Here’s a blast from the past if you wore dressier clothes to the office back in the mid to late ‘90s. I had two dressy and lined gilets — one black and one beige — that I wore to work almost year round with summery and autumnal layers. I found them very handy in Cape Town’s Mediterranean climate, where it doesn’t get very cold. They provided just the right insulation in gentle air conditioning too.
The ‘90s became more minimal and neutral further along in the decade. And now the dressy and longer length gilet, or sleeveless jacket of that era, is having a fringe fashion moment. If it’s your vibe, here are some looks to inspire you. I’ve included some transitional outfits for those in the Southern hemisphere.
1. Bermuda Shorts Set
Long dressy Bermuda shorts were something I could wear to the office back in 1995, and I did just that with a matching gilet. My set was beige, which I wore with a form-fitting black sleeved and tucked slash neck knitted top and dressy refined black sandals. I added a black and gold belt, and brown bag. The version here is a black gilet and shorts set combined with a black cropped top and chunky black sandals. Wearing black from head to toe was very ‘90s too. Sub the crop top with a layering piece that is more to your taste.
2. Turtleneck and Wide Pants
In colder weather, a fitted or fluid turtleneck works well under a gilet. If turtlenecks aren’t for you, wear a neckline that you’re comfortable with instead. Wear the top layers over wide full-length pants, or keep them tapered if slim bottoms are your thing. Add dressy shoes and a bag that works with the outfit, and you’re done. The cream gilet creates a high contrast against the burgundy turtleneck, charcoal trousers, and black pumps. A black or charcoal gilet will create a low contrast, which might be your preference.
3. Belted and Soft
Soft business casual separates were big in the ‘90s. They were neutral, drapey, crepe-y, swooshy, crease-resistant, and comfortable. Here’s a belted black gilet worn over a black tank top or camisole. It’s paired with soft and flowing, extra long white pants. Black sandals complete the summery vibe, but closed-toe shoes can work well too. Make sure the pants are at a length that is practical and not a tripping hazard.
4. Jeans and a White Support Act
This is my favourite of the four because the white is bright, and packs a punch. Combine a pair of dark blue bootcut or wide leg jeans with a white shirt or top silhouette of your choosing. The shirt when buttoned through to the top creates a nice flat neckline under the collared gilet. Leave it untucked. Scrunch the long sleeves to expose some forearm skin. Top it off with a beige or toffee gilet. Finish off the outfit with white sneakers, boots, or loafers, and a white bag. Note how these jeans are at the new shorter full length so showcase more of the shoes. Add jewellery as desired,