What to Wear in New York: Fashion & Practicality (2023) + NYC Packing List

As a born-and-raised New Yorker with a love for style, comfort, practicality, these are my insider tips on how to curate the perfect NYC packing list. From travel must-haves to fashion essentials, here’s everything you need to know before you go. Let’s create an NYC wardrobe that’s not only functional but also cute, so you can confidentially conquer my beloved city in true New York fashion.

New York Fashion

One of New York’s most well-known claims to fame is its status as a global fashion capital. So it is one of the best places in the world to express yourself creatively through clothes. Here in NYC, you can be your most vibrant and unique self. From festivals and artistic events to the famous bi-annual New York Fashion Week, it’s not hard to see why.

However, in this sprawling city, you’ll NEED comfort and practicality woven into your outfits. That’s because in NYC, we walk A LOT. In fact, it’s the most walkable city in the country. So you’ll see even celebrities walking/taking the train here because it’s so easy (but also to avoid traffic).

While New York City fashion can be anything you want it to be, there are also a lot of new cute trends I’m loving and will be sharing below.

Weather in NYC

  • Summer: Muggy and hot. The weather can oscillate in extremes between spicy sunny days to thunder tropical storms. Bring an umbrella, a subway shirt, and breathable clothing. The humidity is the worst part of summer in NYC.
  • Winter: Honestly, our winters aren’t that serious anymore. Sadly, we didn’t even get a snow day this winter. Which pales in comparison to my childhood here where we’d get several snow days and the city would be forced to pause. But there are the few days in January and February that drop below freezing. So definitely bring a bubble coat, hat, and gloves.
  • Fall/Spring: These are the most glorious times to be in NYC. The humidity drops, the air goes crisp, and it’s warm enough to wear cute layers and enjoy the outdoors.

What to Wear in New York: Fashion Trends & Practicality Tips

1. Subway Shirt (Loose Button-Up Blouse)

This is a practical essential. In the summer, women in NYC wear what we jokingly call a “subway shirt”. This is usually a loose button-up shirt. It’s particularly useful when taking public transportation to avoid unwanted attention from crazy or creepy men. And also because this way you have some warmth from the blasting AC and your skin isn’t touching the backseat of the train.

Fashion-wise, in the summer, we love a cute white linen button-up like this one. For a budget option, I own this linen white dupe from Amazon! And for a colorful alternative, I also own this Anthropology button up in light rose/pink. It goes perfect over a crop top + mini skirt. Or those cute tennis mini dresses like this one.

Other than being a classically chic staple in anyone’s wardrobe, the button-up can easily be thrown over most outfits. It’s not just for the subway/train. You might also need it when entering chilly air-conditioned museums, galleries, and indoor restaurants.

So, when packing for your next NYC adventure (summer/fall/spring), definitely toss your favorite big, blousy button-up in your suitcase for both style and practicality!

2. Black Leather Jacket

In NYC, leather is timeless! A black leather jacket like this Reformation one, can be a great layering piece for navigating the city’s constantly changing climate. It’s thick enough to keep you warm on a cloudy, breezy day, yet light enough to allow you to comfortably meander through neighborhoods without getting too hot on more sunny ones. This is perfect for fall in NYC!

For colder weather, a cashmere + leather sleeve coat like this All Saints one can easily be worn up or down.

  • Down: with jeans and white sneakers for an effortlessly cool look during a day of museum hopping.
  • Up: Then, in the evening, it can be paired with sleek black pants or skirt for an evening of bar hopping. 

3. Stylish & Comfortable Walking Sneakers

Sneakers are in. Everyone wears them everywhere, even to the club. But especially in NYC, where it is absolutely crucial to be able to walk to enjoy as much of the city as possible with ease. However, if you want to channel both the stylish and pragmatic nature of the city with your sneakers, opt for a cute yet comfortable pair.

Many New Yorkers tend to go the traditional white sneaker route because, no matter how worn-in they may get, they will always be a versatile closet staple and will likely never go out of style. The most popular styles right now are:

  • On Cloud : While I don’t like these for working out, I think they’re GREAT for walking in comfortable style! I rock these in white and this pair in black/rose.
  • Veja: I feel like these are kind of overdone at this point. especially because that V logo is so big. But maybe there are some newer styles that you can still rock!
  • Reebok Classics: This is the 2023 white fitness shoe. All the cool fitness kids are wearing them.
  • Ultra Boost Adidas: These were HUGE in 2022, so you might get them on sale now!
  • Everlane Trainers: More elegant and less sporty look. But not as comfortable in my opinion!
  • Nike Airforce Ones: Everyone and their moms is wearing these. I think they’re giving teenager/baby Gen-Z that’s still figuring out their style so they caved into the trend of these Nike sneakers that are actually really heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable.
  • Nike high tops: Way more comfortable, a traditional New York sneaker, and always timeless.
  • Dr. Scholls : This is ALL THE RAVE right now. Everyone swears by how comfortable yet cute the Time Off Lace Up sneakers are. I love the platform height they have, too. I have ordered them but there is a long waitlist so I will report once my pair arrives!

