Comparative Puffers 101

I've been told that going shopping with me is like attending a tasting event with Goldilocks. On first glance I love/hate everything in the store, on a second look I hate/love everything, and then I start the serious archaeology, followed by a grudging visit to the try-on room. Grudging because that's the last place to be cleaned and vacuumed and I always exit sneezing, grudging because I once turned around to see an over-enthusiastic (or desperate) shopper trying on my coat -- the one I'd worn into the store!

So anyway, I had a 2- or 3- year old black puffer from Lands End, and I was very happy with it, at least until this past November when it began to sprout feathers. Obviously the time had come to replace it, but LE didn't have a very long puffer any more, and I don't need a puff-jacket. So what follows is an analysis of how this year's J.Crew Wintress (who thinks these names up? Does the creative talent think Wintress is the female of Winter? As in Old Man Winter?) stacks up against this year's long, that is, above-the-knee ("long" - well, no impolite remarks about why the copywriters think they know what long means) Lands End. Lands End doesn't change its styles all that much, so I think this is OK.

The coats:
the J.Crew Wintress Puffer

the Lands End Essential Down Coat
Fashion note: both coats were available in several colors. The JC coat came in black, dark grey, not-so-dark grey and dark green. The LE coat came in black, dark brown, turquoise, ivory, deep purple and red. I have never seen the point of a pale colored winter coat, especially one meant to be worn in bad weather, so I consider the ivory a non-choice. So 5 to 4 for LE on color choice, although 2 shades of grey gets a point for imagination. For both coats, I seem to remember a navy colorway available early in the season but I may be hallucinating. You go stare at puffers and puffer descriptions for an hour and see what you remember.

The Lands End Coat is said to provide:

The Wintress is described as

So now point for point: the hood on the Lands End coat that I bought 2 or 3 years ago did not close. I made a little hole at each end of its - well, where a collar band would be if it had had one, and threaded a carefully coordinated black shoelace through so I could draw the hood closed. This seems to have been addressed in this year's model. The JC coat has a bungee-like hood closure. Both hoods are removable.

I actually like the self belt on the JC coat better than I thought I would - my first thought was "A sash! How silly!" However, for the purpose, it actually works better than the inside adjustment on my LE coat did.

Both coats, the JC and the LE in this year's catalog, are shorter than I would like. Surprisingly, however, the JC coat is a little longer than the description would indicate, so I'm fine with that. We have biting winter winds in NYC, the wind has to be funneled through narrow streets and around corners, so it fights back. A long looooong coat is really a good thing to have, fashionable or not.

The LE coat has interior zip pockets and the JC coat doesn't. A win for LE on pockets. Both have 2-way zippers.

Another surprise: I like the thumbholes on the JC cuffs. I always have problems with sleeves riding up, or feeling stuffy, and while I wouldn't bother with the thumbholes most days, I like having them available. Win for JC on thumbholes.

I kept the JC coat, but for none of the above reasons. I kept it because it's green, so I can tell which is mine in a herd of black and dark grey coats on a rack. Also because the cut is slightly nicer-looking on me. 


  1. I've often wondered about the JCrew puffer coats - I feel like puffers from fashionable stores are less does your JC puffer compare in terms of actual warmth with the LE one?

  2. Hi, Masada, the JC puffer feels just as warm as the LE. On really cold days I have a sweater on anyway, but that 's true of both coats.

  3. I kept it also because it's green! I debated about keeping it, because I had a black Gap one that I got for about a third the price of the Wintress. But the Gap one didn't have a hOod, a belt, and made me look like the Michelin man dipped in soy sauce. Plus it stank of Something after being in stOrage for 6 mOnths. I kept the Wintress because, like you said, a puffer coat is a real wOrkhOrse and worth the pennies. And I lOve the green. Although hubs says I look like a Christmas tree.

  4. Hi, Dinster! So far mine is keeping me warm and not shedding. The hood thingine works very well, too.

  5. I too wanted a longer puffer for our cold winter, even if maybe it wasn't the right winter after all. Anyway I never liked the JC long puffers of previous years but I liked the Wintress (so Wintress is not the wife of Winter, the God of all Puffers and Coats?), probably because of the golden hardware and the belt, which isn't a gros-grain belt like an old version (talk about a silly idea and the worst is that they still have it on the Crewcuts version, as if a toddler can master the art of belting a gros-grain belted puffer).
    Anyway, when I decided to get it with the 30% off it was too late and was wait-listed until forever so it hasn't shown up yet. Maybe I can wear it in August, after all if we had the mildest winter ever there are chances that we'll get the coldest summer ever too.

  6. Hi, Ema, yes, the seasons have been crazy! I've got stacks and bags of summer and fall things that never got put away for the season formerly known as winter. Now we just decided we'll be spending some time in Florida next month, and it hardly seems worth it to box everything up and then undo it all to pack for Florida, where I'll probably need a Wintress.

    Oh, and those ribbon sashes on light-colored little kids' puffy coats! What genius thought that up!

  7. I purchased a long puffer from JC last year and when I received it, remember thinking I want a second one to sleep in and/or wear as a robe. Needless to say I love it and hate being cold.

  8. H, Tiffany Rose, that's exactly the way I feel! In fact I'm thinking of holding on to the demoted old LE coat for just that purpose, since I probably won't need a hood to sleep in.

  9. haha, I thought I was the only one with the crazy thoughts! The JC coat is soooo soft you could imagine sleeping in it (I'm married to a polar bear).

    I have a tendency to study something to the nth degree and years ago, took on down-filled things. The fill power, fabric thread count and denier are all important to the analysis. However, JC's coat gives one a better shape and that makes one overlook pretty much all other factors.

  10. I love that your coat is green-- in NYC! Seems so much black there when I visit. I've never had a puffer , but this one looks interesting and possibly flattering to Those of Us With Hips.

  11. Hi, Lane, I'm in love with the color. In general I like puffers (formerly known as down coats?) because they weigh next to nothing and scrunch up to next to nothing without wrinkling. As to the hip issue, as a victim of age, gravity and good living, I find this coat well-cut, AS PUFFERS GO. The sash is not necessary to close the coat, or for warmth, so the belt loops could probably be taken off with a seam ripper, or just ignored. But if you don't pull it too tight, it doesn't do any harm. HTH!

  12. Thanks for the comparative analysis. I have also been shopping for a puffer and had considered the Wintress. However, I emailed J Crew, and they told me the down fill power of the Wintress is 330. I end up getting the Shimmer Down Coat from Lands End. Have you looked at the other Lands End "long" coats like the Shimmer and Luxe coats? They seem to have more details and higher quality fabric than the Essential Down coat. Just wondering what you think of them, since you seem to be quite knowledgeable about puffers.

  13. Hi, Esther! I just compared the Lands' End puffer that I'd picked up on sale a couple of years ago with one of probably replacements. As it happened, I got the JC coat and I've been happy with it so far. I will note, however, that we had a pretty mild winter in NYC, so I don't know how it will be if we get a prolonged arctic freeze next winter.

  14. Thanks for this comparison! I have a friend who loves her Lands' End coat in NYC but I like that the JCrew one is more stylish. She claims it's not as warm but I'm glad to see you feel it's warm. Just ordered one and looking forward to trying it out!


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