Welcome to The Essentials, our weekly series highlighting a must-have classic, key to building a timeless, pulled-together closet.
One of the most critical pieces in a cold-weather wardrobe is a legitimately warm winter jacket or coat. Fashion tends to take a back seat when the temperature hits below zero—but that doesn't have to be the case when it comes to puffer jackets. 2023's crop of puffers proves that it doesn't have to be an either-or situation (either you're bundled up to oblivion and look like the Michelin Man, or are stuck shivering in a barely-there but trendy option). Instead, the best puffer jackets and coats of 2023 are those that come in various colors, textures, lengths, silhouettes, prints, and price points. And, of course, check the most critical box of them all: Keep you safely protected from Mother Nature's wrath.
Ahead, discover tips from an expert stylist as well as our favorite puffer coats in varying lengths and colorways, ranging from versatile neutral styles to conversation-starting coats.
What to Look for in a Puffer Jacket
"When choosing a puffer jacket, it’s important to first decide whether you're looking for something performance-based or more of a fashion-forward piece," says Alex Rivera, an expert stylist at Stitch Fix. In other words, she wants you to consider how hard you want your puffer to work. "They can vary in down, or synthetic alternative, fill, and weight. Some puffers are perfect as lightweight fall jackets, while others can withstand even the coldest of winter days," explains Rivera, imploring you to asses your thermal expectations.
"Another important factor to keep in mind when shopping for puffer jackets is length," offers Rivera. "Are you looking for something that will hit at the knee or a trendier, cropped style?" The silhouette of your chosen coat, of course, plays a role in its thermal effect, too (longline styles will obviously offer more coverage, ergo more coziness), so the stylist encourages you to consider how the jacket's length will affect its overall warmth.
"You'll also want to find an option with the right fit for your shape," details Rivera. "To ensure you select the best-fitting puffer, I recommend trying it on with a chunky sweater or a hoodie to make sure you’ll have enough room to fit additional layers underneath the jacket on cold winter days."
"Down jackets can come with or without hoods—some are waterproof or water repellent," says Rivera, imploring you to consider your climate, too, when puffer perusing. "No matter what weather or situation you’re shopping for, though, at the end of the day, puffers can be considered a closet staple."
Tips for Shopping for Puffer Jackets
To find a puffer that's both practical and stylish, the Stitch Fix stylist says that "selecting one that can be seamlessly integrated into your wardrobe is key." As a rule of thumb—for all shopping in general, not just for outerwear—Rivera advises you check in with your individual preferences. "If you tend to gravitate towards neutral hues, I recommend opting for a high-quality, weather-proof down puffer in a minimal palette that's great for everyday wear. But if your personal style skews bolder, invest in a statement option"— a quilted coat, a trendy hot pink style, or a multi-textured piece, for instance.
The Best Women's Puffer Jackets in 2023
She's beauty. she's grace. Of course, she's made by perennial fashion-girl fave Hill House Home. If you're someone who is sad to pack away their Nap Dress during the cold-weather months, this ruffled puffer is your dream come true. And not only is the Violet Puffer adorable with a capital A, but it's a high-performance piece, too. The outer shell is manufactured from a GRS-certified recycled polyester that’s both wind-proof and water-resistant (!), and the interior is filled with cruelty-free down alternative insulation that's as warm as the real thing.
"Let me tell you the story about a girl who moved from mild-mannered London to frosty New York City with only a sports jacket for warmth," narrates Jenny Hollander, Director of Content Strategy. "That's it, that's the story. That girl, who is me, learned—quickly, I might add—that there is absolutely no getting through a New York winter without a thick puffer jacket. Enter: The Super Puff. I invested in a Mid a few years ago when I read that it kept you warm all the way to -30 degrees Fahrenheit, and let me tell you: It did! With my Mid, I no longer shivered waiting for the subway or counted down the minutes in the frigid dog park. It's like being wrapped in a bubble of warmth wherever you go—perfect for East Coast winters. (If your winters go beyond -30 degrees Fahrenheit, I can't help you.)"
"The Arrivals Turbo Puffer program was conceived as an iterative step toward purpose-driven design," Jeff Johnson, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of the outerwear brand, says over email. "High-volume lofty silhouettes amplified with high-performance fully certified recycled textiles, delivering on-peak performance with an off-peak ethos."
"Who says winter fashion needs to be colorless and drab? This coat is, without a doubt, a dopamine hit in the form of outerwear. The multi-colored heart pattern never fails to cheer me up, and the cinched waist adds a feminine touch to the puffer coat's traditionally bulky silhouette," says Gabrielle Ulubay, E-Commerce Writer.
"I always loved the retro rainbow vibes of Aviator Nation but its Bolt puffers have become my favorites for fall and winter outerwear," says Tanya Benedicto Klich, Senior Editor of Money & Career. "The Bolt Luxe Apres Puffer Jackets come in black, blue, and white, and are finished in a glossy sheen so you glisten a little extra on the slopes. The puffer is waterproof and insulated with Primaloft for extra light but effective warmth," she details. "At a time when we question where and how our clothing is made, especially our jackets, rest assured every Aviator Nation piece is designed by founder Paige Mycoskie, and handmade by her employees, each of whom are paid $17 an hour at the female-founded company's California-based factory."
