The Best Puffer and Quilted Outerwear for Guys
“The cold never bothered me anyway!”
Of all the reasons I love New York—walking everywhere, bars that open at 8am, The Temple of Dendur at The Met— one of my favorites is our seasons. Some are longer than others, I know. Fall feels like a dream that was just about to get really good and suddenly your alarm goes off. Spring is a pretty photo on your phone of some cherry blossoms in Madison Square Park that you don’t remember taking. Summer is a travel-fueled fever dream of swampy days and perfect nights.
Winter is everything else.
And believe it or not, I don’t exactly mean that in a bad way. It can be bright and crisp to the point that your eyes are tearing for no reason, and it can be so despairingly dark and gloomy you wonder if it will ever end. But then it snows. Or you take a ski trip with friends. Or you find a bar in your neighborhood that makes the best spiked apple cider you’ve ever had.
I can say with 100 percent certainty that every person I know who “doesn’t like winter” does not own good outerwear. Because when you’re cold, you complain. One January day a couple of years ago it snowed two feet in a single day. One day! People were freaking out. But not me. I zipped up my Uniqlo Ultra Light Down jacket, laced up my snow boots, and grinned like an idiot as I stepped off my stoop onto a sidewalk covered in fresh powder.
To be fair, I also love freakish amounts of snowfall and didn’t have anywhere important to be that day—but still. The jacket was the difference between venturing out to find a cozy restaurant to nurse a hot toddy while watching out the window as people skied down Second Avenue (that really happened) versus moping around my apartment binging The Office.
That’s why I’m a devotee of puffer and quilted outerwear in the winter.
Specifically, Uniqlo’s Ultra Light Down Collection. I first bought the women’s Ultra Light Down Jacket (here’s the men’s version) before jetting off to Sun Valley for the holidays three years ago, and so began an outerwear obsession. I’m here today because I want you to be obsessed, too.
Below, why technical outerwear rocks my thermal socks, and outfit ideas for how to wear all your puffer and quilted coats and jackets this winter:
The Uniqlo ULD jacket packs into its own stuff bag.
I can roll the ULD jacket into its very own little stuff bag and then stuff that bag into a tiny corner of my suitcase. When flying, it all but disappears, and takes so little space I can even bring a bunch of extra sweaters, bandanas and hair styling tools that I definitely don’t need. You wanna bring that third pair of dark wash jeans home for the holidays just in case? Go for it, you’ve got room.
Most recently, on my trip home to Sun Valley for Thanksgiving, instead of packing my ULD jacket into my suitcase, I tossed the stuff bag into my carry-on. That move turned out to be the ultimate travel game-changer. I had an extra layer at the ready without feeling weighed down, sloppy, or disorganized from TSA to takeoff.
Think about it. You’ve got a pillow for resting your head against the window in-flight. It’s also a blanket for when you inevitably get a chill flying somewhere over the Dakotas. (No? Just me?) And most importantly, easy access to a jacket you can throw on as soon as you touch down to colder temperatures.
The whole collection layers like a dream.
Over, under, around and through—that’s maybe instructions for tying your shoes but it’s also a list of the ways you can wear your ULD. Over a shirt or a sweater. Under a denim jacket or a big coat. Tied around your waist if you get hot. With the sleeves through the armholes of a vest. That sounds weird maybe, but you get what I’m going for here. These pieces truly deliver when it comes to versatility.
Because the jackets and vests are so lightweight and thin and have that simple standing collar, my favorite way to layer them is also my greatest hot tip for you. Try wearing the jacket or the vest under your “nice” fall coats to extend their wear all the way through winter. Need some examples? I thought you’d never ask.
- The black ULD jacket under your favorite leather jacket.
- The navy ULD vest under an olive green waxed canvas field jacket.
- The green ULD seamless parka under a wool camel-colored topcoat.
- The red ULD jacket under a shearling-lined denim jacket.
It does fitness and fashion equally well.
The absolute best thing about Uniqlo’s ULD jackets and vests is that they’re like soft, warm outfit chameleons: They adapt to whatever you wear with them! As I mentioned above, the solid colors and standing collars look really sharp layered with the jackets and coats you already own for everyday wear around town.
Since all the ULD products are lightweight (duh), made with water-repellent nylon (nice), and designed for movement (sweet), they’re also really great for doing fitness-y things. Me? I wear them snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the regular. You can rock it as your to-the-gym jacket or pack one into your backpack when you go hiking!
