So you’re taking a trip and want to know what to wear in New York City? New York City is actually unique compared to most American cities and the dress code ranges. But in general, a well dressed New Yorker loves to look put together and you should too when visiting. The good styles range from American casual to dressy, quirky, a tad over the top and even sexy.
If coming to New York City and want to know what you need to wear, continue reading. If you’re a tourist and want to know what the general New York look is, this post can help. This post is meant to inspire tourist on what to bring and help tourists pack. I want to note that I’m not going to cover every single style there is but rather focus on what is stylish for New York.
What to Wear in New York City?
Trendsetting, Vibrant, Comfort are the 3 words that come to mind when thinking on the New York City style. Let’s face it, although New York is the fashion capital of the USA, it’s still in the USA and the style is reflective of that. Unlike other European fashion counterparts, a New Yorker favors comfort just as much as style. Because New York City is a financial capital, you’ll see a very business oriented look. A classic New York look would range from a preppy style, dressy/sexy (especially on Friday and Saturday night), to downright American casual with a touch of fashion.
Women wear all types of clothing depending on the season. I see blue jeans, shorts, jogging outfits, t-shirts, dresses, leggings, jackets, cardigans, sweaters and skirts. In a city like New York, it’s ok to be ‘out-there’ and ‘funky’ and to bring a little color into the mix. This city is a mish-mosh of styles that there is a style for everyone.
In New York City clothing should make a statement though. In a city of +8 million, women need to stand out and this is achieved by having a cohesive look. It’s okay to use color but it’s wise not to go overboard. My personal take is to always keep the outfit flowing cohesively and never to break up the flow with clashing patterns or colors.
Like European counterparts, black is a popular choice in New York, especially on those grayer cold months. Dark colors do two things essentially, hide the filth (and New York is dirty), and give a great timeless, classic and go to base that every woman can count on. It’s on trend to have at least one pair of black pant, boots, heels, dress and of course a jacket for the colder months.
Stick with boots or at least shoes, try no tennis shoes! It can be said that many travelers wear tennis shoes and they are comfortable for walking but they aren’t fashionable. If you don’t want to wear a heel try flats, some type of boot, or riding boots.
My personal favorite looks are the timeless, elegant looks. I’m talking about a well fitted jacket, jean, paired with heels or a boot. If it fits well on your body it probably will work! Also don’t forget the many accessories you can pair your outfit with. It can be breezy in New York City so a jacket is not a bad accessory a long with patterned and colorful scarves. Of course don’t go overboard on the jewelry; it’s hard to travel with all that and be a tourist.
New York is a place where style can be found in many varieties and people are mostly encouraged to be themselves. I see ranges from hipster, to American Casual, to business smart, to tailored and elegant. Go with what makes you happy but make sure whatever you wear is fitted correctly on you and flows with the rest of your clothes.
Men don’t have as much variety as women but in a city like New York, you will see all sorts of style from downright grungy to tailored, fitted and preppy. The average man tourist will probably come in some sort of university t-shirt with jeans or basketball shorts and that’s what I want men to avoid when visiting New York.
First advice would be try to avoid tennis shoes although it is common to see them. I don’t think they are stylish but many business men wear them walking around New York City and I understand why, but it’s just not that fashionable. Converses, chukkas, boots, and even stylish sneakers are a step up from tennis shoes. With the right shoe you could walk all day.
Because it’s the USA it is common to see men wear looser clothing and let it drape on the body. However I think it’s personally better to have a fitted look that is perfect for your body. Men have a problem with too much material in their outfits and this should be avoided. Pants should also be fitted and down the leg with minimal stacking at the bottom. Make sure the waist of the pant stays up without a belt.
The current trends seem to favor darker pants, jeans, and shorts no matter what season. For the top a nice fitted shirt, t-shirt, jackets, and blazers are popular. If you want to go with the more casual look, which is popular in New York City, try to find a stylish sweater and pair it with some jeans. Suits and dressier wear are worn in New York, especially when going out at night or at work. Don’t be afraid to mix in a scarf for extra style. American men seem to have a problem with scarves.
I feel that New York has one of the most preppy styles out of the rest of the United States. The style tends to be more fitted and put together than cities like Chicago. Style exists all seasons and men like to even carry around man bags. I think accessories are all more popular like ties, watches, and even fake glasses. There is a sense to live up to a certain style in New York City.
Both men and women should buy some sort of fun accessory to have whether that is a scarf, necklace, random piece of jewelry. New York is one of the best city to take a fashion risk. In fact you probably won’t even stand out as you’ll see so many unique/strange styles in one day. Dark jeans are a go to and you can never really go wrong with black.
Season to Season
New York really has all 4 seasons. It’s possible to be hot and muggy or downright freezing. Your clothes should reflect the current season and if you’re traveling from a warm city, make the investment for cold weather gear like a hat, beanie, gloves, boots, pea-coats, jackets and a scarf.
Winter is all about layering and staying warm so I wouldn’t worry about the colors since you will be bundled up with a dark jacket on top. Black is kind in winter with tons of grey and wearing jeans. It’s an easy go to look that also hides the dirt of the city.
I would think about buying some winter boots or maybe hiking boots when it’s snowing. New York can be quite dirty and if it’s snowing, bring the boots you least care about. Invest in a unique scarf as this really adds something to the overall look. Typically girls like a more girly scarf while men like a more structured and un-colorful scarf.
