By Janet Kelly
JUST a random survey on how we dress for cold weather confirms puffer coats have invaded—if not taken over—our winter wardrobes. Alpine-focused brands, such as North Face and its ilk, launched the ski-chic for city dwellers in the mid-to-late‘90s. Its popularity has increased in the past few years, enthusiastically embraced by high-end fashion labels to mass retailers. The pandemic-influenced cocooning trend has undoubtedly spurred their ubiquity.
The best puffers marry functionality with style. But sometimes you have to choose between the two. Some high-quality down coats may excel in the warmth category but can overwhelm small frames and make just about anyone look shorter because of the volume, whatever the length. Fitted coats may be flattering but sometimes not as warm because of the construction and/or the insulation. Generally speaking, goose down is warmer than duck down—and also more expensive.
Keep in mind that a puffer coat doesn’t cover you for all occasions. It usually pairs better with casual clothing. But Herno’s A-line swing coat or Cote London’s similar style would look chic worn with a dress and boots. Mackage’s Cali, thanks to its fitted style and sash belt also reads on the dressier side.
There are plenty of choices out there—long, short, mid-length. Some come with hoods, some with high-gloss or shiny shells, some matte, some more waterproof than others.
Below are some we’d like to see hanging in our closets:
LEFT: With a brand whose founder’s roots are in Siberia, you’d expect a focus on warmth, but innovative technology and flattering silhouettes are also hallmarks of celeb-adored label Ienki Ienki. Its Michlin Jacket is filled with ultra-light goose down and the outer fabric is made of nylon that’s resistant to tears and is water- and wind-repellent. The belt pulls it all in for a chic just-off-the-slopes style. Besides this olive hue, it comes in a satin pink or black for a spendy $1,475 at Shopbop.
CENTER: The eco-conscious Italian Herno only uses feathers and down not sourced from live birds, as in this Cleofe Cropped Sleeve Jacket ($645, Farfetch). Not just your ordinary puffer, the A-line shape with the 3/4-length cropped sleeves, high collar and curved high-low hem add up to an unconventional look. Like the Michlin jacket, the insulation is goose down.
RIGHT: Down-filled and lightweight, Cotes of London’s Chelsea A-Frame Down Jacket ($348) is a good look-for-less option for Herno’s Cleofe. You can also fold and/or pack it up into its accompanying storage bag.
LEFT: S13’s Chalet Belted Puffer Coat with its high-shine finish, cinch belt, down fill, removable hood and faux fur trim will cost you less than half of the similar SAM. jacket described below. It’s $203.99 (with code JOY) at Macy’s.
RIGHT: New York City label SAM. specializes in outerwear that blends practicality with style, such as waterproof parkas and down coats that incorporate materials such as neoprene, Thinsulate and lacquered nylon into hip designs.What’s not to like about its shiny shell, superior warmth (80% goose down), sleeves with thumbhole cuffs, stand collar, drawstring hood and waist-defining cinch elastic belt. The Long Noho Jacket is $675 at Shopbop.
LEFT: Sometimes, you just want to throw on a short, colorful jacket, head out of the house and be confident in how good you look. Want to be warm, too? Consider Vancouver, Canada-based brand’s Aritzia’s Super Puff Goose Down puffer ($250). It’s engineered to keep you cozy to a minus-22°F, plus it’s filled with responsibly sourced goose down (700+ fill), has a water-repellent and wind-resistant outer shell, fleece-lined pockets, storm cuffs and an interior pocket to stash a smartphone. Shown here in matte granite blue, it’s also available in 17 other shades. Plus, there are eight options in high gloss colors.
CENTER: Brighten your winter outlook with a glossy yellow jacket with adjustable, grosgrain ribbon-drawstring hood from Italian brand Add. Comfortable and warm (duck-down filled), the ultra lightweight padded jacket is $570.
RIGHT: Sustainable outerwear brand OOF is the manufacturer of this Oversize Puffer Coat, reduced from $400 to $269.95 at Anthropologie. Instead of any animal-based materials (goose or duck down), polyester is the fill for this pretty violet jacket.
LEFT: An Oversize Tech Puffer coat ($523, Farfetch) in army green from eco-conscious Danish brand Ganni is 100% recycled polyester. Large zippered side pockets accommodate necessities when you’re out walking your cavapoo on frigid mornings. A mock turtleneck rebuffs the cold. It’s on the voluminous end of the scale for puffers; for a closer fit, go down a size.
CENTER: As noted, Vancouver, Canada-based brand Aritzia is serious about the cold. Its long (below the knee to lower calf), super-warm Super Puff ($350) will keep you oblivious to cold to a minus-40°F, it also has all the bells and whistles of the shorter version. Besides admiral blue (shown), it comes in seven other colors and five high-gloss shades.
RIGHT: Mackage’s Calina Maxi Coat with nylon shell and down filling (90% duck down) checks all the boxes. It’s fitted, lightweight, warm and water-repellent. A sash belt is attractive and useful for cinching in the waistline; storm cuffs keep the cold from creeping into the sleeves, while an inner collar keeps necks protected. Wear with light layers; if you need heavier ones, go up a size. The coat is $1,090.
LEFT: A dressy down jacket from Uniqlo’s collaboration with Jil Sander, this satin style with water-repellent coating and down filling will flatter smaller statures. Fitted shoulders that flare toward the hem and an inner drawstring create that desired, defined silhouette. It’s $99.90.
CENTER: A lightweight, packable Big Chill Puffer Jacket with a chevron quilted pattern, water-resistant shell and polyester fill is just right for those warmer winter days likely to come our way. Besides this cheery pink, it also comes in forest green and sells for $19.88 at Walmart.
RIGHT: A riff on the traditional puffer (the inside is quilted), this down oversize military-inspired jacket, also from the Jil Sander and Uniqlo collab, looks way more expensive than it is, which is $99.90 (on final sale).
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