In New York City, where I live and work, vests are something of an identifying mark thanks to the ubiquity of the Midtown Uniform and trader-bro chic. I came into wearing vests all on my own; for me it started back in high school, when my friends would rib me for having “cold-chest-hot-arms” syndrome. But because vests always worked for me, I hung onto them as a choice in personal style. And after working in several over-cooled offices and coming to rely on the thermal (and stylish) versatility a vest offers, it only makes sense that the layer would become de rigueur in an environment like this.

But rather than succumbing to a prevalent sense of how to dress, I found myself slipping easily into an aesthetic side-stream. I already liked wearing jeans or chinos with collared shirts and loafers, and of course I knew I liked vests. I already preferred a briefcase, even, to the many-strapped backpacks of my student years. So to me, blending with the business-casual good looks of lower Manhattan was a matter of happy coincidence rather than studied assimilation. I’ve managed to wear mostly what I want without flipping any wigs, and I won’t kid you, I’m happy about it.

So how does Hill City’s low-key vest stand apart from the yuppie tribal garb of Manhattan? And how do I justify my endorsement for buying and wearing even more vests, when we’re already standing witness to an impressively bullish market for Wall Street memes? This vest is different because you say it is — if, like me, you decide to rock the vest rather than letting the vest rock you. The point of this thing isn’t to look like you work on the trading floor or pitch deals to would-be clients all day, it’s to be just the right amount of warm in a variety of temperatures and circumstances. And I think it does so admirably well in a way that sidesteps the casual vest’s connotations. Yes, even here, as I write this from a Midtown office desk.

First of all the Hill City vest is not fleece, nor does it proffer a heathered or slub-like texture. Instead the outer layer of the vest is a dense rain-resistant nylon blend, all the better to not soak up drizzle between office and apartment. And it’s packed with Primaloft Gold+ insulation — once referred to by a fellow Gear Patrol staffer as “the good shit” — which is too warm in some settings but absolutely ideal for March on the East Coast. The lack of quilting or any embellishments on the exterior of the vest remove it from any race to attract attention. But when you put these things together, you get a piece of outerwear (rather than just another forgettable ho-hum mid-layer) that does its job with aplomb and never says “Look at me.” And maybe I’ll catch hell for this from my bona-fide friends who do work in finànce, but it’s nice to fit in while knowing you’re doing something a bit different. Nay, a bit better.

Disclaimer: This item was provided by Hill City for reviewing purposes.

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