I think it will be helpful for all the new Elementalists, who are trying to get to maximum level at the moment and those who will follow as secondary characters, to find a comparison on how good or bad your current armour really is - and if you should upgrade.
This table below shows you Fine (mostly even numbers) and Masterwork (mostly uneven numbers) crafted armour you can make yourself as a Tailor or buy fairly cheap (up until Lvl 60/65 items) on the trading post.
Rare (yellow coloured) or Exotic (orange coloured) armour pieces have higher defence values than the items listed here when they have the same requirement level as a Fine or Masterwork armour. High end items are only listed at the bottom with their maximum level of 80.
What I did not incorporate into the table at all, are the stats of the armour, like having "+ Power" or "+ Vitality". I will try to do that later, when I found a good way to present the numbers.
Too many numbers? Want a rule of thumb?
Try not to run around with armour pieces that are more than 10 Levels below your characater level or the level of the area you are in. You will notice a significant increase in "squishy-ness" once you hit areas that do not scale you down.