day. Vests are an incredible, and in my opinion underused, solution. I didn’t own a vest until I found a reversible down vest at a thrift store a few years ago. I was immediately in love with how functional vests are – they keep your core warm and allow a lot more freedom of movement than a coat.
Vests are also a way to grow your layering skills - layering is fun and vests give you so many more possibilities. Down vests can be worn over a jean jacket or sweater, and wool and quilted vests can be the top layer over a shirt and overshirt or a middle layer under a blazer or lighter winter coat. Lots of options here, and it’s a win-win when they all add up to you keeping warm.
1. Patagonia Bivy Down Vest
It’s hard to beat Patagonia for durable, stylish, technical clothing. A mountaineer friend once told me that Patagonia’s products are top of the line, and worth every penny, something that is apparent once you own one of their pieces. I bought a vest similar to this one last year and absolutely love it. It’s not too puffy or thick and repels the elements deceptively well. The fit is trim, and the design and colors are muted and streamlined enough that you could keep it casual with a sweatshirt or wear a tie under it – neither would look out of place. Even if it weren’t those things, it’d probably still be worth getting thanks to Patagonia’s unbeatable warranty.
2. Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest
Speaking of top of the line, another brand that fits that bill is Filson, who has been producing super tough clothing and bags for years and years. Their Mackinaw vest is a steal for what you’re getting – it’s got four pockets, is constructed from rough and tumble Mackinaw wool, and is designed to be functional and stylish. It comes in 10 different colors and patterns, and is a great entry point into the world of utility vests.
3. General Assembly Quilted Twill Vest
General Assembly makes understated clothes with a subtle twist. This twill vest is lined with chambray and made with a brown twill cotton fabric, giving it a less technical look than other similar vests and increasing its appeal. It’s hard to resist a nice caramel color on a piece of outerwear, and the quilting is a good touch.
4. Orvis Country Tweed Vest
If you’re in the market for a refined vest, look no further than this Orvis tweed number. The subtle honey-colored leather trim looks really nice with the texture of the tweed, and you could definitely dress this vest up with a tie. As with all Orvis products, you’ll likely want to size down, as they're cut generously.
5. Universal Works Nylon Gilet
I really wanted to find a gilet to include in this list because I really wanted to talk about what a gilet is. Technically a gilet is any sleeveless jacket or vest, but from my experience browsing online nowadays a gilet is most often a lightweight quilted vest, and therefore can be worn as an outer layer on milder days or as a midlayer when the temperatures drop.
This one by Universal Works is a great navy color and has shoulders short enough that you could layer it under a sport coat if you saw fit. You’d look wonderfully European if you did, and who wouldn’t want that?