Betsey Johnson Outerwear (5)

What are puffer coats?

Puffer coats are winter jackets that get their name from the “puffed” look that is created when the jacket’s down or synthetic insulation puffs out between the stitching or quilting. Women’s puffer coats are also known as puffy jackets, parkas, or down coats. This style of outerwear is typically worn in the winter, as its heavy weight and detailed construction keeps the wearer protected from the elements and insulated from the cold.

Where did the puffer coat come from?

The first puffer coat was made by Eddie Bauer in the 1930s after he suffered a near-death experience in extremely frigid temperatures. His ordeal led him to create an outer garment that used down from duck and geese, for its high warmth-to-weight ratio, as insulation for a weatherproof jacket. He quickly discovered that putting down insulation in a regular jacket shell caused all the down to fall to the bottom of the garment. His solution was to quilt, or stitch compartments throughout the jacket to keep the down evenly distributed. Those compartments, or baffles, “puffed” out, and thus, the puffer coat was born. In the decades that followed Bauer’s design, the coat was used primarily in the outdoors, as a winter mountaineering or expedition jacket. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the puffer went mainstream, with many popular brands imitating the style for everyday wear.

Puffer coat styles . . .

Women’s puffer coats come in many different styles. At its most basic, the puffy is hip length with a high collar and long sleeves with cuffs that keep in the warmth. Some puffy jackets have hoods, possibly with fur or faux fur detailing. Long puffer parkas are popular in cold climates, as they keep the wearer super warm with their extra length. All puffer coats have a quilting pattern and construction that keeps the down in place. This pattern may be horizontal baffles, chevron, diamond quilting, box stitch, or a combination of different patterns. Puffer coats are insulated with either duck or goose down, or synthetic insulation.

How to wear a puffer coat . . .

If you’re leery of this style because it reminds you of the Marshmallow Man, look again. Puffer coats feature tailoring and details that keep fashion and fit at the forefront of the design. Many coats have belts, pockets, and button and zipper embellishments that are both functional and flattering. And you can select less puffy versions of this style to keep your look tailored. When you bundle up, complete your outfit with a warm pair of boots, and accessorize with a great tote to hold all of your cold weather essentials.


Shop women’s puffer coats on sale from Calvin Klein, Betsey Johnson, Moncler, Patagonia, and Andrew Marc.

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