With autumn starting in a burst of unseasonable warmth, it’s hard to know what to wear when leaving the house for the day – do you dress warmly and risk sweltering, or hope for warmer weather and end up shivering?
And even when the weather embraces it’s true autumnal nature and takes on a bit of a chill, what if you don’t want to lose your shape under mountains of woolly jumpers and fleeces?
The answer to both these conundrums, possibly given away in the title of this article, might just be waistcoats – or their close cousin, gilets.
Here are just a few reasons why you might find investing in a waistcoat the best thing you’ve done this autumn…
Quirk your wardrobe
If you’ve been feeling that your wardrobe could do with a bit of a pick-me-up in time for autumn, a waistcoat might just fit the bill. Throwing one on over a shirt will dress up the plainest of outfits – a white shirt and jeans suddenly takes on a whole new vibe when teamed with a waistcoat.
Caroline Barstow, head buyer for womenswear at Joe Browns, said: “Autumn’s my favourite time of year for fashion. I love the looks you can achieve by layering up different fabrics and textures and one of the best ways to do this is with a gorgeous statement waistcoat.
“They’re so versatile, you can easily style them for a smart or casual look. They’re great for adding an extra layer of warmth without being too bulky, as well as making a fun yet sophisticated impact to your outfit.
Try: Joe Browns One Of A Kind Waistcoat, £44.95 (pictured above)
Blue and yellow check featuring unusual chunky buttons and a ribbon lace-up back, this is perfect for giving your outfit just the right amount of edge, and will make sure you garner compliments everywhere you wear it.
Go with the flow
If you like the idea of covering up your waist with flowing material that helpfully conceals any lumps and bumps you’d rather not have on show, you might also like a waterfall-style drape gilet.
The loose design will prevent you feeling too confined in hot weather, or if the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can wrap the folds of material around you to keep warm.
Usually given a generous amount of material, these often hang low, so if you’re not too confident about your bottom half either, one of these will fit the bill.
Try: Oasis Drape Knit Gilet, £40
The flowing fabric will keep you warm and go over a multitude of tops underneath – though might not work so well under a jacket, so possibly not the best choice for layering up to head to the great outdoors.
Colourful autumn coats
Nip in the waist
Alternatively, if you’re proud of your slim waist and resent having to hide it under baggy layers, then you’ll love the way a waistcoat can nip in at the sides, effectively drawing attention to your waist and giving you a bit of an hourglass figure.
Try: Joe Browns Caroline’s Favourite Waistcoat, £44.95 (pictured above)
The understated grey of this waistcoat is offset by the five differently checked buttons down the front; placed close together, you won’t end up with any gaping – perfect for drawing tightly around the waist.
When, inevitably, the weather turns colder, that’s when the snug gilet really comes into its own.
Like waistcoats, these are sleeveless, so you have the best of both worlds – the warmth of a jacket, but your arms are left free and unfettered to potter round the house.
Also known as bodywarmers (and for good reason), these are traditionally used under a jacket for an extra layer of heat when venturing outside, but there’s no reason why you can’t wear one on its own.
Try: Mint Velvet Faux Fur Biker Gilet £109, from John Lewis (pictured above)
With a faux fur collar for extra cosiness, this has an asymmetric zip for added interest and a soft lining to keep the cold at bay. It’ll look good under a coat when you go outside too.