Alyson Walsh, Hobbs
Photo: David Nyanzi

Never stop experimenting, is part of the advice I’ve been giving on my Ageless Style tour. I can’t tell you anymore than that because there are still a couple of gigs to go: Hobbs in Cheltenham next week and then Coffee and Style Solutions at Bath in Fashion. Trying out new things, old things, new combinations of old things, is the only one way to discover a fresh wardrobe favourite. So here I am taking my own advice and layering a gilet over denim (similar jeans HERE and shirt HERE). I may have dismissed sleeveless jackets and coats in the past, ahem, but everyone’s entitled to a sartorial U-turn. This is actually Hobbs gilet dress but the fabric is substantial and it’s lined, and I’ve been wearing it loads (it’s currently on sale but there are still a few available HERE and in store). The versatile gilet dress can be worn several ways:

Annette Alyson Hobbs London

For the Hobbs London event – seen here with Annette from Lady of Style – I opted for the ‘Courtroom Nigella‘ approach. Smartening things up with a lovely white shirt (this is the Maddie shirt and has a bib detail at the front, like a men’s dress shirt). You can’t see in the picture but, once again, I’m wearing the dress over trousers:

cropped trousers_1008_1080
The gilet dress also works over a stripy top, available HERE

Cropped, stretch sateen and comfortable enough for an eight hour train journey to Glasgow (Ava trousers, available HERE) – central England was flooded and we had delays and detours but inclement weather would not deter the Style Sessions. The show did go on. So far, the tour has taken in London, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow and I’ve had a fantastic time, met so many lovely women  – both the staff at Hobbs and the customers are a joy to work with – and scoffed plenty of top-notch canapes.

With or without sleeves, I am partial to a standout jacket. This Sunny Yellow coat is another of my favourite spring things, available HERE.


sunny yellow spring coat-2237_01_1008_1080
Sunny yellow coat, available HERE


Next stop Cheltenham, I’m thinking of breaking out a pair of culottes.






14 thoughts on “How to wear a sleeveless jacket or coat

  1. I agree never say never, but a sleeveless coat, hmm.

    Actually at this very moment I’m wearing a cropped denim gilet to keep my back warm (old drafty house) but I just can’t quite see the point of an outdoor coat that’s sleeveless. Indoors, mind you, is different, and that second photo (where you look stunning if I may say so) is a good example of a classic look, and I’d go with that.

  2. Love the earrings in the first picture. They make the outfit. And love the entire outfit in the second photo – particularly the earrings and the way you have buttoned the dress and worn the belt. Fabulous. Yvonne

  3. You are so right…’Never stop experimenting’ – the key must be to have a wardrobe of gorgeous fabrics in classic styles with the fun finds, layers and playful elements there to lift the looks. Enjoy them.

  4. I love that sleeveless dress/gilet… what we might call a jumper/vest. Whatever… different names, same piece of clothing. I’d wear one if I were still working, but by the time I could wear it without a coat over it, it would be summer and too hot. Retirement means that my outerwear must be part of the outfit, as I rarely shed my coat like I did when I worked. You know… arrive at work, shed coat, have wonderful outfit on underneath?
    I’ve also been converted to culottes. Gad! Can’t believe that. Two years ago when I first saw them I said never again. I wore them in the seventies, when we called them “goucho” pants, and hoped never to wear them again. Have to stop saying “never again.” I’m always retracting my declarations a year or so later:)

  5. I LOVE the look in the second photo. I think it goes back to my love for my old school uniforms but it just looks so proper without appearing too prim or twee. I also am adoring the earrings. I wish we had a full-length view of the outfit. Third pic looks like it came out of my closet–with a smaller ass. Great post!

  6. Experimentation and an open mind are key. I found some new combinations when I did a purge of my closet; I also have to agree with Sue above – I, too, am thinking about some culottes…

  7. Here I am……..still not receiving YOUR POSTS!Plus, quite a few others……….BUGGERS!Is that what YOU ENGLISH SAY?
    I think YOU NEED that yellow/GOLD coat!Adore the sleeveless coat on YOU……….Did see that on INSTAGRAM!

  8. I can understand a gilet, but sleeveless coats just strike me as some fashion designer having a big old cynical laugh at our expense. Maybe I wander about with my eyes closed all day, but I can actually only recall ever seeing one person wearing one, and my thoughts were, in order, 1. That looks really weird, where are the arms? 2. Bet that’s in the charity bag next year….You’d look cool whatever you fling on Alyson, but in the grim far north when it’s jacket weather I reach for sleeves.

  9. @Penny. I live in the west coast of the US. Winters are very mild and a sleeveless coat provides just right enough warmth without over doing it. We west coasters are a sleeveless wearing bunch, from vests, jackets to coats. It’s a vital part of our wardrobe from casual to dress-up.

  10. I don’t think I’ll be participating in the sleeveless coat thing. It’s like a long vest..a bit matronly. And it’s not flattering as far as I’ve seen. So PASS!

  11. It was such a lovely evening at Hobbs and so good we have met again, Alyson!
    I loved the black dress and how you wore it that evening and this new styling is brilliant.
    I have a beige long sleeveless blazer and wear it a lot, although I don’t consider it as a coat for bad weather but more an alternative to a blazer or cardigan. I think that’s exactly what you did in the first photo.

    Annette | Lady of Style

  12. That gilet dress is a brilliant piece. Love it both ways. Your denim outfit has given me an idea for a knit gilet that I’ve been trying to style other than with an all-black layer underneath. Wish I were over there to attend one of your Ageless Style tours!

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