What is the Difference Between a Gilet and Body Warmer?

When it comes to layering up for outdoor activities or adding a stylish touch to your outfit, two popular options often come to mind: the gilet and the body warmer. While these garments might seem similar at first glance, they have distinct characteristics and uses. Let's dive into the differences between a gilet and a body warmer.


Definition of a Gilet

A gilet is a sleeveless jacket that provides warmth without the bulk of a full coat. It is typically lightweight, designed to keep the core warm while allowing free movement of the arms. Gilets are versatile and can be worn over shirts or under larger coats. You can shop premium quality, hand knitted gilets & waistcoats from Game Clothing UK.

Definition of a Body Warmer

A body warmer, also known as a quilted vest in some regions, is a sleeveless garment designed to offer substantial warmth. It usually features thicker insulation compared to a gilet and is favored for its practicality in colder conditions.

Importance of Understanding the Difference

Knowing the difference between a gilet and a body warmer can help you make better choices in terms of fashion, functionality, and comfort. Whether you're planning a winter hike or looking to add a layer to your autumn outfit, picking the right garment can make all the difference.

Historical Background

Origins of the Gilet

The gilet has its roots in French fashion, dating back to the 19th century. Originally, it was a form-fitting garment worn by men under their jackets. Over time, the gilet evolved into a more casual and versatile piece, embraced by both men and women.

Evolution of the Body Warmer

The body warmer, or quilted vest, became popular in the mid-20th century. It was initially designed for outdoor workers who needed extra warmth without the restriction of sleeves. Today, body warmers are used in various settings, from casual wear to outdoor sports.

Design and Style

Gilet Design Features

Material Choices

Gilets are made from a variety of materials, including down, synthetic fibers, and fleece. According to outdoor gear experts, down-filled gilets provide excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, making them ideal for cold weather activities (Patagonia, 2023).

Common Styles and Trends

Gilets come in various styles, from sporty to elegant. Popular trends include quilted designs, sleek lines, and sometimes even fur-lined options for added warmth and style.

Body Warmer Design Features

Material Choices

Body warmers are typically made from thicker, more robust materials such as heavy-duty polyester or nylon. According to market research by Columbia, the use of synthetic insulation in body warmers has grown by 15% annually since 2019 due to its durability and performance in wet conditions.

Common Styles and Trends

Body warmers often feature practical designs with multiple pockets and a more rugged appearance. They are usually seen in solid colors or plaid patterns, catering to a more outdoorsy aesthetic.

Functionality and Usage

Gilet Functionality

Seasonal Usage

Gilets are ideal for transitional seasons like spring and autumn. They provide enough warmth without overheating, making them perfect for layering.

Activities Suited for Gilets

Gilets are great for activities that require mobility and light warmth, such as golfing, walking, or commuting in mild weather.

Body Warmer Functionality

Seasonal Usage

Body warmers are better suited for colder seasons, providing extra insulation during winter months. They can be layered under a heavier jacket or worn over a sweater.

Activities Suited for Body Warmers

Body warmers are ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, or any work that involves prolonged exposure to cold weather.

Material and Insulation

Gilet Materials

Common Fabrics and Their Benefits

Gilets are often made from down, which is lightweight and offers excellent insulation. Synthetic options, like polyester, are also popular due to their durability and water-resistant properties.

Insulation Types

The insulation in gilets can vary from lightweight down to high-performance synthetic fibers designed to trap heat while remaining breathable.

Body Warmer Materials

Common Fabrics and Their Benefits

Body warmers are typically made from more durable materials like heavy-duty polyester or nylon, which provide better protection against the elements.

Insulation Types

Body warmers often feature thicker insulation, such as fleece lining or quilted layers, to provide maximum warmth in colder conditions.

Fashion and Trends

Gilets in Fashion

How to Style a Gilet

Gilets can be styled in various ways. For a casual look, pair a gilet with jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. For a more polished appearance, wear it over a dress shirt and under a blazer.

Popular Brands and Designers

Brands like Moncler, Patagonia, and The North Face offer stylish and functional gilets that cater to both fashion enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.

Body Warmers in Fashion

How to Style a Body Warmer

Body warmers can be worn over flannel shirts or under heavier jackets. They pair well with rugged boots and jeans for a classic outdoor look.

Popular Brands and Designers

Brands such as Columbia, Carhartt, and Barbour are known for their high-quality body warmers that combine functionality with style.

Practical Considerations

Choosing the Right Gilet

Factors to Consider

When choosing a gilet, consider the level of insulation you need, the fit, and the material. Lightweight options are great for layering, while thicker gilets are better for standalone use in cooler weather.

Pros and Cons


  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Easy to layer
  • Stylish


  • Less warm than body warmers
  • Limited protection against harsh weather

Choosing the Right Body Warmer

Factors to Consider

When selecting a body warmer, think about the insulation, durability, and additional features like pockets and hoods. Ensure it fits well over your base layers without restricting movement.

Pros and Cons


  • Excellent insulation
  • Durable and rugged
  • Practical for outdoor activities


  • Can be bulky
  • Less versatile for layering under fitted coats

Price Range and Market Availability

Gilet Pricing

Affordable vs. Luxury Options

Gilets range from affordable options at around £50 to luxury models that can exceed £300. Brands like Uniqlo offer budget-friendly choices, while Moncler caters to the high-end market.

Where to Buy

You can purchase gilets at outdoor gear stores, fashion boutiques, and online retailers like Amazon and Zappos.

Body Warmer Pricing

Affordable vs. Luxury Options

Body warmers also vary in price, with budget options starting at £30 and premium versions reaching up to £250. According to recent data from Outdoor Retailer Magazine, body warmers have seen a surge in popularity among urban millennials due to their functional design and aesthetic appeal.

Where to Buy

Body warmers are available at sporting goods stores, outdoor retailers, and online platforms such as REI and Backcountry.

In summary, while both gilets and body warmers are sleeveless garments designed to provide warmth, they serve different purposes and styles. Gilets are lightweight, versatile, and fashionable, making them perfect for layering and mild weather.