Fetish is too strong a word. It’s more of a passion, or a devotion. Let’s just say I’m a gilet enthusiast. No one is getting harmed, it’s just me and my sleeveless kit on the privacy of my own bike.
What can I say?
I just love a good gilet.
It’s the piece of kit I wear, or carry, more than any other. It will happily take the chill off an early start, the edge off the wind, or the worst effects of a rain shower. It will then shake that off, roll up in your jersey pocket, and remain on hand for next time.
All of which means it must tick three crucial boxes:
It must be durable
Here in the UK, your gilet will be in and out of your pocket like a Dickensian pickpocket. Our famously changeable weather will make sure of it. If your gilet is flimsy, or cheaply constructed, all this handling will soon cause fraying around the edges. Your gilet is not a place to prioritise looks over substance.
It must be zip-able
Not all zips, unfortunately, are made equal. There’s a good chance you’ve found yourself on a bike, in the cold, and fumbling with claw like hands at an ill designed zipper.
We’ve already established that your gilet will be off and on like a rain affected Wimbledon semi-final; If the zip cannot be easily operated by a small child in the early stages of motor-skill mastery then find another one.
It’s got to look great
Providing, of course, it has already satisfied (1) and (2) above. It’s no good owning a jersey fit for a Milanese catwalk only to then cover it for 50% of every ride with the sartorial equivalent of a bin-bag. Your gilet can be simple and understated, but it must fit. It must be cut nicely. It should not flap around, develop a bulging hunch, or feature a colour palette unmatchable with the majority of your kit.
All of which brings me to the Rowsley Gilet from British brand Rivelo, which I’m pleased to confirm ticks these boxes with a flourish. Which is interesting, because first impressions are not of a flourish-y piece of kit.
It’s functional, practical, and toned-down smart.
In simple colours, with reflective piping and air-vents around the back, and little in the way of complication. Windproof, shower-proof, reflective, zip-able, hard-wearing, breathable, and undoubtedly roll-up-and-stick-in-the-pocket-able.
If you find yourself astride a Milan catwalk then pop it off and let your fancy jersey do its thing. It will not catch the eye of the paparazzi, no matter how bronze your skin and chiselled your cheekbones. But if you find yourself on the bike and in need of the sartorial equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife then it’s got you covered.