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In this guide, you’ll see what to wear in New York in December, January, February, and all winter long.
What to Wear in New York in Winter
How can you walk around outside during the winter when it’s so cold or when it’s snowing?! It’s what my non-New York family and friends always ask when the thermometer dips below those comfy fall temperatures.
The answer is simple whether you’re a local like me or visiting to experience Christmas in New York. How to dress like a New Yorker in winter is all about the right layers and winter gear.
The biggest mistake NYC visitors make is thinking it’s ok to dress the same as at home where many people run from their warm house to a warmed up car to a heated indoor place, be it work, school, or a shopping mall. What to wear in New York in January and throughout the winter is all about blending high-performance against the cold and, of course, city-chic fashion!
Aside from the specific clothing recommendations listed below, what to wear in NYC in winter depends on the weather. Seems obvious, I know. But, will the days for your NYC visit be 48° and sunny or 15° with windy snow showers?
The bottom line is the weather forecast matters more than the month on the calendar no matter when you visit New York City.
Winter New York Packing List
When the weather is frigid, New York winter outfits need a base layer. The tic-tac-toe layout of the streets creates wind tunnels that cut through even the coziest of sweaters. Your what to pack for New York list should also take into account your own personal tolerance to the cold. So, if you’re sensitive to it, it’s better to be prepared with the right NYC winter clothes than let the chilly air leave you unable to enjoy all New York City has to offer.
- Thermals can stop a chilly wind from getting to your skin. Even an Omni-heat top is better than just a basic long-sleeved tee when it comes to insulating yourself.
- Fleece-lined tights are perfect for those winter nights when you wear a skirt or dress. I’ve even worn them under jeans.
ProTip: Sierra Trading Post is a great way to find winter base layers for less. They specialize in closeout deals for many popular brands so it can be hit or miss. But, it’s where I’ve found some of my favorite winter base layers over the years.
NYC Winter Outfits:
For daytime sightseeing and walking, jeans and fleece-lined leggings work well. Think darker jeans like black, gray, or even a color like a magenta or plum over lighter colors or anything in the tan/khaki family. New York City is really good about removing snow from sidewalks. But, NYC always comes with a level of dirt that’s only magnified with all the sand and slush of winter. Lighter color bottoms will show anything and everything that splatters onto your legs as you walk.
You also want to make sure you have warm sweaters and fleeces with layers underneath. That thin off-the-shoulder sweater might be perfect back home, but it just won’t cut it walking around NYC for hours in the cold.
- My favorite fleece is great as a fall and spring jacket and a perfect layer under a winter jacket.
- Longer sweaters help keep your legs toasty. And, because these sweaters can be worn with both jeans and leggings, they are versatile and handy for packing fewer things.
- Another thing to keep in mind as you think about packing for New York is that many places (museums, restaurants, shops) are overheated. For this reason, cardigan sweaters and other open-style sweaters make it easy to adjust your layers if you’re too warm inside.
Boots for a New York Winter:
What shoes to wear in New York for winter could be the most important item on your NYC packing list. New York winter shoes are warm, waterproof, and walkable with a good grip.
If it’s snowed and the temperature has gone back and forth from below and above the freezing mark, there will be slushy puddles off the curb of most sidewalks and surprise patches of ice. In these cases, NYC snow boots with sturdy gripping soles can make all the difference between staying on your feet and not.
Not to mention, if it does snow while you’re in NYC, you don’t want to miss walking through Central Park!
Keep in mind though, shoes for NYC in winter aren’t always clunky snow boots. After all, they can be heavy to walk around in especially if you’re not used to doing that. It’s important to check the weather for your trip and know that most snowfalls melt quickly on the warm city streets.
- I walk around NYC in these boots or these boots for much of the winter. They’re both great for cold and wintry city conditions like snow, slushy puddles, and ice. Other best shoes that I’ve loved for the New York winter are these Sperry’s or these Columbia’s. Both are known for their comfort and weather toughness.
- Sneakers aren’t warm enough for full-days out and about in the New York City winter. Not to mention, they won’t keep your feet dry in the rain, sleet, and snow. But, I love these stylish winter shoes or these cozy shoes are a nice compromise, especially if you have sunny and crisp winter days in NYC.
- Tall, riding-style boots with low or flat heels are a great way to look more dressed up and add another layer of warmth and protection for your legs. These types of boots, though, tend not to be waterproof so it’s a good idea to add a waterproofing treatment before walking around NYC in the winter.
Best Winter Coats for NYC:
When thinking about how to dress in New York for the winter, the coat you choose can make a huge difference in managing the cold and not. Many New Yorkers wear longer coats versus a winter jacket that stops at the waist. A jacket must have wind protection, as well as the ability to keep you warm and dry. While I do have and love my longer pea coat, I wear my hooded, insulated winter coat much more often.
- Columbia Jackets and winter gear are some of my favorite everyday and travel wear. Their Omni-heat technology is great for keeping your warm and keeping down the bulk of a typical puffer-style coat. You can even find high-performance coats for those non-frigid days that’ll be lighter-weight but still great on cold days with the right layers underneath.
- This North Face jacket can handle it all, rain, snow, sleet, wind. You’ll be cozy and smiling in all of your NYC photos! Not to mention with 5 pockets, there’s plenty of space to hold your phone and other essentials.
- Jackets for a New York winter don’t sacrifice fashion for function, either. These bestselling winter coats can be a great way to compare styles and have you looking your best.
Winter Outerwear for New York City:
And, of course, your New York essentials have to include something to protect your ears, hands, neck, and face. No New York winter packing list would be complete with them!
- Don’t be one of those NYC visitors with bright red ears shivering while trying to enjoy the holiday department store windows or the Rockefeller tree. Wear a hat like this or like that or a fleece ear band, whichever you like most. But, make sure you’re ears and head are warm.
- Pockets are good. Gloves and mittens will be even better when you’re holding a warm cup of hot chocolate at one of the holiday markets or ice skating in Central Park.
- Scarves block the chill from getting to your neck and into your winter coat and are super helpful when the wind blows and you need to cover your face. I don’t go a single day in the winter without wearing a scarf!
New York City sparkles in winter, especially during the December holiday season. Dressing for New York in winter takes a little bit of planning but comes with the upside of an unforgettable trip!
So, what’s on your NYC winter travel packing list?
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