Keeping out the cold doesn’t have to mean spending an arm and a leg on just one jacket. A closetful of just-as-warm winter coats might be worth curating instead so you can switch from a glamorous faux-fur number one day to a put-together nautical number the next. To find actually nice-looking and warm-enough coats and jackets, we turned to 19 stylists, bloggers, costume designers, Strategist staffers, and other tasteful people for their favorite coats under $300. Below, their picks are organized by price point, with separate sections for women and men’s styles.
In a previous version of this story, Stacey Berman, a costume designer who once worked on a movie in the Arctic Circle, said she knows a thing or two about trying to stay warm. “My affordable winter move is to layer the Uniqlo Light Down Jacket under any and all of my wool coats. I treat it like a portable lining.” If she’s stuck somewhere overheated, like on a crammed train, she says the coat can compress into her bag without a problem. It has remained her favorite over the years, she said, performing just as well as it did on day one of owning it to now. When we asked her for an update two years later, she said she still has hers and hasn’t bought any new winter jackets since.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, stylist Rasheena Liberté said in a previous version of this story that she likes this longer hooded version. “My absolute favorite feature of this coat is the removable hood; it allows the customer to go for a chic hoodless puffer on lighter weather days with the option to pocket the lightweight hood until needed,” she says. In fact, the entire coat is packable, so if the weather warms up through the day, you won’t be stuck tying a giant coat around your waist. Strategist assistant editor Jenna Milliner-Waddell also said she owns this coat and can attest to how warm it is. She’s found it’s substantial enough for waiting outside and for bundling up while outdoor dining. The coat has an anti-static lining, a slightly longer length, and a gradient quilting for a more flattering shape in the back.
Aritzia’s famed Super Puff is widely loved by Strategist writers (more on that below), but if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, the lighter-weight, adorably named Little Puff is just under $100. It’s not as warm — the Super Puff is made for temperatures as low as -22 degrees, while Little Puff is better suited for above freezing temperatures — but this one has the same 100 percent responsibly sourced goose down filling. Liberté said in a previous version of this story that this is her top recommendation when it comes to a warm puffer. “This lightweight goose down is perfect for climates that don’t see excruciating winters,” she says, though she notes that it doubles nicely as a layering piece for colder climates.
In a previous version of this story, style coach Kim Hancher said she doesn’t usually see snow or really low temperatures in California. But when it’s actually a cold day, she turns to this lightweight down jacket. “My kids call this my sleeping-bag coat,” she says. “They aren’t wrong.” It features a more body-skimming fit than a puffy puffer, plus zippered pockets and a two-way front closure.
An affordable winter coat list on the Strategist would not be complete without a mention of the Amazon coat, Orolay’s puffer that first took over the Upper East Side (and then the whole world) a few years ago. In a previous version of this story, Ana Maria Pimentel, former fashion director of women’s accessories at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, said the jacket’s voluminous paneling and zippers have “a little Balenciaga influence” at a much lower price point. “People cross the street to ask me where I got it,” said Fernanda Niven, an editor at the Purist. It features duck down filling and a fleece-lined hood, and is available in 11 colors.
As a trendy alternative to puffers, stylist and Rogue Paq founder Jessica Cadmus says she likes this swingy, stand-collar teddy jacket from Nordstrom. Its polyester composition might be considered a turnoff to some, but in this case, Cadmus says the synthetic material holds more heat than natural fabrics. And the winter white color and bouclé texture are “in” this season, she says.
In a previous version of this story, Shannon Schafer, senior vice-president of fashion and beauty at Buckingham Consulting, attributed the popularity of puffers to high-end designers. “Balenciaga influenced the trend by showing puffers with many looks on the runway and they’re now so trend-forward you can even pair them with a dress or a suit,” she explained. Considerably more affordable than Balenciaga is this Patagonia jacket, which Schafer gravitated toward because of the unique quilted pattern. And while this is Patagonia’s lightest-weight option, she promises that it’s just as efficient at keeping you warm as bulkier — and pricier — versions.
The Super Puff’s enduring popularity means you’re bound to spot at least a few around New York this winter. For this reason, Strategist editor Maxine Builder says she was incredibly skeptical of the down-filled jacket, as she tends to rely on more technical brands for their performance outerwear. However, she admits that her Super Puff is even warmer than her Fitz Roy down hoodie from Patagonia, and it’s more durable, thanks to the water-repellent fabric. Builder has one in bright green, and she says she’s never gotten so many compliments. Other Strategist staffers are fans as well: In a previous version of this story, former senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson and former writer Hilary Reid, both of whom own the coat, said they were impressed with the coat’s warmth, removable hood, and fleece-lined pockets. Reid said she also loves the stretchy nylon material around the wrists, which she said comes in handy when you forget your gloves.
