With the seasonal chill fast approaching, it’s likely that most guys are desperately rummaging through the back of their wardrobe in the hope that their winter kit hasn’t been devoured by moths or accidentally dumped in a charity bin.
If the worst has happened, then it might be time to hit the shops. Puffer vests sit in the middle territory between autumn and winter, where it’s not cold enough to re-introduce your sentimental anorak, but a lightweight cardi just doesn’t bring the heat.
These winter wonders have quite a history. Washingtonian outdoorsman and all-round tough guy Eddie Bauer revolutionised the puffer vest in the closing days of the 1930’s. He had spent enough time in the unforgiving cold of Washington State to know that you needed as much thermal firepower as you could get if you wanted to survive a frosty night out.
After a risky weekend in the snow that nearly ended his adventurous life, Bauer got put his inventor hat on and got cracking. He stuffed a quilted jacket full of down feathers (ensuring they were proportionately deployed inside the jacket for optimal insulation). The puffer jacket, and by extension vest, was born.
Puffer vests and their jacket siblings became popular among outdoorsmen, athletes, and soldiers who had to hike, climb, and machine-gun their way through relentless arctic conditions and come out the other side hypothermia free.
While it’s likely you’re not heading to the DMZ in Korea or the coldest fringes of Oregon this weekend, a puffer vest is a sensible addition to your wardrobe for those encroaching nippy mornings. These vests both fit right into a smart casual corporate look and won’t land you at the bottom of the style bin over the weekend.
The progenitors of masculine understatement, Dunhill’s trans-seasonal offering should be your first stop on the road to cold weather style. This reversible brushed wool puffer vest will slot into your corporate rotation securely, during the time of year where the temperature drops and you begin to ask yourself if you should have moved to Queensland. This is Italian made with a 100% wool shell – a huge bonus considering wool is self-cleaning, crease resistant, and an active fibre that moderates its ventilation based on your body temperature. The reversible feature gives you interchangeable styling options for your weekly outfit game, ensuring you’re as far away from stale repetition as possible. In a regular cut, there are no limits to sensible layering with overshirts or knitwear. This can be worn over a checked shirt and tie as a replacement to your jacket, but you’d be silly to think this should stay in the wardrobe on your day off. Pair it with a knit in autumn, or a tee in spring, and you’re set.
The Workers Club
The Workers Club combines a historic workwear aesthetic with a philosophy of buying once and buying right. This checked wool vest is part of a landmark collection called ‘The Works’ that’s intended to defy the fickle cycles of seasonal fashion, offering adaptable wardrobe classics that’ll be a part of your rotation for years to come.
This checked wool vest is constructed the purest Italian wool, so it’s applicable to varying temperatures – whether it’s just a little too cold for a cotton pull-over, or you’re getting thrashed with gale winds and hail stones the size of a cannonball. The rustic checked pattern will bolster a stale corporate get-up and complement your casual kit equally well.
Wear this over a white or pale blue shirt and tie combination for your 9-5, and a long-sleeve oxford button down when you’re out of the office. It’s a definite investment piece, but one that’ll mature with age and fit in with everything you own.
Visvim aren’t shy of a playful dig at wardrobe staples, and this reversible puffer vest should remind you that winter layering doesn’t have to be boring like high school maths. The vest shell is made from a cotton-nylon blend, promising superior durability, with additional layers of cotton and down that’ll keep you cosy even when it looks like The Day After Tomorrow outside your office window.
This puffer is more fitted, so think about your layering options when selecting a size (i.e., don’t go skin tight). Wear the simple colour shell with your corporate kit during the week and reverse it with a tee or Henley on the weekends, and no one (except us) will know what you did.
This quilted shell puffer vest by Italian luxury maestro Brunello Cucinelli has plenty of corporate understatement to bring to your grey-skies sartorial efforts. Cucinelli has designed the shell in nylon, so the external layers are resistant to scuffs and won’t leave your top half drenched if you get caught in a downpour.
The internal lining has uniform feather dispersal through the entire jacket, keeping unsightly clumps of fabric from forming on your morning dash to the bus. It’s subdued olive/grey tone won’t look out of place when next year’s chill creeps in, and is perfect for year-round wear with other seasonal colour options. For a low-key winter corporate outfit, wear the vest over a blue micro-check shirt and grey chinos, with a navy beanie to finish off the look.
Letasca are the new kids on the luxury menswear block, launched very recently in only 2014. Their primary ethos is to wed luxury and utility to outfit the rank and file of their urban explorer target market. This khaki puffer vest will satisfy the strict utilitarians in the audience.
With eight external pockets and a weather-resistant polyester shell, this is super versatile for all seasons and will ensure the belongings you stow on board are safe from the elements. Lightly padded, it’ll provide a bit more insulation in winter and offer a decent thermal backup during spring. Wear this with contrasting blues or greys in both a corporate and casual environment, it’ll dress down a shirt and tie outfit and can slot into a layered ensemble with a tee and hoodie in less formal scenarios.
Outerwear brand Herno came out of the post-war boom in local industry by revolutionising waterproof fabrics through the combination of aviation fuel synthetics with natural fibres. This wet-weather rockstar is an amalgamation of a tailored waistcoat and a puffer vest – dispensing of the formers’ traditional wool shell and the latter’s unsightly bulk and strict utilitarian aesthetic.
Unlike its contemporaries, this puffer vest has a five-button closure feature and three pockets (two at the hips and a chest pocket) that resembles the finishing touch of a three-piece suit. Its shell is mostly PVC, so it has spectacular water-resistant qualities and avoids unsightly stains.
This vest has a slim, tailored line and thus looks like it was born to feature alongside a shirt and tie. Layer it underneath a wool overcoat on the nine to five, or just over a simple patterned shirt and indigo jeans for a nippy night on the town.
Stone Island are all about three things – streetwear nous, experimental design, and a touch of healthy insanity (their words). This black puffer vest brings enough of all three in an all-seasons appropriate construction that won’t have you laughed out of the office.
Its upright stand collar eliminates the need for a bulky scarf, but the overall vest structure is sufficiently lightweight so you can incorporate additional seasonal layers when the thermometer dips. Their idiosyncratic ‘micro yarn’ down ensures an ultra-light composition for trans-seasonal versatility – it’s right on the money for nippy autumn afternoons or midyear days that make you doubt the sense of global warming theory.
Use this as an autumnal layer for a smart casual corporate alternative to the suit and tie. Wear contrasting lighter chinos and a white shirt for an additional pop of colour.
If the morning commute is too icy for your liking, alpine brand Moncler have got you covered. Moncler’s cold-weather pedigree is hard to beat: they originally made padded sleeping bags, then down jackets, for hardcore alpine trekkers, before earning the right to officially outfit the French national downhill ski team in the Winter Olympics.
While time on the slopes is not mandatory, this black puffer vest should be a welcome addition for all you winter soldiers. The shell is 100% weatherproof polyamide, while the internal composition is lined with pure down feathers. This vest has a clean, tailored line unlike many of its competitors on the market, so it’ll complement your tailoring like mash with steak. For a winter sensible approach, use this as the final layer over a grey knit, pale blue shirt, and navy tie triumvirate, keeping the colour range in the corporate-kosher family of blues and greys.
Parisian sartorialists Officine Generale has plenty of tailored workwear for the encroaching seasonal gloom and this navy wool-blend puffer vest could be your new best mate for winter. This timeless French navy, in a horizontal padded shape, should be a total no-brainer to add to your shirts, pants, and ties, and it look neat well beyond its first winter of use. The vest’s wool shell has a small portion of anti-drizzle polyurethane for risky mornings where you left the umbrella in your Uber. The design is semi-fitted, so it carries enough extra room for seasonal layering without sacrificing the overall shape. However, its padded lining should give you second thoughts about the necessity of too many layers – a heavy oxford or Egyptian cotton shirt and merino knit should be plenty for cold weather treks to the (ideally heated) cubicle.
Although designed for high-end competitive equestrians, this Loro Piana ‘Horsey’ puffer vest is an ideal starting point for your wardrobe in the early days of winter. This vest is designed for both harsh conditions and a refined aesthetic, allowing weatherproofing tech and tactile luxury to meet in the middle. Loro Piana’s Storm System innovation employs two molecular coatings to make the garment totally resistant to harsh wind and rain, while ensuring the garment fabrics retain their breathability and natural texture despite the synthetic additions during the manufacturing process. Made in Italy from a lavish combination of a cashmere-cotton trim and cotton-polyester lining, it has the right ingredients for cold season that doesn’t compromise your standards of dress. For a casual Friday in the office, wear this with Chelsea boots, beige chinos, and a slim denim button-down.