The puffer jacket is to lockdown 3 what the tracksuit was to lockdown 1. It is the uniform that unites government-grounded teenagers with parents whose office wardrobe has been stood down. Like a tracksuit, a puffer is comfortable and comforting. A tailored blazer reminds you to stand up straight at all times; a puffer jacket puts its arms around you, and lets you slouch and jam your hands in your pockets. There is something cheery about the airy, featherweight lightness of a cosy puffer jacket at a time when the weight of the world can feel pretty heavy on the old shoulders.
The puffer – or duvet coat, if you prefer – is practical but with a bounce and springiness that lends just a touch of swagger. Versatility might seem unnecessary right now, since nipping to the chemist and walking the dog are not wildly different in their sartorial tone, and there isn’t much else allowed. But just as Sweden has 25 words for snow, lockdown has evolved intricate subcategories for the mood of each walk. Sometimes a walk is just an errand, sometimes it is exercise, sometimes it is the very real and urgent need to get out of the house in order not to go completely stir crazy.
Wipe-clean fabric withstands muddy paws; marsupial numbers of pockets keep mask, hand sanitiser and shopping bag accessible. And when you combine a puffer layer with other pieces hanging on your coat hooks, you can even come up with a bit of a look. I love a smart coat, but my faux-fur and velvet collars feel a bit de trop, while a sleeveless puffer as a layer is just enough. Marcus Rashford wears a sleeveless puffer layered over a trench to front a Burberry campaign; Victoria Beckham calls her leopard-print puffer twinned with a matching jacket “petrol pump chic”.
A puffer vest raises your core temperature without burying you under layers. Buy it one size too big, and you can wear it with normal clothes – a blazer, a knit, a jacket, like here – and be every bit as toasty as you would be in a full-length coat. It’s an outdoorable outfit that will carry you through a winter of walking. Because it’s going to be a bit of a hike.
• Jess wears black blazer, £258, uk.sandro-paris.com. Oatmeal gilet, £110, and roll neck, £95, both reiss.com. Boots, £199, whistles.com. Trousers, Jess’s own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Makeup: Sophie Higginson using Les Fleurs de Chanel and Chanel Le Lift lotion. Stylist’s assistant: Peter Bevan