20 Nov 2018

Puffer or Parka? I Never Know The Difference

What’s in a name?

I have never really worked out the big difference between the parkas and the puffers but for me, they are really lighter and heavier versions of much the same thing.

Before I moved to Europe, puffers and parkas were for National Geographic explorers, mountaineers and those in the northern hemisphere. Not quite but you get what I mean. If you live in a warm and sunny climate they just don’t figure.

The last 20 years has changed not only my way of life but also my way of thinking. I’m a parka and puffer girl all the way. I love them and I need them.

As the year draws to a close I start thinking about the really puffy ones and the thinner field jacket/parkas end up in the back of the wardrobe. Puffers and parkas are fashion items now and are worn as such. They no longer have to climb glaciers and traverse crevasses; they can navigate the meanest of urban life with the highest of heels.

We can wear them over our best, our most comfy and everything in-between.

Travelling in the winter makes them an essential in the pack. Uniqlo makes great versions of these for travelling. They are light, warm and can be squished into the tiniest corner of any suitcase. I often pack one as my just-in-case jacket. They also look pretty good over just about anything.

At home, I prefer a heavier version to double as a raincoat as well. There is a fabulous one on sale from Michael Kors this week. If you need a replacement, this is a beauty.

These puffers and parkas, like the faux fur, will never be the most flattering of coats but that’s not the point. They work and make navigating winter so much easier. The length makes a huge difference and so does the neckline – a higher collar gives a better line, with or without a faux fur addition.

I never thought I’d be happy about being “puffy’ ;) xv

Puff Up In The Puffer

on sale

vince camuto quilted jacket  ||  **bernardo down fill  ||  **michael kors down filled

travel well

uniqlo hooded  ||  uniqlo lightweight stand up collar  ||  uniqlo seamless down

only the best

canada goose mystique  ||  canada goose woolrich  ||  canada goose kensington


Net A Porter has many items now on 50% off 

Don’t get puffed looking at THESE

images, erik torstensson

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Taste of France

I think of parkas and anoraks as having a canvas/cotton outer shell, with a military-surplus look and usually with fur (fake) around the hood. A puffer doesn’t necessarily have a hood and has a nylon outer shell that is much thinner than the canvas and that may (if you’re lucky) be waterproof-treated, and of course it’s stuffed, preferably with down. I guess they started with Eddie Bauer, but they really got trendy with the inspirational designer Norma Kamali’s sleeping bag coat.
I like the look of a parka to give an outfit a rugged edge, but on a practical basis puffers win hands-down–you don’t feel weighed down, even though you may look like the Michelin Man.

Sharon E

Bought a Bernardo packable down jacket a few years ago. Cannot live without it. It’s light weight and seems to adapt to the weather. Like a sweater when it is just chilly, and like a jacket when it is just plain cold. Folds into a small packet to fit easily into a suitcase, or can be used as a travel pillow. My husband got jealous, and I had to get him a similar jacket.


Last year I purchased a ski parka by Bogner. It is great on the slopes, but for everyday I like Lands End or Eddie Bauer. They are sturdy and last for years!


The Uniqlo sleeveless jackets and also those with long sleeves are fantastic. The are very light, roll up into their own tiny drawstring bag, and look smart. They have excellent colours too. Marvellous for travelling.


How wonderful to read at last the difference between parkas and puffers. Never really knew there was a difference. I used to wear my parka to watch our son play junior soccer. The under 8s matches started about 8am when it was still really cold here in Canberra in midwinter. Sometimes the windchill was -8C or colder. The parents all wore non-glam parkas, warm scarves wrapped round and round, knitted wool hats and ski gloves. The poor little boys would run on shivering in their thin soccer tops and shorts. They had to run around a lot to warm up. But he wasn’t pushed into it – he was sports mad and so keen to play. I no longer need a parka or puffer, just don’t get out in the really cold temperatures for long any more. My trench coats over layers are warm enough. And we just don’t go to the Northern Hemisphere in winter. But good luck with the search for the right puffer! I seem to remember seeing a pic of you Vicki in in a fab one with a fur collar. Best wishes, Pamela


PS My husband is a Uniqlo fan. Every time we’re in Paris we visit the store in the Marais – he loves their linen shirts and jackets for casual wear. (He’s also a huge fan of Souleiado for more dressy/special casual shirts and has a great collection – Picasso used to wear them and Jean Reno and many others.) When we were in Brisbane around the end of winter we paid a visit to the Queen Street Mall Uniqlo store and discovered their men’s cashmere pullovers were on sale. He bought 6 in different colours! Best wishes, Pamela


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