stuff we buy ourselves

Stuff We Buy Ourselves: The Puffers Our Editors and Writers Are Wearing

Photo: Retailers

If you follow our monthly “Strategist Haul,” you’re familiar with the idiosyncrasies of our editors’ and writers’ shopping habits. While we think of those as the highlights, there are plenty of other, less glamorous things we buy — and love — on the regular too. So whether you’ve wondered about the work bags we tote around or the underwear we’re most loyal to, this is the “Stuff We Buy Ourselves.” In this edition, the puffer coats our editors and writers are wearing this winter (no less than three of us, it turns out, are Nuptse owners).

Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor

Photo: retailer

I actually got my black North Face Nuptse puffer in … 1996! And believe it or not, it has held up immaculately and does not look like it’s pushing 25 years old. I got it during my freshman year of high school, at the height of the North Face comeback and following its stint on the cover of New York Magazine. (I wrote about this for New York’s fashion issue a few years ago.) I had yet to reach puberty, and the jacket was a little oversized; now it’s nicely cropped and sits just above my waist. I will say there were a good dozen years or so when the coat hung unworn in my parents’ closet, but about five or six years ago I rediscovered it and it’s been part of my winter rotation since.

Jordan Bowman, writer

Like Alexis, I have loved the North Face Nuptse puffer since middle school. Growing up in Queens, it was all you ever saw. Even though it has a sort of ridiculous, bulbous shape, it was always a certified banger in my mind. I managed to pick up a retro version two years ago, and I started walking around like I was a member of the Wu Tang Clan; I felt as though I had been transported back to the ’90s. The jacket is warm, too, like you-can-wear-just-a-T-shirt-under-it-in-the-middle-of-a-blizzard warm. I once made the mistake of wearing a bunch of layers underneath it, then walked into a mall and started sweating like a D-League player being watched by NBA scouts. That 700-down fill is no joke. There’s also this great piece from the Cut, written by my friend Lei Takanashi, about the history of the North Face and its link to New York culture in the ’90s. It made me realize the Nuptse is as much a signifier of New York as it is a warm piece of outdoor gear. Protect ya neck in the winter and cop a Nuptse.

Louis Cheslaw, writer

What’s left to say about it? I secured mine on Grailed (via Moscow) because these were so hard to track down in the city last winter, but I’m really glad I went to the trouble. It’s the most comfortable, flattering winter jacket. I treat mine carefully (never wearing it in the rain) to preserve the down for years to come so I can rock it whether or not it’s still in fashion.

I have owned this puffer for literally eight years, and because it’s so light and packable, I don’t think anything I own has seen as much action in that time. While it’s a perfect outerwear piece on its own, I especially love how it’s thin enough to slip (relatively) unnoticed under a wool or canvas coat, adding a layer of warmth anytime you’re worried that your stylish jacket alone won’t be enough. Sadly, the down has just about fully flattened by now — but for eight years and under $70, that’s a hell of a run.

Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer

Photo: retailer

When I first put the Super Puff on, I was surprised by how lightweight it felt, and I had some initial doubts that it would keep me warm. Luckily, I was wrong: Even though it doesn’t feel heavy at all, it does a great job of blocking the cold thanks to its wind-resistant material. I love that the pockets are fleece lined so I can keep my hands warm when I forget gloves, and the sleeves have thumbholes! Full disclosure: Aritzia actually sent me this coat, but I’d been eyeing it for a while and had been planning on buying it this year anyway.

Maxine Builder, deputy editor

Regular readers of the Strategist (and my co-workers) should not be shocked to learn that my favorite puffer jacket is from Patagonia. Years ago, my dad got me a black packable men’s puffer at the brand’s outlet store in Freeport, Maine; the exact style is no longer available, but it’s very similar to the Down Sweater. I sort of look like the Michelin Man when I put it on, maybe because it’s the men’s version. (If you want a slim fit, there’s a women’s version, too.) But man, it’s warm. It’s also super-lightweight because it’s down, so I never really overheat while wearing it. The one downside: Down is not waterproof, so I need to throw a shell over the puffer if there’s any threat of snow or rain, but it’s lightweight enough that it’s never a problem to layer it under either my navy Snowbelle or black Torrentshell. It’s so comfortable I even find myself throwing it on when I get a little chilly in the house, in lieu of putting on a sweatshirt or finding a blanket.