New York isn’t Paris and I see many different styles on the streets including black pea-coats, American jean jackets, long trench-coats and even NorthFace jackets. If you want to look stylish, lean on styles that are more form-fitting and cut with your body. Americans, both men and women, tend to favor the saggy sweaters and the huge NorthFace jackets. Forget those. Even NorthFace has form-fitting jackets that are both stylish for men and women.
Spring temperatures can swing from hot to cold quickly, so I would pack a combo of winter and summer clothes. Most men and women wear combos of shades of browns, blues, blacks, reds, greens and grays with perhaps a colorful scarf. If it’s warm enough forget the scarf and just wear a stylish jacket with some jeans and boots. If it’s really warm maybe think about short sleeves, although this can be risky as it is sometimes breezy, especially Manhattan.
Sometimes you can wear shorts so I recommend packing those. T-shirts and a pair of jeans are popular among men and women and so are tennis shoes. However, I would recommend staying away from those unless you plan to workout or jog. Find neutral colors with a small amount of bright colors to add some depth to the outfit. Keep it form-fitting with a touch of American prepness.
Summer, a range of outfits are seen, from as bad as sofie shorts and sweats to dress shirts to nice pants, dresses and dress shirts (mostly for the men and women who work downtown). In general this is the American look but it’s not something to strive for, especially when visiting. It can be surprisingly warm in New York so my suggestion is to wear light-colored clothing, like light blues and whites. Stay away from black if possible although black is always a go to, especially at night. People are pretty dressy at night and if you plan on going out make sure to pack dresses, heels, etc for women and blazers, slacks or nice jeans, nice shirts for men.
For pants it is acceptable to wear a pair of jeans, fitted t-shirts or blouses, and wear comfortable casual boots or shoes. Try to stay away from sandals and tennis shoes! Walking around New York is exhausting and sandals tend to make your feet hurt after a while. Tennis shoes are worn often but they aren’t too stylish. Mix in some colors to your outfit through your handbag or add an accessory like a bracelet or watch. There is no ideal look for New York but make your look your own with some style.
In basic it’s best to keep it comfortable and easy to wear. I don’t recommend wearing any type of athletic wear or over-sized collegiate shirts or anything too flashy.
Fall can be quite pleasant in New York where warm weather is usually rare as well cold weather. It’s usually recommended to bring some sort of jacket, blazer, coat as daytime can turn cold and breezy. Everybody tends to switch to darker colors in the fall and boots become more popular as well as heels. My personal favorite for both men and women are a good pair of leather riding boots.
Like the rest of the United States, the popular colors tend to be browns, blacks, blues, and grays. I think muted tones look great in the fall and you can always add a flash of color with an accessory to make your outfit pop (oranges, reds, and greens). Just walking around New York can be hot so wear outfits where it’s easy to shed clothing.
New York City is truly a mixed bag when it comes to style and fashion. You’ll find all types and you’ll find really bad looks to really great looks. Because New York is still the United States, there is a lot of frumpy looks. Your style, no matter what it is, should always be fitted and tailored to your body. This includes jeans, dresses, shirts, and t-shirts.
The most popular looks tend to be the classic American look with a touch of preppiness. In recent years plaid t-shirts, dark jeans, skinny ties, suits, heavy jackets, blazers, and polos are very popular with men. Women have more options but fitted dark jeans are also popular as well as skirts, dresses, graphic shirts, scarves, lots of patterns, and lots of color.
At the end of day the average New Yorker likes to be comfortable and walking around the city all day, you need to have a style that will hold up. Aim for a smart style that will also not be uncomfortable to wear.
Look New York?
I would search stores like
- Calvin Klein
- Hugo Boss
- J. Crew
- Banana Republic
- American Eagle
- Urban Outfitters
- Neiman Marcus
- Ralph Lauren
- Louis Vuitton
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Banana Republic
to name a few. My recommendation is to stick with neutral, white to dark colors for things like t-shirts and pants and add the color with a scarf, or other accessory or with your shoes, especially in the winter. When in doubt just go with dark on the bottom and lighter colors for shirts, etc.
Compared to European men, American men do not favor the metro-sexual look so you may stand out if you like it. However there are a few men who really do know how to put a modern yet handsome look together.
New York City has a more business like atmosphere so there is nothing wrong with wearing ties, suits, blazers and dress pants. You’ll see many men and women dressed in that attire.
My recommendation is to find clothing that fits nicely on your body and to bundle up during the winter. Most travelers come during the summer when the weather is a perfect temperature to wear dress shirts and jeans by day and then sometimes pop on a light jacket at night. However winter in New York is popular and make sure you bring some winter gear. For women it may be harder to wear high-heels all day so I recommend only at night when you go out. Shorts and jeans are acceptable for women as well as a stylish top.
If traveling to New York City, stick with whatever style suits you the best, just make sure it fits properly. For a general look, you could never go wrong with an American classic look and put a spin on it. Lately the trend has been to wear dark jeans paired with boots or high heels, skirts, dresses, dress pants, shirts and a fitted graphic t-shirt for both sexes. In winter make sure to wear accessories like a scarf with a well fitted jacket.
What to wear in New York? Basically keep your style fresh, easy-going, modern or classic, and above all stylish… it will keep you “New York” no matter your style. New York has some pretense and style is a way to express individuality while walking this concrete jungle.
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