Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Has Mastered the Subtle Art of Wearing a Puffy Vest

“I have a vest,” the Mitch Hedberg bit goes. “If I had my arms cut off it would be a jacket.” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Canadian expat currently running the 1 for the Oklahoma City Thunder, really needs his arms, but that hasn’t stopped him from luxuriating in the power of a truly great vest. Since joining the league in 2018, he’s quietly carved out a niche as the organization’s savviest vest-whisperer, a hotly-contested honorific in today’s fashion-obsessed NBA. 

Like any native son of The 6 worth his weight in Timbits, SGA knows his way around a grail-worthy jacket. But four years into his tenure lighting up the pre-game tunnel walk, he can’t seem to quit his vest habit. No vest is too vest-y for his liking, no fit too big that it can’t be made bigger by adding a vest to the equation. Quilted leather vests from Louis Vuitton, tonal lattice vests from Kapital, trippy, graphic-laden vests from the upstart puffer specialists at House of Errors—the man wears vests the way your college roommate wore his favorite concert tee: with an endearing disregard for occasion and a slightly startling frequency. 

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Gilgeous-Alexander’s vests vary in puffiness; some are blocky and oversized, bursting at the seams with down filling, others are trim and cut just-so, what our neighbors across the pond might charmingly call a ‘gilet’. All of them, though, are styled expertly, with a careless pizazz worth emulating by anyone who’s confused about how to dress between the seasons. 

Puffer vests, we’ll grant you, can be a tricky proposition. They’re not always cheap, and shelling out top-dollar for a layer that won’t keep you quite as warm as its sleeved counterparts might feel like a scam. To that we’d say: broaden your horizons, ye of narrow minds and shivering torsos! Vests are eminently more versatile than whatever gargantuan parka you planned on hibernating in until April. You can throw one underneath a swaddly topcoat and still feel limber enough to reach the overhead bar when the subway lurches to an abrupt stop, or toss one over a thrashed denim jacket when you swear the weather app promised it would be ten degrees warmer. (If you’re Jonathan Majors, you might consider accessorizing with an itsy-bitsy ceramic mug, too.)

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Or you could just follow SGA’s lead, and wear yours exclusively with slouchy hoodies, baggy-flared jeans, and substantial kicks. It’s an easy enough formula to replicate for anyone dutifully following along at home, and it doubles as a stylistic rejoinder to Hedberg’s droll soundbite. Why bother with a jacket, Gilgeous-Alexander’s commitment to cold weather quasi-sleevelessness suggests, when wearing a vest is so much more fun? 

Kapital padded shell vest

Entire Studios pillow down vest

Saturdays “Chester” reversible puffer vest

L.L.Bean trail model down vest