As I mentioned in this previous wardrobe curation post, I have been looking for a “petite-friendly” black puffer vest to add to my closet this fall. Again, my criteria for this item were:
- Black color
- Fits a shorter body type
- Side pockets
- Zipper and snap button front placket
- Brass/gold hardware
- Fitted, or can be fitted at the waist (e.g. with toggles or buttons)
- $100 or less
I returned the Excursion Quilted Vest from J. Crew as the fit was too large for me. In this post, I review two other options that I recently ordered online, which specifically come in petite/extended sizing.
Option 1 is the Frost Free Quilted Vest from Old Navy. I’ve never tried Old Navy’s petite sizes before as they seem to only be available online, so I was curious about whether the sizing would be comparable to those of its sister stores, Gap and Banana Republic (I’ve fared well in the past with BR’s petite line). The vest was on promotional discount for $20 when I ordered it (score!). I placed an order for one in Petite XS. The black color is called “blackjack”. Some photos:
Approximate measurements of size Petite XS: front length (collar to bottom hem) 23″, back length (collar to bottom hem) 25.5″, across shoulders 12″, arm holes (top of shoulder to armpit) 8.5″, across body (armpit to armpit) 16.5″.
The vest is composed of 100% poly filler and lining. The quilting is thicker, i.e. puffier than the J. Crew Excursion Vest that I previously tried on. I’m not as fond of the horizontal quilting as I was of the diamond-shaped quilting of the Excursion. However, I liked that the Frost Free Vest had a zipper and button snaps in the front placket; the Excursion only has a front zipper. The snap buttons are a dark pewter color– this detail isn’t very noticeable in the stock photos on the ON website. Both the inside of the vest and the inside of the side pickets are lined in soft fleece, which is a nice touch for extra warmth.
The Frost Free Quilted Vest fit much of my initial criteria: a classic black color, side pockets, zipper and snap button front, low price point. Here is what it looks like on me (32″ bust, 24″ waist):
Overall, the Petite XS feels pretty comfortable on. The vest is much more fitted around the torso compared to the J. Crew Excursion, which was quite straight and boxy on me. Even though there are no toggles or buttons around the waist create more body definition, I don’t think that they are necessary with this vest because the cut skims my body fairly well. The back hem of the vest is slightly curved and just a little bit longer than the front of the vest, but not long enough that it covers my backside. If I’m going to be nitpicky about details, I’m not sure about the big collar on this one. I like wearing a coat over my vests when I go out and I think the collar would create too much uncomfortable bulk around my neck and shoulders.
Next up: Option 2 is the Quilted Vest from Talbots. I’ve also never tried Talbot’s petite offerings, but I recently stopped by my local store to browse and noticed this vest on a rack in red and navy colors. I tried on the Petite Small in-store and it was a little too wide, so I ended up placing an online order for the next size down (PP) in black. Fortunately, there was an outerwear sale going on at the time and the vest was 30% off, bringing the price down to $69.30 from $99. Here are a couple IRL photos:
Approximate measurements of size Petite P: front length (collar to bottom hem) 20.5″, back length (collar to bottom hem) 24″, across shoulders 13.5″, arm holes (top of shoulder to armpit) 7.5″, across body (armpit to armpit) 16.5″.
The vest is 100% nylon shell, 100% polyester lining. Note that this vest isn’t technically a puffer, so the quilting is not as thick and “poofy” as the other two vests I tried on. However, it does have a couple features that are similar to the J. Crew vest: diamond-shaped quilting pattern, brass snap buttons, zipper front, two side pockets, twill trim, standing collar, curved back hem. This vest also has some extra features that fit my particular preferences. The front zipper is covered by a snap button placket and the back of the vest has tabs to adjust the narrowness of the waist area. The insides of the vest and pockets are lined in fleece material, which sort of makes up for the fact that there is no poly or down filling in this for extra warmth. There is one small pocket flap at the chest, but note that this is non-functional and merely for aesthetics (why did they do this?!). In contrast to the J. Crew Excursion, the pockets only open at the top, making it awkward to casually put your hands in them. Here are some photos of me wearing it:
Overall, I thought that the PP fit well. The vest is a little less fitted around the torso compared to the Old Navy vest, which allows room for a thick sweater. I have the waist tabs snapped back in the photos above to create more curve at that part of my body. The hem of the front of the vest hits at my hips, while the back is only slightly longer (i.e., no hiding the butt in this one!). I’m a little skeptical about how warm the vest will be, but the fleece lining holds promise.
The Upshot: At the moment, I’m leaning towards returning the Old Navy puffer and keeping the Talbots quilted vest. While the former is a great affordable option (and the availability of extended sizes is a plus), the latter fits more of my design preferences and is a nice alternative to the J. Crew Excursion Vest. Practically speaking, I think I would also be more likely to use the Talbots vest throughout the fall and winter. I tend to wear my vests with a long-sleeved shirt or sweater when indoors, and then stack a coat on top of that when I head outside. I think the quilted vest will add a nice layer of warmth while not feeling or appearing overly bulky underneath my other outerwear. I also plan to be traveling abroad with this vest next month, so anything that reduces the bulk in my backpack will be ideal!