The Perfect Puffer

    About this time last year, there was a puffer craze, so I went out and tried to find the best ones for you all. Now it seems that people are still into these things, and -- not surprisingly -- continue to make as many Michelin-Man mistakes as ever. The bad news: This is not the season to find very many well-made (contoured, fitted, stylish) puffers. I've looked, I've scoured, and these measly offerings are all I've been able to find.

    Let's do this with some good and bad options, so you can see what works and what doesn't. Since I live in NE, I am going to try and hone in on the coats that are well fitting and warm enough to brave the weather.

    Gap NO:

    Why? Never trust a coat that you cannot get a view of zippered, snapped and strapped. Chances are the reason they are not showing you that view is because there IS NO shape to be seen. On this one, you can tell that with the wider placket, there is no space on the coat for front seaming (to give the bodice shape). Subsequently it's a giant rectangle, and when you wear it, you will be one too.

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    Gap Yes:

    Self-described as the 'longer, leaner' version of the puffer, (read: less warm, but still probably okay), the style improvement on this version is certainly worth it. The major plus - a belt that will cinch that Michelin tire you've already started to incubate since Thanksgiving. Cool colors too winter white, raspberry, basic black, steel grey very spot on..

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    Lands End No:

    Can't say I am usually a fan of this company, but people swear by them for warmth and practicality when it comes to certain items, like coats. But here is a classic "no." No no no! Too long (for ANYONE), no shape, Michelin Man all the way -- I don't care how warm it is!

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    Lands End: Yes (Kind of):



    This is the only puffer they have that has any shape, and I happen to know from experience that it is sized very large/roomy so order at least a size down to get a better fit (maybe even two sizes down). It's good points? Countouring through the waist and seaming in the back to emphasize your narrowest part. Stick with brown, loden or shale on this one.

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    J Crew: Yes:

    For a shorter option this season, J Crew has you covered, with all the right styling, and some groovy colors:

    You can see how the shaping in this puffer nips in at the waist, and the rear styling is genius-- dipping down over the butt, and chevron seaming your lower lumbar region into the perfectly sculpted rear end (scroll through the views on their website to check it out). I can totally get on board for the majestic purple, brown, black, ivory or even the peacock --why not? If I didn't already have two short puffers (well-shaped of course) I'd be ordering that majestic purple right now.

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    J Crew: No:

    Gonna vote no, however on J Crew's longer puffer this season.

    Though belted, there is no contouring to match, making the belting haphazard and sloppy at best not even any belt loops to serve as a guide to the empire cinch .It'll surely make your butt look huge. Totally the bride of Michelin..

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    Target? A total bust this season in this department. Everything is too shiny (in that cheap looking way) or has terrible looking faux raccoon fur trim--you can skip it.

    Even people I love who have got it terribly wrong this season:

    Like Michael Kors! Who let this out of the design studio? (Tip: a coat should really never have 'maxi' in its name!)

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    Or DKNY (the model can't even look us in the eye on this one).



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    Cole Haan -- nope.



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