My favorites: These white + rose pink On sneakers look amazing with both casual and cute outfits (I wear them constantly because they go with EVERYTHING). But you can also get the same style in green and other not-as-femme colors.

If you prefer non-white shoes, I recommend these black + champagne rose On Sneakers as sporty walking shoes. I saw Amber Heard stylishly rocking them in Spain!

4. Cute Backpack (Book Bag)

Remember, most of us don’t drive in NYC! So you can’t just “leave things in the car” here. You need to carry everything with you. Your water bottle, phone, keys, wallet, umbrella, pills, book, camera, sanitizer, etc. So where do you put it all? We carry backpacks! (Or tote bags listed below at #17)

  • Dagne Dover : If you’re looking for the perfect utilitarian yet style-conscious carry-all for an on-the-go trip to NYC, then check out this cute and practical backpack. I use this for my flights too, because my laptop and camera fit. It’s gorgeous, doesn’t get dirty in black, and practical with its many compartments.
  • Urban Outfitters: For something less sporty and more femme, this cute backpack can be used for both outdoors and nicer indoor spaces. Plus, pink is now all the rave since the new Barbie came out. And ya know what? I’m all for us reclaiming pink in fashion!
  • Or, if you still can’t fathom pink but want some pop, this one is both fashionable, black, and practical.

Further, when you choose a backpack of your preferred size, shape, and color, it can also enhance any casual city-going outfit that you wear to see the sites, and keep you looking both effortlessly cool and practical. 

5. Compact Umbrella

Did you know that New York City gets more rain than Seattle? And as previously mentioned, New York’s weather patterns are constantly changing. So, to avoid getting caught in sudden rain storms, pack a lightweight, compact umbrella.

With these options, you’ll be prepared for our Atlantic rainstorms while walking around NYC! 

6. Long Denim Skirt (Spring, Summer, Fall)

I was in denial about this one for a long time. Jean skirts are back?! But hear me out. Denim skirts like this one can go with so much! And they accentuate our hips! You can throw on a cute tank top in the summer. Or wear the jean skirt with boots in the fall. That means you can get a couple outfits out of this one, just like jean pants. On top, of that this is an April through November staple. I’ll take it! My favorite is this one from Abercrombie. Please note that it runs small on the waist, so I sized up.

7. Chunky Hoop Earrings (Gold or Silver)

As natural statement-makers, New Yorkers are prone to wearing eye-catching jewelry. Perhaps the biggest jewelry fashion trend sweeping NYC at the moment is chunky hoop earrings. So, if you want to elevate your outfits in NYC, throw on a pair of oversized hoops in gold or silver like these. Hoops will quickly take any casual day outfit, such as a tank, blue jeans, and sneakers, and transform it into one fit for NYC’s dynamic nightlife scene. 

8. Silk Slip Dress (Year-round)

Hear me out; this is a year-round dress. In the winter, you can wear a silk slip dress with an open or closed sweater. During the shoulder seasons, you can layer the silk slip dress. And in the summer you can wear a silk slip dress as is. The possibilities are endless with this simple, elegant, and sexy dress. I love the Quince silk slip dresses; they’re high quality and at amazing prices. You can get them in knee or thigh/mini lengths. For an even cheaper option? Target has great ones for just $20! And for the fanciest version, check out Cami NYC’s raven dress (but I think Qiunce rivals them at a fraction of the price).

9. Satin Everything

Following the silk revival, satin is also growing in popularity. As a tank top, shorts, trousers, and even cute skirts! And like silk slip dresses, these can be dressed for every season! I adore these from Abercrombie:

10. Trendy Sunglasses

Of course, sunglasses are necessary for any destination. However, us New Yorkers tend to have a bit more fun with our sunglasses. Although the most worn color in the city’s wardrobe is black, many choose to sport the trendier sunglasses from the most recent runways or social media fashion movements.

We love the cat eye sunglasses fashion trend in NYC like these YSL. Sleek and stylish. The 90s fashion trends coming back include these oval Matrix-style sunglasses which I got for just $13! Sheesh. But also, here are a few more options pictured above:

11. Leather Boots

Even though flat ankle booties are out (see: cheugy), boots remains an essential New York shoe. For more comfortable, casual options many city-goers tend to prefer leather chunky Chelsea boots or Dr. Martens 1460s. 

On the other hand, for nicer events or grabbing drinks on the weekend, square-heeled leather boots are also the way to go. Dress them up for a nice dinner or a show with black jeans, a blouse, and a blazer, or dress them down for brunch or a museum visit with blue jeans, a white button-down, and a leather jacket. We’re also loving them in white. White leather is making a beautiful come back in boots and purses!

12. Chunky Sandals

Chunky sandals are cute and stylish! They also go perfectly with the bourgeoning fashion trend of straight/wide leg pants. They’re also comfortable for strolling around the Big Apple in the summertime. Needless to say, they will also you far more support than a flat sandal while taking any dainty summer dress or pants to the next level.