Like Builder, Strategist junior writer Brenley Goertzen was also wary of how the Super Puff would perform in “bone-chilling” temperatures, but she says she was delighted to find that the thick banded cuffs and high collar prevented heat loss around her wrists and neck. Goertzen says the hood is also removable, and when it’s on, it adds a second layer of warmth. While the bomber version has the same down filling, water-repellent fabric, matte finish, and deep pockets as the original, Goertzen says the cropped fit “looks lovely” and works better for her short torso.
Lifestyle fashion blogger Christine Awad of Le Chic Street learned about this “a gem of a coat” and “a cold-weather necessity” in a previous version of this story, as she says the puffer manages to feel lightweight even with the same responsibly sourced goose-down filling and a water-resistant and windproof shell. When we asked her for an update two years later, Awad said the coat has held up and really keeps her warm. “It’s a staple in most New Yorkers’ wardrobes,” she says.
In a previous version of this story, New York deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff said this jacket is well worth the investment. “I actually got my black North Face Nuptse puffer in … 1996!” she said. “And believe it or not, it has held up immaculately and does not look like it’s pushing 25 years old.” It’s one of the brand’s warmest and most windproof coats, and even with its boxy silhouette, it’s still notably packable.
Cadmus says she prefers this newer version of the Nupste for its color and cropped silhouette. The bright, happy coral stands out against the usual sea of black winter coats, she says, and the abbreviated cut works well with high-waisted pants. But it still has the same warmth and windproof features as the original, with a nylon exterior and 100 percent goose-down fill. “It’s a high-value jacket,” Cadmus says of the quality compared to the price.
Cynthia Summers, a costume designer on The Last of Us, says she “absolutely lives by” this long puffer from sustainable Canadian brand TenTree. She’s had the ecofriendly and cruelty-free coat for two seasons, and she says it has everything she wants in a coat: It’s lightweight, has a detachable hood, is easy to clean, and uses recycled fill for insulation. According to the brand, the longline puffer — which also has ribbed cuffs, a high neck, and a two-way zipper — will keep you warm in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers also says she likes that for every item purchased, the company plants ten trees at a global location of your choice.
Almost identical to the women’s version above, this lightweight, packable jacket comes recommended by former Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw in a previous version of this story. “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,” he said. After eight years of wear, it’s pretty much run its course, he said — “the down has just about fully flattened by now” — but eight years is “a hell of a run,” he added.
Fashion and style director Donnell Baldwin of Mr. Baldwin Style says this is the “perfect” jacket if you’re constantly fluctuating between too hot and too cold. He says the durable denim and thick sherpa lining keeps him well insulated on cold days, but it’s not too hot or bulky, meaning it’ll work outside or in a stuffy subway car. Baldwin says it’s also aesthetically versatile enough to pair with a variety of outfits, from a Canadian tuxedo to a more formal trouser.
Robert Nowill, content director at MR PORTER, said in a previous version of this story that he likes Carhartt’s utilitarian-style pieces as a puffer alternative for men and women alike. He named the Phoenix jacket as a favorite — and while that one is now sold out, this chore coat is nearly the same. Instead of shearling lining, this one is blanket-lined and the shearling collar is swapped for corduroy trim. It’s also heavyweight, water-repellent, and wind-resistant.
In a previous version of this story, Timothy Grindle, owner and lead buyer of Canoe Club, said this bomber jacket’s silhouette and style are iconic enough that it’ll never go out of style. It’s not meant for the coldest of days but works well with a hoodie underneath, he said, if you’re more into layering. The water-resistant and reversible coat can also adapt to wildly differing scenes: “We wore them at punk and hardcore shows, but also, like, dads at boat shows wear them, so you can’t go wrong,” Grindle said.
As a fan of military-surplus styles, Grindle recommends this M-65 field jacket from Korean brand Frizmworks, which makes a lot of light- to mid-weight jackets. Grindle says the price point is low for the coat’s quality and versatility — there’s a removable quilted liner that makes it warm for winter, a tightly woven twill outer that’s water-resistant (and can be worn alone), and a detachable hood. “It’s really a three-season jacket,” he says. And unlike actual M-65 jackets, this one fits “with a way more modern cut,” Grindle says, that’s “a little off the shoulder” with a roomier silhouette that’s big enough to throw over anything.
While technically a men’s jacket, this one’s a favorite of Builder. She admits, “I sort of look like the Michelin Man when I put it on,” but it’s so great, she doesn’t mind. “It’s also super-lightweight because it’s down, so I never really overheat while wearing it,” she says. And while the one downside is that it’s not waterproof, it’s lightweight enough that she has no problem layering it.
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