Also known as a down jacket or – if you’re Wyclef Jean – a bubblegoose, you probably remember the puffer jacket as a trademark of 1990s hip-hop authorities. But while its street credentials have remained unquestionable, the puffer’s never really been the stuff of high fashion.
Until now. Cue Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia, the Parisian designer ripping up the sartorial rulebook. The disruptor who’s made his name on bringing the high-low balance into focus in fashion and making streetwear look high-end. Last year, he took the hoodie to couture level, and now the Georgian-born enfant terrible is setting out to do the same for the puffer jacket.
He’s in good company, too – re-created in oversized silhouettes and muted colours, the puffer jacket has also featured in recent collections from Balenciaga, Raf Simons and Balmain, showing its reemergence is no incongruous blip.
While not everyone can accommodate the satire of spending £1,915 on a Balenciaga puffer (as opposed to £70 at JD Sports), everyone can get in on the action; and why wouldn’t you want to, given the puffer’s winter-beating insular benefits? Pulling off this trend doesn’t have to cost a bomb, but it does require some skill. That’s where we come in.
First things first: your puffer jacket should be built for the elements. “With winter at our front door, a puffer jacket is a must,” says Olie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. “It has the virtue of being lightweight yet highly insulating, making it suitable for a variety of outdoor activities or even the morning commute.”
Outdoor specialists, such as Moncler and Canada Goose, explains Arnold, have always had puffer jackets at their heart, despite the ebb and flow of trends. “Look for a wool-blend, polyester or nylon down-filled jacket (preferably duck or goose), as they are lightweight and warm. The winning AW16 styles are the Descente quilted down coat, Beams Plus’ shell bomber jacket, and the Canada Goose ripstop down jacket.”
Roll Out The Roll Neck
Once you’ve got the practical stuff out of the way, think about looking sleek.
It’s no secret that the puffer has a bulky, often unflattering silhouette, so you’ll need to combat some of that cumbersome shape. The solution? Enlist the help of another of AW16’s biggest trends: the roll neck jumper.
Use the height and texture of the knitted neck to break up the levels of your outfit, and team with slim jeans and boots to round out the look. “I’d wear the Ralph Lauren Purple Label down parka with jeans and a versatile pair of smart-yet-rugged George Cleverley boots,” says Arnold. “[Then] pair with a Tom Ford cashmere roll neck.”
Keep The Balance In Check
Technical brands are great, but you don’t want to look like you’re about to hike Helvellyn when you’re actually on your way to the office. Steer clear of acid neon colours – the one thing that makes technical outfits appear even more outdoorswear catalogue – and opt for pared-back colours instead. “Go for classics like black, khaki or brown in order to wear with everything,” says Arnold.
Keep silhouette in mind, too. Opting for a cropped bomber jacket – as opposed to a coat-length style – drives up cost-per-wear, giving you a piece that can be put to work with longline tees, shirts hoodies and oversized sweatshirts.
Pair It Up With Your Suit
Maximise the puffer’s sartorial potential by wearing it during the week over a suit. We’ve done it with some of menswear’s more strictly casual pieces like trainers and backpacks so why not puffers too? If nothing else, you’ll be the colleague that’s enviably warm and dry when you touch down at your desk.
“Canada Goose is an expert at keeping people warm while also looking smart,” says Arnold. “Their jackets can be worn with anything, and they are warm enough to save you from too many layers. For a weekday commute, I would dress it up over a Paul Smith suit and an Emma Willis shirt, topped off with a Rag & Bone scarf.”
Just keep the colour on the neutral end of the spectrum (blues, greys or black), the branding minimal and resist the urge to accessories with grills, chains and Timberlands.