The men’s puffer vest hasn’t always been a popular choice. It fell out of style for a little while, but has reemerged as a fashion favorite among sartorial minded men and is now having a moment in the fashion zeitgeist (thanks gen z).
A puffer vest—padded vest, casual vest, quilted vest, down vest, vest jacket, gilet—whatever you want to call it, is my favorite layering piece for the fall and spring seasons.
For when it’s not yet frigid and no longer scorching, the vest can help to regulate your body temperature for added warmth—and keep you feeling comfortable, cool and stylish (if worn correctly that is).
And so without further ado:
Here’s how to wear a puffer vest (5 stylish ways) this autumn or winter, depending on where you are. I also include a lookbook of additional styling inspiration and a list of the most commonly asked questions about puffer vests to wrap things up.
Where to Buy Light Padded & Puffer Vests
Before we start, here are some great casual light padded and puffer vest options to take a look at.
On A Budget
- J.Crew Factory J.Crew Factory Walker Vest
- Columbia Powder Lite Vest
- Alpine Swiss Lightweight Down Vest
- Legendary Whitetails Canvas Cross Trail Vest
- The North Face Thermoball Eco 2.0 Insulated Vest
- J.Crew Sussex Quilted Vest
- Patagonia Nano Puff Vest
- Rhone Ultra-Soft Fleece Vest
- Banana Republic Luis Quilted Vest
- Arc’teryx Atom Vest
- Bonobos The Elements Vest
- Canada Goose HyBridge Lite Tech Vest
- Huckberry Flint and Tinder Quilted Waxed Vest
- Brooks Brothers Paddock Diamond Quilted Vest
Puffer Vest Outfits for Men
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The key to rocking a vest without looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is to keep the vest light and slim. This ensures a more streamlined, tailored look that’s much easier to dress up or dress down.
I personally prefer wearing a light quilted vest like the J.Crew Factory Walker Vest or the J.Crew Sussex Quilted Vest; however when the weather gets colder—a thicker, puffier vest works well as long as the principle of tailoring is still in effect. Simply put, if your vest doesn’t appear tailored to your body, you’re going to appear sloppy.
So what is Gorpcore, exactly? Well, it was a term originally coined in The Cut, by author Jason Chen in 2017. Essentially, it’s “camping-chic”, “outdoors-inspired”, utilitarian and functional gear. And it borrows bits and pieces from both normcore and techwear.
Puffer vests are a staple of Gorpcore and a big reason why the aesthetic is ever-trending now. While I’m not styling puffer vests in any of the outfits featured in this editorial, I wanted to mention its prevalence today, especially among the younger, more fashion forward crowd. (Actually, here is one puffer fit styled by me).
With that covered, let’s now get into my looks.
» You Might Like: J. Crew Sussex Vest vs J.Crew Factory Walker Vest (Which is the Better Buy?)
LOOK 1: The Streamlined Silhouette
The first look featuring the puffer vest is this quilted navy light padded Walker vest, dark indigo wash jeans, grey sweatshirt and lightweight brown moc-toe boots combination.
WHY IT WORKS
This get up works because the overall silhouette is trim and tailored. The grey sweatshirt is fitted as well as the navy down vest. The dark blue jeans is slim fit along with the navy car coat which makes for an overall streamlined look.
Additionally, the field watch is a rugged piece. Notice that I’ve swapped out the original olive canvas strap with a clean grey suede, custom strap.
Finally, the brown moc-toe boots have a split rugged, refined aesthetic that looks clean and works well with this fitted look.
LOOK 2: The Monochrome
The second casual vest style features the same vest as the first look, but instead of navy we’re going black. It’s a monochrome look from head to toe with the black wingtip brogues, charcoal gray corduroy pants, dark gray comfort blazer and all black resin strap watch.
Only the shirt is a different shade of navy, which stands out slightly from the rest of the look, but remains neutral enough to stay within the monochrome color palette.
WHY IT WORKS
This monochrome look works because it’s smart casual to the core, leaning a bit more on the casual end. Some of my favorite styles are a half and half blend of rugged and refined aesthetic coming together.
The blazer and navy button down shirt dresses things up a bit, while the corduroy pants, black vest and black wingtips with the lugged sole dress things down. This creates a nice harmony and a look that doesn’t scream, instead whispers between the lines.
LOOK 3: The Dressed Vest
Similar to look one, the third look features the same casual vest in navy paired with slim fit dark jeans. It’s more daring than the first look because I’ve thrown on a silk knit tie with a cutaway collared button up shirt. Layered over top is a thick woolen, shawl collar cardigan with the padded vest as a top layer.
I love the wingtip dress boots and minimalist dial dress watch with silver mesh strap for this getup. They’re all complimentary pieces in my opinion.
Finally, I’ve added the tortoise shell sunglasses with gradient lenses, just because.
WHY IT WORKS
I personally feel that it works because a knitted tie is slightly more casual than a regular silk tie, plus the addition of the brown wingtip dress boots and medallion broguing helps to classy things up a little.
And if you follow Gentleman Within for a while now, then you know that I love a crisp pair of dark wash denim, their versatility is unmatched and it’s prime to be dressed up, in this case with dress boots, a necktie, button up and sweater.
