So, I take it you’re in the market for either the J. Crew Sussex Vest or J. Crew Factory Walker Vest? Sounds good, you’re definitely in the right place. This comparison review is going to breakdown everything you need to know about both staple pieces.
I’ve had my Walker vest for a handful of years now (reviewed them a while back actually), you can read that review here. And the Sussex Vest by J. Crew Mainline was acquired few years later, on sale of course.
This review is going to touch on all the important areas you’ll want to know about, comparing J.Crew’s Sussex Vest and JCF’s Walker Vest in terms of fit, warmth, quality & details, durability, sizing & color options, pros & cons—and ultimately which quilted vest is the better value.
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Are These Bro Vests?
No, these aren’t bro vests. They’re way cooler! (and the antithesis to the Gorpcore staple, puffer vests).
While tech bros and finance bros will likely swear by Patagonia—these two lightweight vests from J.Crew and the affordable division of the company, J.Crew Factory, are a stylish insulator that keeps the upper body feeling warm, toasty and comfortable in those cool, fall and milder winter months—while also allow for your underarms to breathe which is a huge sartorial win.
Both the Sussex vest and Walker vest have a similar style and appearance, but there are quite a few key differences which will be discussed throughout this review. Either way, these vests are some of the more versatile pieces of clothing you can wear in the autumn and winter seasons, bro title not included.
Now let’s dive in.
The most important thing to know when it comes to the vests’ fit, is that you want it to wear snugly on your body without being restricting, allowing for light layering underneath like a flannel shirt or light sweater and the ability to layer an outer piece like an overcoat over top. It’s a delicate balance between fit and function.
The Sussex vest and Walker vests are similar fitting, with some slight differences. The size XS from both brands strikes that all-important balance between being snug and allowing adequate room for layering, on my 5’6″, 130 lbs frame. Though, the Walker vests have a bit more room because it’s a regular fit as opposed to the Sussex vest’s slim fit which appears more tapered.
The chest areas are comfortably fitted with room to breathe. I can expand my chest with the vests zipped up no problem, whether I’m rocking a tee, henley or button up shirt underneath.
I’d advise against wearing a thick gauge sweater with the Sussex vest as it might begin to feel restricting, while you may be able to get away with it for the Walker vest.
I like the fit of both vests here, but there are times with my original black, navy and burgundy vests (while zipped up and sitting), it looks like I’m carrying a bit of a belly, even when I’m not.
This’ because of the shell’s fabric along with the more relaxed fit. The Sussex vest’s slim fit, on the other hand doesn’t have this problem.
Both J.Crew and JCF vests have 2 backside tabs that can be secured with a button to cinch it in for a more snug fit if necessary. I make full use of these tabs on both vests for a tighter fit.
The length of both vests is just right too. I personally like that I can wear an oxford button down under the vest and have the shirt tails peak out at the bottom of the vest. It’s a subtle detail that give the fit an air of casual styling.
Both the Walker vest and Sussex vest are the same length with a design detail where the back of the vest is slightly longer than the front.
I’ll get straight to the point here and say that J.Crew’s Sussex vest wins in the warmth department, hands-down. J.Crew Mainline conveniently supplied their quilted vest with PrimaLoft which is a brand of patented synthetic microfiber thermal insulation material, developed for the United States Army in the 1980s.
This makes the Sussex vest better equipped to keep your core warm in the fall and even winter days. That said, the Walker vest still does a solid job of insulating and keeping my upper body warm, it’s just not as warm as the Sussex.
The Quality & Details
The Walker vest’s shell is constructed with 100% polyester and has a noticeably softer outer shell than the Sussex vest. Only the green vest which was J.Crew Mercantile branded is made with a rougher fabric that’s more like the Sussex vest, but not quite as luxe feeling.
On the other hand, the Sussex vest’s shell is made with organic cotton and recycled nylon, while the PrimaLoft filling is spun from recycled plastic bottles. Upon first touch, you notice the difference in feeling of the material, it’s a more premium construction.
The Walker vest is made with YKK zippers which is the kind of zipper that you’ll find on most of the coats, jackets and zip up sweaters that you own. My original 3 Walker vests in navy, black and burgundy all have a strip of fabric in the same color as the vest wrapped around the bottom of the zip.
