Living in New York, there comes a day each winter when it becomes too cold to wear any coat other than a puffer. I love my fall coats: A quilted shell and a plaid overcoat, both which I leave unbuttoned to reveal my outfit underneath. I love to walk—even in winter—but suddenly it gets too cold to wear anything other than a down shield against the frigid air.
But puffers can be really great to style, even zipped up to the chin. I created a bit of a formula for dressing with one—it’s mostly about playing with the silhouette, a bit about accessorizing, and a lot about leaning into the puff. Read below for seven ways to style puffer coats, plus some of my favorite puffers available right now, for anyone who still needs to invest in warmth this winter.
The Classic, No Frills Puffer
Formula: Classic puffer + classic outfit + fun scarf/accessories.
I start here with a classic puffer coat: An all black zip-up (some popular options are from Aritzia and Uniqlo), in clean, simple black. A puffer jacket in a neutral color is simple, but with a silk scarf around your head or neck, some clean wool straight leg trousers, and either loafers or Chelsea boots, this coat suddenly looks classy and put-together. I’d also throw on a pair of statement sunglasses. I like an oversized silhouette for winter; they help against wind chill, too.
Formula: Belted puffer + mini skirt or dress + chunky shoes.
You can do this look with any puffer really—just grab a belt (or even a shoelace or string)—though some puffers come with a removable belt. This look is all about silhouette. If you’re belting your puffer, try wearing it with a miniskirt, tights, and chunky loafers or boots. The flare of the coat will make your legs look super long. Puffers can do magic too, you know.
Formula: Bright-colored puffer + neutral outfit + classic accessories.
When I was in college, I got a bright puffer that I hid from for years until I figured how to lean into it. The bright color makes the coat look sporty and youthful, so I like to make it look more intentional by wearing something really classic with it. Think: Neutral dark trousers, brogues (with maybe some fun coordinating socks), and a bucket hat with a rim, rather than a beanie.
Formula: Puffer + leggings + lady jacket + glamorous accessories.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with leaning into the sportiness of a puffer coat, and frankly, I support it. Style yourself like you just got off the ski lift with a pair of leggings or stirrups and wintery après-ski boots. I love the idea of wearing a pair of leggings in a bright shade—like red—to make it an outfit, but that could be the wannabe costume designer in me speaking.
A fisherman or Fair Isle sweater is great, but I think I’d prefer a tailored number like a collarless jacket or blazer and turtleneck underneath to elevate the look when you unbutton at the café. Add a glamorous hat, like any chic skier of the ’60s would.
The Fashion Puffer
Formula: Statement puffer + neutral/monochrome outfit or set + timeless accessories.
A number of us—myself included—have succumbed to trendy puffers, whether faux leather, patterned, textured, or stylized. But once you invest in a puffer coat, you must not get sick of it. So if you’re into “fashion” puffers or have purchased one in the past, consider leaning into the puffer and letting it be the statement of your winter uniform.
I’d style a statement puffer like the above with something casual and neutral but considered, like a denim tuxedo with the denim shirt or jacket collar popped up so it’s visible. I love this moment paired with some heeled boots or shoes to elevate the entire look.
Duvet or Puffer?
Formula: Wrap puffer + printed bottoms + chunky shoes.
If you own a wrap puffer—a puffer coat that looks somewhat like a duvet cover wrapped around your body—don’t let it swallow you. Wear something fun on the bottom, like printed pants and chunky platforms, to anchor the volume up top. You can also get the look of a wrap puffer with a classic puffer coat by criss-crossing the front instead of zipping the coat normally, then securing it with a belt around your waist. Voilà!
Formula: Long puffer + belt + slim pants/bottoms + statement hat.
Long puffers are perhaps the most difficult to style because your outfit is the puffer coat, meaning your look is all about accessories. I tend to choose pants with a slimmer leg so the silhouette of your body doesn’t become a column shape—think cigarette pants, knit leggings, or pants with a small flare, but just at the very bottom. I would wear a statement hat—like a trapper style—to balance the weight. And if the puffer isn’t already cinched at the waist, try a belt: I love a braided leather belt or a chain belt to keep some shape to your sea of puff.