Guest Columns

Getting down with down-filled puffy coats

The Colorado Statesman

If there is one winter trend that has swept the country by storm from Manhattan fashionistas to Southern Cal beach bunnies, it is the puffy coat. I don’t mean the older version “Michelin Man” puffy coats. Those coats were so swollen with duck down feathers that wearers waddled instead of walked. And forget about wearing one on a plane. You’d need to buy the coat its own seat. No, what I’m talking about are the new thin, trim, stylish versions that come in a host of vibrant colors: hot pinks, blues, greens and purples along with good old dependable black.

Alex Scinder, a legislative intern who hails from sunny California, needed some winter protection pronto so she high tailed it over to Eddie Bauer and picked out this long puffy coat with a faux fur trimmed hood. She looks toasty warm.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman

Both men and women are snapping up coats, jackets and vests from stores like North Face (jackets $219) and Patagonia (vests $119) to more affordable versions available at JC Penney (Women’s vests $30). While not as warm as their older, heavier cousins, these down cover-ups provide about the same protection from the cold as a heavy sweater. But who cares? They are, super light, windproof, water resistant and look just so darn cute. And they are perfect for Colorado winters where cold mornings convert to warmer afternoons.

Consultant Lisa Darnell posed for us in Republic Plaza wearing her purple puffy coat and the newest and most important addition to her wardrobe — an engagement ring.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman

Legend has it that the first down jacket was invented by Eddie Bauer (yup, the same guy as the eponymous store) in 1935, after he almost froze to death on a winter fishing trip in Washington state. He created the Skyliner, the first down jacket with individually sewn quilted compartments filled with fluffy goose down. It was warm, light and breathable, just the way they are today. The typical jacket in today’s market has about 800 fill of goose down. The coolest feature of these puffy cover-ups: They squish down to fit into one pocket or a tiny stuff sack, perfect for packing and travel.

Davin Dahl, assistant attorney general at the Office of the Colorado Attorney General, selected a black puffy jacket from Mountain Hardwear. Dahl likes the fact that the jackets are light but warm and fit conveniently into a tiny stuff sack.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman

Style Matters Tip: When shopping for puffy outerwear, remember that high quality down is usually 550 fill or better. The higher the number, the better the down. There’s lots more to learn about down, but Style Matters was pretty much done with the topic — short attention span. However, should you, stylish reader, want to pursue this topic further, try this website www.hudsontrail.com.

Michael Cunningham, an environmental protection specialist at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, originally wanted a black puffy jacket, but settled for the more flashy blue from Patagonia. Good choice! Style Matters much prefers the blue.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman

Style Matters went downtown and wandered around the Capitol to catch people wearing trendy puffy coats during the recent cold spell. Here’s some of the stylish denizens that were happy to pose for us during their lunch hours.

Computer specialist John Lau, left, opted for the blue puffy jacket from North Face. Despite the wind, he told Style Matters the jacket was keeping him warm.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman
Certified Nursing Assistant Denise Wallace, left, and gal pal Lori Bault chose white puffy jackets, a daring selection as they are a challenge to keep clean.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman
Gwen McFadden, a visitor to our fair city, reveals that the puffy coat has passed country boundaries. Posing in front of the City and County building downtown, McFadden traveled here from Ireland. Her hot pink puffy jacket is by Helly Hanson.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman
Even the newest Colorado residents are dressing in the latest trend — 17-month old Nevaeh Rojas sported a purple puffy coat decorated with hearts.
Photos by Marie Griffin Dennis/Style Matters/The Colorado Statesman

Judie Schwartz, whose Style Matters columns appear in The Colorado Statesman, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets.