Thu. Jan 20th, 2022


Puffer coats are a ubiquitous part of winter wardrobes, managed by luxury homes and high street brands © Getty Images

On a recent stormy Friday night on London’s South Bank, the winter coats were in effect. Among the masses who ate street food and drank pints at outdoor tables, it was hard to see anyone wearing anything other than a puffer.

The down-filled coat, or puffer, has become a ubiquitous part of winter wardrobes since the performance brand The North Face emerged as a street-style status symbol in the 1990s. The phenomenon has only hit snowballs in recent years, after being embraced by luxury fashion houses and high street brands.

The appeal of a winter coat that is both trendy and functional is clear – quality down jackets tend to not only be wonderfully warm, but also to have relatively stain-resistant and easy-to-clean synthetic shells. But the puffer jacket’s popularity is still a bit confusing, as it’s not without its shortcomings – the first is my editor’s observation that it tends to make one look “like a marshmallow”.

In recent years, puffer coats have been embraced by fashion insiders like Vogue’s Sarah Harris. . . © Getty Images

. . . and non-service models rushing between fashion shows © Getty Images

Not looking like Mr Stay Puft in a puffer is a difficult question. The quilted style, insulated with goose or duck feathers (the second problem of a puffer coat, which we will come to), may look like multiple layers of stuffed crust pizza and is about as aesthetically pleasing to the waist, but it was not a concern for the American adventurer Eddie Bauer, who came up with the first design in 1936 after an almost-dead brush with hypothermia. It was a man who learned first hand that it is better to be warm than to look cute.

Moncler Lannic quilted down jacket, £ 680, net-a-porter.com

Ienki Ienki Pyramid Jacket, £ 1,060, ienki-ienki.com

That said, now that “fashion” puffers have gotten their hands on, some of them are hugely above functionality. The effect can sometimes be less of a person wearing a coat than a coat that looks like he is walking.

“They’re not the easiest thing to wear, period,” says personal stylist Anna Berkeley. “They make people look shorter, for a start, just because of the volume, regardless of the length. They may be right on a straight, boyish shape, but it’s still not going to be your best look ever.”

Pangaia short reversal jacket, £ 430, thepangaia.com

Perfect Moment Polar Flare Jacket (This Color Style Available Soon), £ 535, perfectmoment.com

My advice is to look over the shoulder. While larger shoulders will benefit from what Berkeley calls “the softening effect” of the fashionable false shoulder – see Marfa Stance’s reversible, two-tone Down Parka (£ 1,595, marfastance.com) or Ganni’s oversized longline down filled jacket, made with a recycled polyester shell (£ 425, matchesfashion.com) – they can drown a narrow frame. A seam that runs inside the shoulder socket will give definition in that regard. Moncler’s designs tend to have this fit, including his top-selling Lannic short down jacket (£ 680, net-a-porter). Skiwear brand Perfect Moment’s styles are also good for a smaller frame.

Riley recycled nylon food waste buffer jacket, £ 495, riley.studio

Studio Nicholson Basel ecodown jacket, £ 595, studionicholson.com

One of my favorite discoveries in a longer style is Ienki Ienki’s down sweatshirt with central zipper and hood (£ 1,060, ienki-ienki.com). It has something of the avant-garde Japanese about it and is one of the few pulleys I would wear over a dress.

As for the problem of down filling, brands are increasingly eager to certify their cruelty-free status and come up with alternatives to pluck feathers from dead birds. Uniqlo now has a recycling scheme offering coats from the down of old Uniqlo jackets returned by customers. Studio Nicholson’s Basel ecodown jacket in black or stone (£ 595, studionicholson.com) has a flattering high funnel neck and is insulated with materials made from recycled plastic bottles. Riley Studio, a British brand that makes sexless clothes, uses recycled nylon material for the exterior, which feels deliciously crisp and colored by food waste onion skins (the result is a cool beige) and filled with insulation from recycled plastic by the Portuguese firm Pafil (£ 495, riley.studio).

Model Ruby Aldridge Wears a Green and White Checkered Ball Gown at New York Fashion Week © Getty Images

So innovative, but perhaps more romantic, is Pangaia’s solution – powder coats filled with FLWRDWN, which is not an optical test, but the name of a material made from natural dried wildflowers that the company claims is vegan, biodegradable, hypoallergenic and cruelty free. is. There are different versions in Pangaia’s bright range of colors, but I prefer the short style (£ 515, thepangaia.com), with its rounded hood like an astronaut helmet, a cute floral logo and a reversible feature, with one side more of a traditional carved puff and the other a smoother, shiny material without seams.

A puffer coat, a showpiece at its core, works best when paired with comfortable clothing. . . © Getty Images

. . . like denim and sneakers © Getty Images

The choice is definitely out there now – long, short, big or neat. But Friday night my conclusion was that it is not so much the size of the coat as the clothes you wear it with. As a wardrobe that has become a show, the puffer is suitable for performance and streetwear teammates: a girl in a cropped cream style with sage leggings and platform sneakers, men and teenage boys zipping it over sweatpants , wearing a twenties in a giant black Adidas jacket with wide sweatpants – they pulled it off best. But while the woman wearing a black thigh-length style over a midi-length gold lamé pleated dress may not have gotten fashion approval, she was on her way to a party and presumably hot as toast. Never a bad place to be.

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