What to wear in New York City depends on the weather and your itinerary, of course—but regardless of season or activity, carry this knowledge: New York thrives on individuality. Wear what makes you feel good, and take the opportunity to test new styles and make bold statements.
More than any other city in America, the Big Apple inspires people from all backgrounds to walk in their own rhythm and fearlessly express their personal style.
What to Wear in New York City
Here’s a rundown of key pieces and accessories for creating stylish, yet comfortable New York outfits.
From Harlem’s upper reaches to the tip of Battery Park, New Yorkers stroll in the great sidewalk parade with the appearance of effortless chic. Of course, it takes a suitcase-load of effort to achieve the look.
Start with classic denim, a great pair of jeans or jean jacket (wearing denim-on-denim requires chutzpah, but can be ultra-cool when on the mark), but think beyond blue. Jewel or powder tones offer a fresh look and contribute color to the collective ensemble of street life. Consider these Armani jeans for men or these green denim jackets for women.
When it comes to what to wear in New York, a multi-purpose scarf is a no-brainer. Block cool winds coming off the Hudson with a wrap around the neck, or create warmth and drama in the evening by wearing the piece as a shoulder or head wrap. Lululemon does this look well with lightweight and compact options ideal for travel. Or try this unisex option from Evolatree.
A well-known NYC fashionista once described animal print as the new neutral, and after only a few minutes in the urban jungle, you’ll begin to understand the concept. Design devotees love to sport bold prints, from zebra stripes and leopard spots to polka dots and florals. And, lest you think a bold piece must be paired with solids, this is New York: Mix and match those prints to your fashion-forward heart’s content.
Some days it may seem overkill to don tundra-like wear for walking the city’s streets; then you get a blast of wind tunneling along 42nd Street, and you know a plush pelt is in order.
Little Black Dress
For those nonstop days every traveler has while visiting New York City, pack at least one look that can easily transition from museum-hopping by day to club-hopping into the wee hours. A little black dress is always worthy of suitcase space, but for New York, make sure yours has extra oomph. Trendy, yet classic peekaboo lace fittingly expresses New York’s love affair with naughty-meets-nice wear.
Pair a sport coat with jeans for casual chic during the day, then with tailored pants for a night out in one of the many famous restaurants in New York City.
Stylish, Comfortable Shoes
Click your favorite fitness tracker and watch your step count soar as you stroll through the open-air theater of New York’s city sidewalks. Navigating NYC requires constant motion—crossing busy intersections, dodging cyclists, flagging taxis, climbing subway stairs—making comfortable shoes the foundation for all successful New York outfits.
For men and women, a stylish ankle boot is all-season magic that transitions easily from day to night. Just make sure to break in every pair of shoes before hitting full stride on the streets of New York.
More from SmarterTravel:
- New York City Travel Guide
- 10 Best Hotels in New York City
- 9 Famous Hotels in New York City
- 11 Cheap Hotels in New York City
- 10 Best Things to Do in New York City
- Top 11 Places to Visit in New York City
- 9 Great Day Trips from New York City
- 11 Deliciously Cheap Eats in New York City
- 11 Best Foods to Try in New York City
- 10 Famous New York Restaurants Every Foodie Should Visit
- What to Pack for New York City
—Original reporting by Jess Simpson