Everything is affordable AF.
These vests, jackets and parkas all range from $40 to $150. And while you might be able to find a jacket at a similar price point from a fast fashion brand, you’re not going to get the quality and fit that makes the ULD collection such a slam dunk across the board. If you’re me, this accessible price point means that not only are you *enjoying* winter in your appropriate outerwear, but you’re doing it in multiple colors and styles like a true beacon of cold weather dressing inspiration!
Affordable puffer jackets for men? Yes, please.
Your ULD will truly become some of the most agile pieces in your wardrobe. One minute you’re layered up for a mid-winter’s date night and the next you’re keeping warm on hike to the top of some snowy peak.
Remember: winter doesn’t have to be miserable, even if everyone around you is. Dress for the season you want, my friends.
How to wear a puffer jacket
So ubiquitous, it’s easy to mistake puffer coats as the lowest common denominator of winter outerwear. After all, anything you wear to shovel your snowed-in car at 7am can’t be that cool, right?
Wrong. Choose well, and you can rock a puffer coat that’s both stylish and warm—one that won’t give off even a whiff of Marshmallow Man vibe.
Below, how to wear a puffer coat three distinct and stylish ways:
Option #1: Sleek ‘n Chic
How to replicate the look:
Wear it well: Bring your lightweight bomber onboard by layering it over a thin puffer.
Wear it well: Add a dash of athleisure to your work look with a puffer jacket over your suit and a sneaker inspired sole on your oxford.
Option # 2: Upscale Outdoors
SG Says: Only men’s stylist and fashion editor Eugene Tong could look so stylish when the weather looks so sh*tty. We can’t tell if this is a vest or a puffer, but either way you can see that a puffer doesn’t have to be that puffy. This one fits nicely under his luxe-looking topcoat, and doesn’t drag the “fashionable” quotient down to the “functional” necessity by any stretch.
Wear it well: Your lightweight puffer can act as an invisible liner for your parka or raincoat.
Wear it well: Layer your puffer under your overcoat to add extra warmth without losing style points.
Option #3: Downtown Cool
SG Says: Okay, okay, Anthony Urbano, the men’s style blogger behind the punch of color look above probably dresses a little more trendy than you do. And that’s okay. What’s important to pay attention to here is the dose of style that red topper gives him.
You don’t have to wear yours with trousers, sneakers, and a hoodie like he does, but don’t default to black or navy just because you feel like you want something neutral. A little brightness on a snowy morning might make it easier to get yourself out into the winter wonderland that is your commute to work.
How to replicate the look:
Wear it well: Add visual interest by layering a mandarin collar puffer under your favorite collared coach jacket.
How to wear a quilted vest
Quilted vests are great because they tend to be a little less bulky than a puffer vest. Want to wear one in more of your outfits? SG’s got you covered.
Wear a quilted vest with a suit
SG Says: Vests won’t keep you all that warm in low outdoor temperatures, but you will feel comfortable wearing it under your suit jacket all day. So if you’re darting out of the office for coffee, or to your car and onto a meeting, you might be able to skip a coat.
Wear a puffer vest with a sweater and jeans
Wear a puffer vest under a raincoat
SG Says: You don’t have to relegate your quilted vest to winter. It’s also a great piece for transitional weather, like early spring or late fall. If it’s rain you’re dealing with, you want to stay dry without overheating. A quilted vest hides perfectly under your slicker.
How to wear a quilted jacket
What makes quilted coats such an interesting choice for fall and winter is that they’re cra-a-zy versatile—the same look can literally go from barn to the office to a night out on the town.
Wear it Well:
- A quilted jacket can be a stylish swap for a more costly leather jacket—it shares the shape and some of the detailing without the expensive materials. The choice looks purposeful, not a trade-down.
- Unusual thread work can provide all the lift necessarily for a plain silhouette. Look for quilted patterns in diamond shapes, diagonal lines, even circles.
- Quilting is a way to add visual interest to your look without necessarily changing up the color. It makes sense that you’d want to keep your outerwear in a trusty neutral like navy or black, but the quilting keeps it from getting boring.
Wear a quilted jacket to work
SG Says: With retro sneakers and a leather bag, you can absolutely get away with wearing a quilted jacket to a corporate casual office.
Wear a quilted jacket on a date night
SG Says: Sleek sweater? Check. Trousers that make your butt look great? Check.
Ready to add some new outerwear to your closet?
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