Best gilets for women that are both stylish and practical

We've rounded up the best gilets for women that will make this functional piece of clothing a new wardrobe staple

models wearing the best gilets for women
(Image credit: Future)

There are many options when it comes to the best gilets for women—different lengths, styles, and color options. A great gilet—also known as a bodywarmer or vest—will be an item you reach for time and time again.

Gilets are a fabulous, functional layer that you can add to any outfit. Perfect for cooler days, in-between seasons, or for when the weather simply can’t make its mind up. A well-insulated gilet can be an alternative to a bulky winter coat. The range of different styles means you can easily learn how to style a gilet to make it work for day or evening. Here are 12 of the best gilets for women that would make a great addition to any capsule wardrobe

BEST GILETS FOR WOMEN AS CHOSEN BY OUR FASHION TEAM 

UNIQLO ULTRA LIGHT DOWN COMPACT VEST

(Image credit: Uniqlo)

1. UNIQLO ULTRA LIGHT DOWN COMPACT VEST

Best lightweight gilet

Specifications

RRP: $39.90 / £39.90
Sizes: XXS-3XL

Reasons to buy

+
 Available in six colors 
+
 Ultra lightweight 

The clever two-way design of this piece from Uniqlo means it can be worn either as a round neck or a v-neck. Incredibly lightweight, this style can be rolled up into a storage pouch and kept in your handbag without taking up too much space. 


ZARA SEAMLESS KHAKI PUFFER VEST

(Image credit: Zara)

2. ZARA SEAMLESS PUFFER VEST

Best as a replacement to your everyday coat

Specifications

RRP: $69.90 / £49.99
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled fabrics
+
Drawstring hood 

Offering wind and water protection this longer-length gilet comes in four colorways, khaki, mink, ecru and black. It has two front zip pockets, perfect for keeping smaller items safe when out and about, and the handy hood is ideal if you get caught in the rain.


GAP 100% Recycled Nylon Relaxed Lightweight Puffer Vest in white

(Image credit: Gap)

3. GAP 100% Recycled Nylon Relaxed Lightweight Puffer Vest

Best for teaming with your sportswear

Specifications

RRP: $69.95 / £59.95
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
 Made with 100% recycled nylon 
+
 Front zipper pockets 

Tap into the sports luxe trend with this stylish white gilet, ideal for pairing with casual trousers, your best leggings, or sweatpants. There is enough room for keys and payment cards in secure, zip fastened pockets, so if you're popping to the shops or out running errands you can leave your bag at home. 


H&M CONSCIOUS COLLECTION BLACK QUILTED VEST

(Image credit: H&M)

4. H&M CONSCIOUS COLLECTION QUILTED VEST

Best for curvy figures

Specifications

RRP: $59.99 / £39.99
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Tie belt to pull in and highlight your waist 
+
Longer length

This black quilted number gives you high-end style for a fraction of the price. With a longline silhouette, this gilet is the outerwear piece to add to your closet this season. Lightly padded, with an on-trend quilted design, it sits just below the knee and is just right if you like your jackets and coats to cover your bum and thighs. Team this gilet with your best jeans and a fine roll-neck knit.


J.Crew Quilted liner vest with PrimaLoft

(Image credit: J.Crew)

5. J.CREW QUILTED LINER VEST WITH PRIMALOFT

Best for wearing under jackets

Specifications

RRP: $138 / £154
Sizes: XXS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Available in 3 colors 
+
Sustainable credentials

This lightweight gilet is made with recycled nylon and has a more relaxed fit than previous designs from the brand. It's filled with PrimaLoft—a down-alternative that keeps you warm and also keeps plastic bottles out of oceans and landfills.


GANNI BELTED QUILTED RIPSTOP VEST

(Image credit: Net-a-porter)

6. GANNI BELTED QUILTED RIPSTOP VEST

Best for elevating a simple outfit

Specifications

RRP: $375 / £255
Sizes: US: 0-14 / UK :8-18

Reasons to buy

+
Made from ripstop woven from 100% recycled fibers
+
Built-in belt to cinch in your waist

Take style inspiration from the Duchess of Cambridge and look at Ganni, one of the top sustainable clothing brands. Kate recently wore a khaki version of the quilted Ganni gilet on a visit to Glasgow, visiting as part of COP26, the United Nations climate change summit. Fitting true to size, you can style this gilet with some skinny jeans and a pair of trainers for a relaxed weekend outfit.


ZARA ​​WATER REPELLENT REVERSIBLE PADDED VEST

(Image credit: Zara)

7. ZARA ​​WATER REPELLENT REVERSIBLE PADDED VEST

Best for adding a pop of color

Specifications

RRP: $89.90 / £59.99
Sizes: XS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Reversible
+
Water repellent

Get two looks in one with this reversible, water-repellent, padded gilet. Wear the bright pink side with a pair of dark indigo jeans and a Breton stripe tee or keep it neutral by opting for camel and just a hint of color from the bright pink hood. 