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LOOK 4: The Two Tone
One of my favorite color pairings is brown and blue. And so this entire look revolves around those wonderful earth tones which are the fall season’s perfect accompaniment.
Down low I’m wearing navy chukka boots and up top I’ve layered a tan turtleneck (rollneck) sweater underneath a chambray button down shirt and a light down vest. The light tan chinos pair perfectly with the darker shade, suede watch strap and jumper.
WHY IT WORKS
As I already mentioned, brown and blue make for a harmonious two. Layering is key here as with all of the other looks. These are light layers and so it’s ideal for a cool fall day, around 50-60 degrees F. It’s a casually refined look that makes great use of the down vest as a top layer.
» Related: You might like this J.Crew Factory Walker Vest Review.
LOOK 5: The Outdoorsman
Finally, the fifth and final look features the outdoor vest, it’s more functional if anything. These are fall basics that I’d wear to go on a brisk hike up to the Poconos in the fall season.
I’ve layered the puffer vest underneath a fleece jacket with navy and orange color blocking. For the pants, I’ve gone with wind resistant joggers. I wore gray and lime green hiking sneakers and a green hiking backpack with a 2 liter water supply. It has a hidden rain jacket compartment, just incase.
WHY IT WORKS
The last look works, first because function over form. Although, in my opinion this is a stylish hiker’s getup too. If it starts to heat up, which it often does on a long hike, you can remove the fleece and keep trekking with the dri-fit t-shirt and light puffer vest.
The colors of orange, green and blue not only work well together, but are great for visibility. You can never been too careful out there and wearing bright colors may very well save your life.
Bonus Outfit Ideas & Puffer Vest Lookbook
Check out the gallery below for further styling inspiration on how you can wear the versatile puffer vest.
Frequently Asked Questions About Puffer Vests
When it comes to men’s puffers, here are some of the commonly asked questions that people often have.
1. What is a puffer vest?
A puffer vest, also known as a quilted or padded vest, is a sleeveless outerwear garment filled with insulating material, usually down or synthetic fill. It is designed to provide lightweight warmth and comfort while allowing freedom of movement.
2. How do puffer vests work?
Puffer vests work by trapping and retaining the heat generated by your body. The insulation, often down or synthetic materials, creates pockets of air that act as a barrier against the cold, keeping you warm.
3. What are the benefits of wearing a puffer vest?
Puffer vests offer lightweight insulation, making them ideal for layering in cold weather without the bulk of a full jacket. They provide core warmth, making them versatile for various outdoor activities.
4. When should I wear a puffer vest?
Puffer vests are best worn in the transitional seasons of fall and spring when the weather is chilly but not extremely cold. They are also suitable for layering in winter or as an outer layer on crisp autumn days.
5. How do I choose the right size?
To select the right size, consult the sizing chart provided by the brand. Ensure the vest fits comfortably without being too tight or too loose. Consider your layering needs when choosing the size.
6. What are the different types of insulation used in puffer vests?
Puffer vests can be filled with either down insulation (natural and highly efficient) or synthetic insulation (more water-resistant and hypoallergenic). Both have their advantages, with down being warmer and more compressible and synthetic being better in wet conditions.
7. Can I layer a puffer vest over other clothing?
Yes, you can layer a puffer vest over sweaters, hoodies, or long-sleeve shirts for added warmth. It’s a versatile layering piece.
8. How do I care for and clean my puffer vest?
Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. In general, machine wash on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent, and avoid excessive heat when drying. Always check the care label for specific recommendations.
9. Are puffer vests waterproof or water-resistant?
Puffer vests are typically water-resistant, meaning they can withstand light rain and snow but are not completely waterproof. Consider a waterproof shell if you expect heavy precipitation.
10. What are the style options for puffer vests?
Puffer vests come in various styles, including different colors, lengths (from hip-length to longer), and design variations. Classic colors like black and navy are versatile, while bright colors and patterns add a fashion-forward touch.
11. Can puffer vests be worn in formal settings?
Puffer vests are generally considered casual attire. However, they can be dressed up for smart-casual occasions by pairing them with dressier clothing items and accessories.
12. Are there any sustainable or eco-friendly puffer vest options?
Many brands offer sustainable and eco-friendly puffer vests made from recycled materials or responsibly sourced down. Look for eco-conscious options if this is a priority for you.
13. What brands offer high-quality puffer vests?
14. How do I avoid the “Michelin Man” look when wearing a puffer vest?
To avoid a bulky appearance, choose a vest that fits well, consider a slimmer cut, and layer it over fitted clothing. Avoid overloading with heavy layers beneath. Also opt for the lighter weight quilted variety.
15. Can puffer vests be customized or monogrammed?
Yes, some brands and retailers offer customization and monogramming options for puffer vests. Check with the brand or store for details on personalization.
Wrapping Things Up
There you have it, 5 fall puffer vest outfits styled by me and over a dozen more looks that you can gather styling inspiration from. See, the puffer vest is a great addition to your wardrobe and can be stylish after all.
Which of these puffer vest outfits are your favorite?
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Looking forward to seeing you in there.