puffer picking

a compendium of coats

Per my last email, I need a winter coat.

Wonder what happened to the coat I’m rocking in the middle here. I would wear that.

I have needed a winter coat for a few years now and have been histrionically paralyzed by actually pulling the trigger on a purchase the entire time. I nearly ruined Christmas 2019 by forcibly enlisting everyone in my family into giving their opinions on an array of options only to buy none of them. Rather than unpack this particular streak of indecisiveness — and what it may or may not say about the death grip of aspirational perfectionism I’m keeping on the increasingly tiny realm of conditions I can control — let us ogle some outerwear.

Ideally, I would simply acquire this simple, butter yellow, ever so slightly cropped puffer worn by Tyler the Creator on stage at some event or award show that happened entirely outside the bounds of my cultural consciousness.

It’s cool but subtle. Voluminous but not comical. A striking, uncommon color but not obviously trendy.

Ever so slightly more within reach than that puffer of unknown provenance is this truly ridiculous shearling/leather confection from The Arrivals in the same shade of they-probably-don’t-usually-make-outerwear-in-this-color-for-a-reason yellow.

It looks, frankly, a little cumbersome, which is my concern about most coats — their level of cumber and whether it is “some.” And yet, I fear, I shall never be warm again without its fuzzy, questionably waterproof embrace.

This jacket, the one that could save me from the angst of continuing this quest another day, is over $1000. $1195, to be exact. This weekend it $835. A savings of $360 — the cost and then some of many of the other coats I’m considering. The paradox is: In order to afford the coat — at either price — you would need to be flush enough that a $360 is, essentially, immaterial.

Let us move on from this distressing topic.

Everything we’ll be considering is, I hope, in the spirit of those two while also weighing:

Warmth: I need a jacket for outdoor socializing in the dead of winter. Or at least, a jacket that makes outdoor socializing in the dead of winter seem like enough of a realistic possibility that I don’t descend into a dark and immovable despair.

Sustainability: I look for some indication of environmental consideration and, when applicable, check the ratings here.

Style: Shearling seems prohibitively expensive, so puff it will be. In an act of wanton hypocrisy to the prior point about warmth, I prefer something noticeably cropped and boxy. The shorter and puffier the better until we hit the line of diminishing returns.

And now, finally, the many many many options that I have put into and taken out of various virtual shopping carts and watched swiftly sell out now that we’re into Sale Season. (There will be less meta commentary and throat clearing starting…now.)

A new cropped puffer from Girlfriend Collective for $198 and on sale for basically $138. Pros: Simple, sustainable, logo-less, pleasingly matte, approaching the platonic ideal of modern basic. Cons: Maybe not substantial enough? I don’t love any of the color options and the one I like best (saddle) is sold out in my size.

Slick-looking shiny black puffer from Rains, a Scandinavian line of aggressively stylish waterproof outerwear for $430. Pros: Definitely warm and weather-proof enough with trustworthy technical bonafides. Cons: Price (and no post-Thanksgiving discounts for companies headquartered in Copenhagen), and the concerning possibility that I would look like a Swedish punk rocker on a ski vacation.

Fuchsia plaid tweed puffer from Oof for $498 normally and $398 on sale. Pros: I’m not shy, and the company has an admirable commitment to environmentalism. Cons: Even if it’s 80 percent polyester, how waterproof is tweed? Also it’s 80 percent polyester. Will I still adore this oppressive color palette next winter (especially for that price)?

Not quite the shearling but also from The Arrivals: a cropped hooded puffer in a chic tan or a slightly jarring yellow on sale for $295. Pros: The aesthetic is literally perfect and it’s supposed to be warm down to zero degrees, which I intend to never test by staying inside if that ever happens. Cons: This one hurts; I waffled on the color (neither of which are quite right) for too long and now both are sold out in a Small. Maybe I can squeeze into the XS? Or bundle up for a M? I better act fast.

A past season puffer from The Arrivals on The Real Real for $416.50. Pros: It’s always easier for me to commit to a purchase if it’s second-hand and I’m a cliche sucker for this dusty rose color. Cons: There’s very little technical info on the resale site and I’m not super confident in the condition.

Mauve pink, super cropped puffer from Daily Paper for $242. Pros: Actually this is the perfect color, which is absolutely indicative of how even self-aware consumers in total social isolation are still just pawns in the corporate dictation of trendy desires. Cons: Will my crotch get cold?

Van Gogh puffer also from Daily Paper for $308. Pros: I want to love this so bad. It’s a collab with an art museum to create a truly distinct piece in the classic puffer shape that’s a little longer than the pink one. Cons: I don’t quite know, to be honest? Maybe it’s the black base? Something feels slightly off about the overall look?

Patagonia’s ever-reliable down jacket for $249. Pros: I am happy to support Patagonia whenever possible and have total faith in the practicality of their products. The “Century Pink” speaks to me. Cons: This is not, as far as I’m concerned, a “puffer” aesthetically speaking. It’s minimalist when what I want is to look like a marshmallow.

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Apparently, the creeping realization that any outerwear I acquire will literally be the only outfit anyone I socialize with will see over the next several months is dauntingly depressing. So no, I have not yet made a purchase! But I will (have to) soon! And I’ll tell you about it here. Next time.