Puffer jackets, coats and their quilted parka cousins are taking over the outerwear world. They are the most popular form of jacket and coat on the street, and in stores. Worn by women, men, teens and small children across all colours, lengths, silhouettes and weights, they are ubiquitous. 

I divide puffers into two groups. First, the utilitarian “gear” version that is a casual classic. Second, the more trendy darling. Often, you can achieve a trendy puffer look with a utilitarian integrity, which I like best of all. 

Classic

The sporty puffer has been around for decades, padded with down or polyester across an assortment of thicknesses. It’s often made by well-known sports brands like Patagonia, Columbia, The North Face, Canada Goose, Nike, L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer and the like. But stores like Uniqlo, Gap, Target and Old Navy have done a good job of providing a less expensive version of the item. Nothing keeps you as warm or dry as a puffer coat or jacket. The colder it is, the heavier, warmer and longer the puffer can be. 

Gap
Long down puffer jacket
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Trendy 

In the last three or four seasons, puffer coats and jackets have become quite the fashionable, ultra-trendy topper. Fashion puffers are cut more dramatically than their classic counterparts. The silhouettes, design details, and fabrics are a little more unique, as seen in the collection below. Even so, they are extremely practical, comfortable, and an often affordable form of outerwear. They are also easy to launder, crease-resistant, and robust. It is for good reason that the fashion industry has incorporated them into all sorts of dress codes and fashion personas. 

H&M
Padded Jacket
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H&M
Padded Jacket With Hood
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4
H&M
Padded Jacket With Hood
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Zara
Zara Item
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Zara
Zara Item
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2
Zara
Zara Item
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Zara
Zara Item
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COS
High-neck padded jacket
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2

Versatile

Classic or trendy, puffer jackets and coats can be worn over just about any outfit. From ultra-casual to dressier looks, these days puffers are 100% acceptable across all dress codes. The photos below do a great job of showing how the short and long puffer can be incorporated into skirt and dress outfits with heeled boots.

Zara Asymmetric Quilted Jacket

Lauren Ralph Lauren Packable Quilted Down Coat

Zara Shiny Down Puffer Jacket

Zara Long Oversized Puffer Coat

Across both classic and trendy puffers, some styles look sportier and more casual than others. Although puffers can’t hope to look as dressy as a wool coat, dressier puffers do exist. Simply choose designer detailing that isn’t as sporty.

For those who think that shorter hip-bone puffers do not make sense, my word, they ABSOLUTELY do, and I wear mine a lot. They are ideal in cold-but-not-arctic weather. They are also travel-friendly, great to drive in, and easy to slip on and off. They come in an assortment of thicknesses, which is key. If you run warm, choose a lightweight short puffer. If you run cold like I do, choose a heavier weight. 

I am not a sporty gal. I never enjoy wearing gear, and prefer dressy looks. That said, I love puffers because they keep me warm. I have four puffers — three long and one short. The exact items are shown in the collection. 

I don’t feel like the Michelin man in my puffers because they are tailored. Fitted at the waist, and structured on the shoulders and sleeves makes all the difference.

I wear the tomato red utilitarian puffer to and from yoga practice, and when I take Sam outside in our garden. I wear the short toffee puffer as a casual jacket. It has an equestrian vibe and glitzy gold hardware, which is why I love it. The two long puffers are worn in the snow and ice, and when temperatures are freezing and below. They are both by Canadian brand Soia & Kyo. Ultra warm, and impeccable quality. They have a dressier integrity and fit like a dream.

I don’t wear the black puffer anymore (I prefer the more recently acquired ink blue), but I’m keeping it as a spare because it’s a beautiful piece. I’m open to getting another short fashion puffer simply because the toffee is a workhorse. I’d like a style with some faux fur, and I’m thinking cream, tomato red or orange. But that can wait until next year. 

Do puffers have a place in your style?