Some people are born to handle the cold. I am not. Having grown up in California, I’m not quite sure I’ll ever fully adjust to the frosty, nose-biting, tear-inducing winters of the east coast. But with almost a decade in NYC under my belt, you can bet I’ve tried every possible method to make the winters as bearable as I can. Besides investing in a collection of wool and cashmere socks (a game-changer for cold toes), the most crucial wardrobe choice I’ve made is curating a collection of puffer jackets that can stand up to a snowstorm or gale-force wind.
My collection of cozy coats has grown slowly over the years, as I’ve found myself in need of styles not yet sitting in my closet. Since winter temperatures can fluctuate so vastly, having styles that can be layered or swapped out from month to month (or even activity to activity) has been key in avoiding the misery of being stuck outside shivering.
Unsurprisingly, practicality isn’t enough. As someone who enjoys the act of putting together an outfit—whether for a meeting, weekend pilates class, or simply to get groceries—I’m always considering how a new addition will fit in with what’s already in my closet. Ahead, I’m sharing the five puffer coats that have found their way into my rotation, and may soon become just as crucial to your lineup as they have been for mine.
Subscribe to Observer’s Lifestyle Newsletter
All products featured are independently selected by Observer editors. When you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission that supports our work.
The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket
Meet the hero of my winter wardrobe. This down jacket is the one that I reach for most days. It’s sporty, which makes it an easy choice for winter hikes and outdoor activities. But the design also has a timeless feel that makes it a cool choice for city dressing, too—there’s a reason trendsetters like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski are spotted in it regularly. My favorite styling is for casual weekend activities—I like to throw this puffer on over a sweatshirt, and style back to black jeans and chunky boots. For workouts, I’ll style this jacket with leggings and a pair of sneakers.
For Lightweight Layering
The Arrivals Haelo Hoodie
The Arrivals has mastered the mix of fashion-forward technical wear. The brand’s outerwear is both cool and practical all at once. The Haelo hoodie has a wide, cropped cut that I love styling with a tee and high-waisted jeans or trousers. The material isn’t bulky, so it’s ideal for layering under a heavy wool coat or leather jacket. It’s also packable, so it’s my go-to layering piece when I’m planning a weekend away and need something that I can easily stow in my bag.
For Extra Cold Weather
Aritzia The Super Puff™ Long
On the days when I look out the window and can tell by the clear sky and whipping breeze that it’s going to be brutally crisp out, it’s time to break out the big guns. This long coat from Aritzia is my must run errand coat—what I wear when I dread leaving the house, but absolutely have to. The fleece pockets, fitted cuffs and high neck with a hood all help me to simply cover as much of my body as humanly possible and keep the wind and chill from getting to me
For Running Outside
Nike Therma-FIT Women's Synthetic Fill Running Jacket
I try to get outside for a run once or twice a week, but that can be especially daunting when it’s freezing out. Layering up with the right gear is the key to making time outside exercising bearable. I’ve always stuck by Nike’s puffy running jackets because they’re both warm and breathable. Smart details like sleeves with thumbholes and a fleece collar are key for keeping cold spots comfy.
For Fun Flare
Paloma Wool Khaki Eclipse Down Jacket
It’s a pet peeve of mine when “fashionable” puffer coats aren’t actually functional for cold weather. Too often, weird flaps or frills are added, but at the cost of function. This cool Paloma Wool coat still has all the smart details of a good coat—elasticized cuffs, a high-zip neck and two way closures. But the waist detail, detachable sleeves, and cool, oil-slick coloring make this style feel like a statement piece.