Chloe Anello, writer

Photo: retailer

This isn’t the exact puffer I own (mine is from last year’s Marimekko collection), but it looks essentially the same — just a different pattern, and this one is green, whereas mine is blue. It is ultra-lightweight yet very warm. I like that it has a whimsical pattern, so I feel a bit more special in a sea of black puffer blobs. I convinced my mom to buy one, too.

Editor’s note: This coat made in collaboration with Marimekko is currently sold out. Uniqlo’s Ultra Light Down Cocoon Parka is the same style, just shorter, for $60, and the Ultra Light Down Hooded Coat is the same length in a slightly different style for $60.

Liza Corsillo, writer

Photo: retailer

On thrifting trips with my mother (one of our favorite shared pastimes), she spends most of her time in the housewares section looking for things she can clean up and sell on her Etsy store, while I usually make my way through the shoes, jeans, and jackets — which is how I found my old lime-green Patagonia down puffer. I’ve wanted one of the brand’s down jackets for years but never had the budget for it. So I couldn’t believe my luck when I checked the price tag and saw $35 on a pink tag (meaning it was an additional 50 percent off). At first, I thought I would wear it only for walking the dog, because it’s a little beat-up and the color is so loud. But now that the weather is colder, I’ve been wearing it nonstop. The acid-green color is surprisingly flattering, and it brightens my mood. It’s also the warmest and the lightest-weight jacket I own.

Editor’s note: This particular jacket has been sold, but you may be able to find it from other sellers on eBay and Poshmark.

Hilary Reid, writer

Photo: retailer

This winter I’ve been wearing the Super Puff for everything from cold morning walks by the river to outdoor dining. Like Karen, I’ve been impressed by the windproof material and the fleece pockets — but especially by the stretchy nylon material that protects your wrists from the cold, something I’ve found particularly helpful when I’ve gone out without gloves. (And, full disclosure, I was also sent the puffer but had been eyeing it since a friend who actually designs coats told me last year that she loved hers.)

Jessica Silvester, contributing editor

My 3-and-a half-year-old son is in a phase where he makes it hell to get him dressed unless you are dressing him in a color he associates with one of his three favorite characters: Frankenstein’s monster, Santa Claus, or the Big Bad Wolf. Luckily, Uniqlo coats tend to meet his palette requirements, so I bought two of them this season: One is a padded “Santa” parka (which comes in a rich shade similar to that worn by his favorite Santa of the moment, Kurt Russell in Christmas Chronicles), and the other is this wolf-gray puffer, which is airier but still very warm. It’s perfect for 40ish-degree days and is so lightweight that I blessedly do not have to loosen the shoulder straps on his car seat in order to get him into it in the morning (a whole other version of hell).

Dominique Pariso, writer

Photo: retailer

Universal Standard was kind enough to send me one of its new puffers to try out, and it has quickly become my go-to winter coat. It’s super-warm but lightweight and is streamlined enough that I don’t feel like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man when I wear it. It is also downright cozy: I wore it recently to a friend’s outdoor movie night, and it was comfortable enough to really snuggle into. It features a removable hood, a high collar, fleece-lined pockets, and water-resistant fabric. In addition to the gray, it’s available in black, dark brown, and orange.

Lauren Ro, writer

Photo: retailer

I’ve had this jacket in navy blue for years now, and I wear it all the time, so much so that the down has finally given up the ghost and it’s basically just a nylon shell. But I still love it. Every fall and into early winter, I pair this with my Barbour, and the combination has always kept me toasty. I think this is the year I finally get a new one. Luckily, it’s on sale for $20.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer

Photo: retailer

I don’t have one of the staple puffers (a Uniqlo Light Down or the Aritzia Super Puff or a Canada Goose). Instead, I like to get a new coat each year, and I always try to go for two things: discount and designer. One year, it was the Mackage Dodie corduroy down jacket from Nordstrom; another, a Phillip Lim cropped puffer from the Outnet. In 2018, it was this running jacket from Lululemon. I love it — it manages to keep me outside no matter how cold it gets, thanks to the goose-down filling, but it’s also still very lightweight.

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The Puffers Our Editors and Writers Are Wearing