"I initially purchased this puffer because we share the same birth year, but The North Face’s re-released '96 Nuptse Jacket has since become my most trusty coat," Lucia Tonelli, Social Media Editor, shares. "With New York’s brutal winters and my teeny tiny closet, the Nuptse checks all the boxes: it has the brand’s highest warmth rating, yet can be rolled up and stowed away within its own pocket. For a practical-yet-unimposing pick, look no further."
"Each season clients request stylish puffers varying in color and finish," details Rivera. "One of my favorites is this blue high-gloss puffer by Kenneth Cole that can be dressed up or down, making it perfect for any occasion!"
"I am quite simply obsessed with this jacket from Lululemon," gushes E-Commerce Writer Julia Marzovilla. "It's lightweight yet warm enough to last me through many-a New York City winters. You can shop it in four other colors and patterns, but I swear by the basic black iteration because it goes with everything and looks timeless season after season. Plus, it's a cropped silhouette, so it doesn't entirely swallow up my five-foot-two frame. It hits right at my waist, which means my entire torso is covered from winter snow and rain."
Talk about a heavy-duty performer—here's Canada Goose's Marlow Parka in all its down-filled and quilted glory. It ranks high on Canada Goose's Thermal Experience Index in the Extreme category, meaning it can withstand temperatures of -22°F and below. And it offers surprising stylish potential with its adjustable and removable waist belt that provides a customizable, cinched-in look.
"This puffer proves you shouldn't sleep on Old Navy," details Marie Claire Editorial Fellow, Brooke Knappenberger. "I got this jacket as a gift last year and immediately fell in love with the trendy maple color. I fell even deeper in love when I first wore it out during the cold NYC winter. It's surprisingly warm for such a lightweight jacket and kept me dry during a freezing drizzle. It comes a bit oversized, so you can easily layer your favorite sweater and scarf underneath!"
Made of Nanushka's signature buttery vegan leather and quilted with recycled polyester, this padded jacket is the epitome of practical yet refined. Plus, its sky blue hue will offer a saturated punch of color on even the dreariest of winter days.
Here's an example of a neutral, goes-with-everything puffer jacket that Rivera referenced earlier. Made of feather-light recycled polyester, Axel Arigato's Observer Puffer also comes with a matching bag you can fold the jacket into when you no longer need it to protect you from the elements. Note, though, that it's water-repellant, not waterproof, so this isn't the piece to wear amid a snow or rainstorm.
"Opt for a more stylish feel with a lightweight, loose-fitting option—such as this quilted puffer from A.L.C.—that can be styled with jeans, a sweater, and Chelsea boots," offers Rivera. Not a fan of the neutral olive hue? Go for the Emory Jacket's vibrantly-printed brown and neon green colorway instead.
"If you’re headed to the countryside to enjoy some fall foliage or not quite ready to bid farewell to florals, Garnet Hill’s Ilse Jacobsen down jacket can serve as the perfect transitional outerwear," says Tanya Benedicto Klich, Marie Claire's resident puffer jacket connoisseur. "The glove-friendly cuffs and water repellent fabric make it practical as it is vibrant."
"Many clients enjoy having a performance puffer they might throw on as they leave for a workout class," says Rivera. Free People's packable jacket is exactly that style, as you can fold it up into its own pocket (the innovation!) and then tuck it safely and demurely inside your gym bag.
Another version of Aritzia's ever-viral Super Puff is this extra-long quilted puffer coat. It'll be your go-to when the temperature dips way down into 'Oh my god—How is it this cold?' territory.
This coat courtesy of rag & bone is a combination of fuzzy sherpa and tech taffeta, making it the coziest heat-trapping puffer around. It's perfect for pairing with sweatpants for weekend errands, dog walks, or jet-setting travel.
Annnnnd here's an example of what Rivera meant by statement coats being ideal for maximalists. With contrasting black and baby blue floral prints, Sea's puffer is the epitome of head-turning outerwear that also serves a practical purpose.
Noize is a brand heralded for its cruelty-free, sustainable outerwear, so if you like the look of fur but not the ethical ramifications, its baby blue faux fluff style is for you. Note its cropped silhouette, too, which allows you to put the bottom half of your look on display while keeping your torso warm and snug.
There's no better (or more darling) way to banish winter blues than with Rudsak's glossy herringbone puffer. Every style in the Canadian label's lineup is seriously w-a-r-m.
For those who dare to stand out on the sidewalk when running errands downtown, this is the puffer for you. Pair Moncler's silver metallic coat with your favorite pair of jeans, chunky knits, and lug-sole ankle boots this season.
Update the vibe of your basic black puffer outfits with this cropped version from Daily Paper, available in sizes XS to XXL. It's made from high-shine, reflective nylon and stuffed with recycled insulation—meaning it's a trend-forward, eye-catching, and sustainable way to keep warm this winter, and really, what more could you ask for in a coat?
Naturally, Alo designed the coolest patent puffer jacket to pair with your activewear to and from a workout (or with athleisure on casual days). You'll notice this glossy number features a few bungees, too, meaning you can customize the fit of your waist, hood, and sleeves to your liking.
Meet the Expert
As Stitch Fix Styling Team Lead, Alex Rivera brings her trend-forward eye, knack for understanding individual style, and over 6 years of industry experience to the role. Since joining the organization in November 2020, Alex has managed and developed 50+ stylists across the Eastern Region and created informational and engaging content to create community, collaboration, and culture on Stitch Fix styling teams. She also serves as one of Stitch Fix’s brand ambassadors in press interviews, and delivers personalized style takeaways to readers in online editorial coverage.
Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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