PATAGONIA BIVY HOODED VEST IN NAVY

(Image credit: Patagonia)

8. PATAGONIA BIVY HOODED VEST

Best for outdoor adventures

Specifications

RRP : $179 / £180
Sizes: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent customer reviews
+
1% of sales will go to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment

The iconic Bivy Hooded Vest by Patagonia has been redesigned to incorporate 100% recycled materials both inside and out. We love the Patagonia brand messaging—when you invest in Patagonia pieces, you get full transparency about where fabrics are sourced from, how things are made and the impact their production has on the environment. Available in four different color combinations, you are sure to find a shade to suit. 


TORY SPORT REVERSIBLE QUILTED VEST

(Image credit: Net-a-porter)

9. TORY SPORT REVERSIBLE QUILTED VEST

Best for a retro style

Specifications

RRP: $298 / £285
Sizes: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
2-in-1 style
+
Co-ordinating products available

This loose-fit gilet is reversible: with beige on one side and a pop of green on the other you can change up the color palette depending on your outfit. Use it to style-up your favorite loungewear looks and give them a spring-ready twist. 


Mango quilted zipper gilet

(Image credit: Mango)

10. MANGO QUILTED ZIPPER GILET

Best for everyday

Specifications

RRP: $79.99 / £49.99
Sizes: XXS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Classic style that won't date
+
Available in 3 colors

This water-repellent, classic style gilet is a simple no-frills design that can be worn for years to come. As part of the Committed collection at Mango, the warm filling is made from 100% recycled polyester. Take style inspiration from the model above and team with your favorite Breton top and jeans for perfect weekend attire.


Recycled Thermowarmth Padded Gilet in pink

(Image credit: M&S)

11. M&S RECYCLED THERMOWARMTH PADDED GILET

Best for keeping cosy

Specifications

RRP : $77.50 / £45
Sizes: US: 2-20 / UK: 6-24

Reasons to buy

+
Detachable hood
+
Water repellent 

Inject some color into your wardrobe and add a stylish extra layer to keep out the cold with this longer-length gilet in dusty pink. Featuring a detachable hood, two pockets, and a zip and popper fastening, it's both stylish and practical. It's also available in off-white for a more neutral look. 


FatFace Heritage Gilet in navy

(Image credit: FatFace)

12. FATFACE NAVY HERITAGE GILET

The best customer reviews

Specifications

RRP : $106 / £65
Sizes : US: 2-20 / UK: 6-24

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent customer reviews
+
Detachable faux fur hood

The detachable faux fur hood makes this gilet perfect for wearing all year round and the classic color will blend into your existing wardrobe. A staggering 99% of customers say they would recommend this gilet to a friend, that's pretty high praise.


 SHOULD A GILET BE TIGHT? 

When it comes to gilets you want a snug fit, not a tight fit. Think about wearing it as a layering piece all year. 

"Gilets are supposed to be insulating, so it needs to fit your body without letting drafts through. Consider how chunky your clothes will be underneath or what season you will get the most wear out of it. If it's for the depths of winter, then you might want to size up and think about extra warmth over coats. If you're looking to purchase as a transitional piece for spring or autumn, then it's worth keeping to your usual size. Also, consider the length. Longer gilets will need to cover hips which are generally the wider part of your bottom half while shorter styles are more streamlined" says Style Editor Joely Chilcott.

IS A GILET THE SAME AS A BODY WARMER?

Essentially, yes. A gilet can also be referred to as a body warmer or in the United States, a gilet is also called a vest. Traditionally, a body warmer was intended to be primarily an outer garment—thick, padded and offering warmth in addition to or instead of a coat. While a gilet was intended generally as a lighter-weight garment usually worn under a jacket as a second or middle layer. 

As styles and trends have evolved there is now not much difference between a vest, bodywarmer and gilet and the terms are relatively interchangeable.

WHICH ARE THE WARMEST GILETS?

By adding a gilet, you will naturally add warmth to your outfit, as you will be gaining an extra layer around your torso. But if you're looking for the best gilets for warmth and not just style, then opt for gilets with insulated padding such as down or an eco-friendly alternative, as these will provide the most warmth.

You also need to consider what you will wear your gilet with. If you plan to wear your gilet instead of a coat, you might want to choose a heavier or more padded style. If you plan to wear it under a coat, then consider something finer or more streamlined.

Becky Joiner-O'Riordan is a Senior Fashion Stylist & Writer. With 10 years experience in the fashion industry, she currently works across woman&home, womanandhome.com, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly, Chat, goodto.com, and has previously worked on Harper's Bazaar, Notion and Now Magazine. 


After graduating from both the University of the Creative Arts and The Fashion Retail Academy with first-class honours she dipped her toes into the world of television styling working on This Old Thing, hosted by Dawn O’Porter and Channel 4’s live tv show series Gok Live: Stripping for Summer.