When it comes to an urban adventure, you can't beat New York City. Museums, shopping, food, nightlife—you're really spoilt for choice. But with so many things to do and see in the city, how do you decide what to pack? We've got you. Read on for our New York City Style Guide.
NYC packing basics
3 things to know when packing for New York
1. New York City is notorious for its weather changes.
It can be hot one day and freezing the next. Start with a base of easy, everyday pieces like comfortable jeans, wearable tops, and a skirt. You can then add a few items or swap things out based on the time of year.
2. Comfortable shoes are a must.
New York is a walking city with cobblestones, cracked and uneven sidewalks, and plenty of subways stairs to navigate. Avoid uncomfortable shoes that create blisters or that you can't walk around in—instead, opt for comfy flats, sneakers, durable boots, or sandals that either have a bit of a platform or support (to give your soles some lift off the city sidewalks). Save the heels for evening or when you know you'll be taking a cab.
3. Avoid overly casual clothing.
Compared to the rest of the United States, people in New York City tend to dress up more. To feel more like a local when at museums, restaurants, and out and about, avoid overly casual clothing such as short-shorts, sweatpants, or paper-thin tissue T-shirts. Instead, choose pieces that are slightly more structured and formal, but still comfortable and stylish.
What to wear in NYC in Spring
Spring in New York City means chilly mornings and evenings that are even colder. But it's worth it—there's nothing prettier than a view of colorful tulips with a background of yellow taxi cabs and soaring skyscrapers. Wondering what to wear when it's 60 degrees outside in New York City? The mild daytime temperatures mean you can easily get away with wearing your normal spring staples, but you'll also want to add a few layering items:
Packing for Summer in NYC
It's no secret that summer days in New York City can be unbearable if you're not wearing the right lightweight clothing—but you still want to stay stylish. A summer day in New York City can soar to 90 degrees, so breathable fabrics are key. Here, swap out your normal packing list full of jeans for a winning combination of shorts and one-and-done dresses.
- 1 pair of shorts
- 2 breezy dresses
- 2 pair of lightweight pants (think: linen or cotton)
- 3 tops (think: silk, linen, and cotton)
- 1 pair of walking shoes (mix and match sneakers, flats or booties based on preference)
- Your favorite handbag and accessories
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 pair of sunglasses
Packing for NYC in the Fall
With the crisp air and stunning fall foliage in Central Park, fall is one of the best times to visit New York City. Keep your essential packing list items and add a few pieces in for colder nights and mornings. Be creative with dressing here. You can layer sweaters over tops and even some dresses to create warm layers that look extra luxe, too. While days might hover around 50 degrees, nights can fall to the chilly 30s.
Stylish NYC winter packing list
It's one of the most magical times of the year in New York City during these cooler months, but it's also windy, snowy, rainy, and chilly. Start from your essential packing list and home in on warm, cozy pieces. Layer, layer, and layer again, because New York temperatures can drop as low as the 20s during the day. Your secret style weapon? The lightweight turtleneck, which makes just as much as a style statement under a dress as it does when paired with a V-neck sweater.
What to do in New York City
You've got your outfits sorted, so here's how to make the most of your time in the Big Apple.
When in New York City, you'll want to spend at least one day perusing the museums. Take inspiration from the colorful artwork and mix and match prints in the form of a dress and fun bag. Start uptown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for a mix of classic and contemporary pieces spanning over 5,000 years—if you're traveling from late spring though early fall, you might get lucky and be able to see the museum's annual fashion exhibition. Head down through Central Park to check out the Museum of Arts and Design, a niche gem of a museum focused on design history. (If you're in need of a shopping hit, Nordstrom's New York City flagship, which offers Nordstrom Trunk Club personal styling, is just steps away.) And of course, the recently renovated MoMA is equally as impressive for its architecture as it is for its modern art.
A city stroll
For a bit of a different take on the New York City art scene, head downtown to Chelsea's gallery district. Choose a comfortable pair of jeans and pretty blouse paired with your favorite walking shoes for a stroll around the neighborhood. You can start at the renowned David Zwirner gallery, and walk along the High Line, the elevated linear park that stretches across the neighborhood. Chelsea Market is a must-see food hall full of everything from live lobsters to a taco shack and is right near the High Line.
Fun with the little ones
New York City has also opened more and more spaces that are kid-friendly and interesting for adults—and quite a few of them are in Soho (which also happens to be a prime shopping spot). Sloomoo is an interactive exhibition focused on slime, while the Museum of Ice Cream has everything from a massive slide to ice-cream taste testings. Color Factory, another interactive locale, gives kids (and adults) the chance to explore their creative side. Since you'll likely be getting hands-on with activities—or chasing after the kids—opt for a nice pair of jeans, a loose-fitting top, and cool sneakers or flats for the outing.
A dinner to remember
The Flatiron neighborhood is home to some of the city's best restaurants. Cosme (named one of the world's 50 best restaurants last year) is Chef Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes' inventive take on Mexican food. The famed Eleven Madison Park is also nearby, as is Cote, a local favorite for Korean-style dry-aged steaks. When choosing your outfit for dinner, experiment with layering to add contrast and volume for a night out. If it's winter, style a printed turtleneck under your favorite sweater and wool pants. During summer, day dresses can be easily updated for the evening with statement accessories and heels.