On the other hand, the Sussex vest comes with IDEAL zippers from the IDEAL Fastener Corporation, a family-owned and operated business, founded in 1936. The zipper is a bit more substantial feeling than the Walker’s YKK zips and instead has a small strip of brown leather appended to the bottom loophole which is an appreciated detail.
The noteworthy details on the Sussex vest is the corduroy trim along the top edges of the front pockets and the corduroy-lined collar.
There’s also an interior pocket on the right side. with button closure to store any belongings like a slim wallet, change or chapstick.
The Sussex also has a vertical front zip pocket that can be used to store important documents like a passport for example.
The Walker vest on the other hand, doesn’t have any of that classic detailing of the Sussex vest and so no luxe corduroy lining or extra front zip pocket, but it does have a single interior pocket on the left side.
In the end, it’s these extra details that elevates the Sussex vest into a more premium class than the Walker.
The extra sturdiness of the Sussex vest’s outer shell, especially gives it a sizeable advantage over the Walker vest’s lighter, softer fabric construction. Although, some may prefer the smoother feeling of JCF’s Walker vest, I personally like the luxe feeling of the Sussex.
That said, the Walker vests have proven to hold up well over a handful of seasons of wear now. No rips or tears to the fabrics and not many visible loose threads. The vests hold up well and continue to be great as a standalone piece, worn over a button up or as a mid-layer under a waxed jacket or car coat.
The Sussex vest still takes the cake when it comes to the more durable vest, though. It’s made with a thicker and stronger material that I know will last longer.
The Sizing & Colors
Both brands offer their respective vests in a size XS-XXL, with J.Crew Mainline currently offering 2 colors of evergreen moss, which is the vest in this review and midnight navy, while J.Crew Factory (J.Crew Mercantile for a short time), currently offers 4 colors of navy, black, dark moss and glazed pecan (an orange, ochre color).
Over the years I’ve noticed that JCF usually has a wider variety of color options to choose from with their vests. In fact, I still own 4 of them 😅. I’m of the mindset when you find an article of clothing you love that fits well, buy it in multiple colors.
Light Quilted Vest Alternatives:
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
The Pros & Cons
- The pocket and collar-lined corduroy elevates the Sussex to a more premium piece
- Great value for a higher-quality, better-built vest
- Stylish and functional layering piece
- Slim fit provides a more stylish, tapered look
- Only 2 color options to choose from
- At least 4 color options to choose from at any given time
- Stylish and functional layering piece
- Has ample room for layering underneath
- Has a flannel-lined version of the vest, but is frequently out of stock
- Not as much of a value play as it used to be with the higher price point
- No PrimaLoft
» Watch my original Walker Vest review
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The Better Value
When it comes down to it, J.Crew’s Sussex vest is the better value. For some reason, J.Crew Factory upped the retail value of the Walker vest to $128, which is more than the Sussex vest.
While JCF’s Walker vest may have more colors to choose from, J.Crew’s Sussex vest is clearly superior it the more important areas of warmth, quality, durability and even fit.
In the end, I still love my J.Crew Factory Walker Vests, but if I had to choose just one, I’d pick the J.Crew Sussex Vest any day. It’s higher quality, keeps me warmer and is made with a more durable shell. And the fact that they’re now the same price, it’s a no brainer as to which one to get.
The J.Crew Sussex Vest is currently 19% OFF.
The J.Crew Factory Walker Vest is also 50% OFF.
FAQs About The Puffer Vest
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.
Here are some other reviews that you might like:
- Outerknown Review (Sustainable Fashion Worth Your Money?)
- Ministry of Supply Review (Ready for Workleisure Wear?)
- Everlane Review (Clothing with A Conscience?)
- Adidas Stan Smith Review (Are they Worth the Hype?)
- The Perfect Jean vs Mugsy Jeans (Best Jeans Series)
Thanks as always for reading and I hope you got some value out of this to better help you make your purchasing decision.
Cheers to your style,
Do you have the J. Crew Sussex Vest or J. Crew Factory Walker Vest?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.