I began my search for a puffer coat with defined criteria. The ideal coat would have a two-way zipper, protect against the cold, and be polished enough for New York City.
The J.Crew parka I purchased in 2018 served me well for a few years, but eventually, the tape ends of the zipper became damaged. This prevented it from functioning properly, and I started snapping the coat closed or not closing it at all. A two-way zipper would have enabled me to unzip the coat from the bottom when sitting on the train, which would have allowed for more mobility and prevented stress on the fastening. Thus, I considered a double zipper an indispensable feature this time around.
Puffer coats vary in quality and intended temperature. I decided that one made of down would be the warmest option and black the most elegant color. The thought of splurging on a Moncler or Canada Goose coat crossed my mind, and had I not discovered the L.L.Bean Ultralight 850, I may have continued to consider options out of my preferred price range.
I’m not sure why I hadn’t discovered this gem of a coat on L.L.Bean’s website sooner. It seemed to have appeared unexpectedly one day…maybe it did. I ordered three sizes and selected the one that could be worn with a tee shirt and could also accommodate a blazer or sweater underneath. (The other two were returned.)
I was concerned that I wouldn’t feel polished enough if I wore the 850 on outings in Manhattan, but as long as I don’t pair it with leggings and gym sneakers, it doesn’t give running-to-the-grocery-store-at-11-PM vibes. The coat feels like a warm sweater, mobile, not restrictive. It’s lightweight and folds into a pocket for easy stowing; here are instructions for how to do so. I’ve been wearing it on my commute to and from the office—so has everyone else (in various variations) on the Main Line—but it could also complement a workout outfit to and from the gym.