Our reviewer found the this stylish, comfortable gilet from Sporting Hares stands up well to a variety of weather conditions, and looks great to boot
Generally, people fall into two camps when it comes to gilets: those who swear by them, and those who don’t see the point in them.
I always used to be the former, but over the years I’d rather lost my faith in gilets, after a few disappointing experiences. The Windermere, however, is a gilet I’m confident will be appreciated even by those who claim not to like them.
Firstly, it looks incredibly smart, especially in the royal blue that I tested. The suede outer gives it a touch of glamour, and feels really soft and luxurious, as does the silk lining. I wasn’t overly keen on the fact that the lining is bright pink, but that’s personal preference — and I mostly wore it with the zip done up anyway.
The gilet is true to size and fits nicely, and is generally flattering. It’s not too bulky — something that has put me off gilets in the past — and is cut generously around the shoulders, giving quite a good range of movement while riding. The gold zip adds to the luxury look and feel, and although I found it a little stiff it never got stuck. I also loved the faux fur around the collar – the brown looks very stylish against the blue suede.
I found it equally appropriate to wear out reporting, or around town, as well as on a horse, although I’d avoid wearing it on the yard as it’s definitely too nice! That said, the dirt and marks that inevitably appear the moment you wear any item of clean clothing around a horse, did brush off easily.
One of my main gripes about gilets is that although in theory they can adapt for many different weather scenarios, the reality can be very different. But because this one has a durable water repellent membrane added to the suede, I found that it stood up to unexpected showers much better than I expected. Twice I got caught in light but persistent rain while riding in it, and neither time did I come in feeling as soggy as I thought I would. The gilet also dries impressively quickly, retaining the softness of the suede.
The fact that I wore this gilet on a frequent basis from late August through to December is testament to how versatile it is — it made for a perfect layer on chilly summer mornings and evenings, and kept me cosy come winter with a base layer, or three, underneath.
As a size 10, the gilet I tried fitted too snugly to wear multiple thicker layers underneath, so I’d advise going up a size if you want to team it with woolly jumpers. However, because it keeps you so warm, I’m not sure you’d ever need to, especially for riding.
All in all, the Windermere has restored my faith in gilets. It comes into its own during autumn and spring, but suits mild British summers and winters just as well. And it looks fantastic whatever the weather!