Wardrobe Curation: A Petite Black Puffer Vest, Part 1.

The year before I moved to Philadelphia, I donated/consigned/recycled over half of the things hanging in my closet. As a result of this conscious effort at streamlining, I gained a new appreciation for having a smaller wardrobe consisting of well-loved, well-fitting, versatile items rather than a closet packed with trendy, unworn garments. Getting dressed in the morning got a lot easier for me. The simplification process also completely changed my approach to shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I still love clothes and a good sale– but my selection process for what to add to my closet has become less impulsive, more mindful, and attentive to details.

I avoid using the term “minimalist” here because there seems to be a lot of debate on the web over what this actually means. I don’t consider myself to be a minimalist at all (i.e., the aesthetic doesn’t really resonate with me, nor do I subscribe to the idea of having capsule wardrobes consisting of X number of items). I’ve just become a more conscientious consumer.

Anyways, all this to say I’ve decided to start this “wardrobe curation” series on my blog to share a bit of the thought process behind some of the additions to (and subtractions from) my wardrobe. I hope this will be helpful to other women who seek to simplify their closets without sacrificing their enjoyment of fashion. I haven’t completely mastered the art of closet simplification, but I think this is a good forum for sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned and mistakes I’ve made along the way. So here we go…


In anticipation of colder weather, I’ve been aiming to add a warm puffer vest to my wardrobe. To prevent my head from exploding from the sheer magnitude of options on the market, I made a list of personal requirements/preferences for said vest before I began the search:

  1. Must come in a black color option so that it matches other items in my wardrobe.
  2. Must fit a smaller 4’11 body frame and not look overwhelming.
  3. Must have side pockets.
  4. Prefer a vest that zips up and has snap buttons in front.
  5. Personally, I like brass/gold hardware for zippers and buttons.
  6. Prefer a vest that is fitted or gives an option of nipping in the waist to add shape.
  7. Lastly, I prefer to spend no more than $100 on this purchase.

I narrowed my search down to a couple options.

The first option that arrived in the mail was the black Excursion Quilted Vest from J. Crew (a long-time favorite). Since I’ve had luck with their petite and regular XXS sizing in the past, I ordered the XXS vest in Black during a recent 30% off plus free shipping promotion– bringing the price down to $84. Here are a couple IRL photos:

Approximate measurements of size XXS were: front length (collar to bottom hem) 23.5″, back length (collar to bottom hem) 28.5″, across shoulders 13.5″, arm holes (top of shoulder to armpit) 8.25″, across body (armpit to armpit) 18″.

The vest is composed of 70% down-filled poly with poly fabric lining on the inside. The quilting itself is of medium thickness and not too puffy looking. I like the gold buttons on the pocket flaps and the gold zipper, but I would have preferred a button snap front as well (I think it makes for a cleaner look). I also appreciate that the quilting is sewn on a diagonal as it gives the illusion of a narrower torso. Another highlight– in addition to the flapped pockets, there are openings on the sides of the pockets to comfortably slip your hands in. The pockets are lined in poly fabric. This is fine, but I would have preferred fleece lining in the pockets as well as in the torso to help retain heat.

At first glance, the Excursion vest fits most of my aesthetic preferences. Here is what it looks like on me (for reference, I have a 32″ bust, 24″ waist):

True to the description on the J. Crew website, the fit of the vest is boxy. I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too boxy given the smaller size, but as you can see from the photos, there is no waist definition at all unless I were to wear a belt over it (not sure that I would actually do this unless I were really trying to dress it up, though). The front part of the vest hits at my hips, while the back covers most of my bum (a nice detail for when I hang out at home or run quick errands in my yoga pants… not that I do that… much). There is enough room in the torso that I could comfortably zip the vest over a thick sweater. The main downside I found to this particular vest is that on a person my size, the arm holes seem really large and make the extra fabric on the vest jut out right above my bust. In the end, this detail tipped the scales in the direction of me returning the vest.

The Upshot: Nice hardware and well-designed pockets; didn’t find the boxy, straight fit to be flattering on my body type. Returned. The puffer vest search continues.

– j.

2 thoughts on “Wardrobe Curation: A Petite Black Puffer Vest, Part 1.

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