For the ultimate sandal statement, go for a platform style like these Timberland sandals, or for a slightly more subdued look, opt for the classic lug sole gladiator sandals from Dr. Martens. From day to night, these sandals will keep your feeling comfortable, and your outfit looking New York-cool. 

13. Rain Boots

Did you know that it rains more in NYC than in Seattle? So you cannot let the rain stop you from getting out and about comfortably. Consider a chic pair of boots like these gorgeous Everlane chelsea rainboots which are compact, comfortable, and go with everything.

If, on the other hand, you want to opt for a trendier and more contemporary appearance, consider these black chunky Chelsea boots or these sleek heeled boots by Chloe.

14. Puffer Coat (Winter)

If you’re venturing to New York in the winter, then having a warm and reliable puffer coat is absolutely essential for braving the cold streets. Luckily, the puffer is another timeless NYC fashion’s piece, so there are near-endless fashionable varieties of these coats, without making you look like a marshmallow.

Perhaps the most on-trend style of puffer in the city right now is the cropped iteration, such as this one, which can be seen on many New Yorkers in a variety of bright colors. Some opt for longer styles, such as this gorgeous knee-length version, in an elegant winter white.

15. Straight Leg, Barrel, or Baggy Pants

Most New Yorkers have ditched their skinny jeans and replaced them with either classic straight-leg, cargo, or other baggy pants. Not only are they super comfortable as you make your way around the city, but they can then be easily dressed up in the evening with platform sandals or shoes. Most often, New Yorkers opt for beige or classic black, in addition to ultra-versatile brown and khaki colors. In the summer, linen pants like these are perfect for visiting beaches in NYC or taking day trips to Long Island beachtowns

15. Crossbody & Shoulder Bags

Aside from the canvas tote bag, another useful bag for your New York packing list may be a crossbody or fanny bag. In any big, fast-paced city, keeping your belongings as close to you as possible is important; New York is no exception. When New Yorkers are off the clock, many choose the uber-minimal route of using just their pockets or a small crossbody bag.

So many local New Yorkers carry sleek black leather bags like this Oak & Fort for increased versatility and durability, but some choose more vibrant options like this beaded citrus one. Regardless of color, shape, or material, a crossbody bag is a great and fashionable option for keeping all of your belongings secure during your stay in NYC. 

If you’re vegan, these cactus leather bags are all the rage right now! They are gorgeous.

16. Athleisure

Athleisure has become an important part of nearly everyone’s wardrobe over the past few years, but especially for us New Yorkers who are constantly on the move. We love biking, work out classes, hanging out in the park, and running! And even for our day trips from NYC to nearby hiking trails.

These Nike socks are also all the rage right now. They provide an incredibly comfortable cushioning, so I never want to take them off! I also love this Lululemon cropped sweater which accentuates your waist. These bras at the Girl Friend Collective provide lots of support while being smooth and gorgeous. And we’re all obsessed right now with the tennis skirts and dresses. I got this dupe for just $30! Also, don’t miss the body suits. I got this one off Amazon for just $25!

The most popular brands for cute athleisure include Lululemon, Alo Yoga, and Girlfriend Collective; perfect for a training session at one of the city’s famed Barry’s Bootcamp, Soul Cycle, Pilates Reformers, or Rumble Boxing, and then grabbing brunch with friends after.

17. Black Pants or Jeans (Fall/Winter)

There’s no doubt that classic black pants are a staple garment for New York City nightlife. Most New Yorkers heading out for drinks or dinner on the weekends tend to do so in a pair of black pants or jeans like these.

It doesn’t matter what style they are or if they’re distressed or not, black pants/jeans take any ensemble, and turn it into one fit for the downtown bar, restaurant, or theater scene. Wear with black boots or platform sandals for a more comfortable, yet still stylish look. Or pair them with black heels for a sleek and formal approach.

18. Trench Coat (Spring/Fall)

A timeless fashion basic, the trench coat is also a staple of New York dressing in the fall and spring. If you are in NYC during one of these seasons, pack a trench to stay comfortable and look fashionable. Many New Yorkers favor a classic beige gabardine style, such as this trench by Everlane but for a more modern twist, consider this fabric-like gorgeous trench by Mackage. For spring in NYC, check out this colorful trench coat by Olivia Ruben. All of these allow for layering during shoulder seasons.

19. Canvas Tote Bag

Last, but not least is one of the most important accessories for us New Yorkers: the canvas tote bag. Simple, practical, and often inexpensive, this seemingly mundane bag can be seen on the arms of those in all five boroughs. That’s because the canvas tote is for all of your own personal items that you might need for a day out and about, it will also act as a perfect, eco-friendly vessel for all of NYC purchases and practical goods.

Remember, we don’t have cars here, so you must carry everything you need throughout the day. That means your water bottle, umbrella, makeup, etc., go into your canvas tote without the heavy weight a bulky leather purse would add to your shoulders. Best of all? You can fold it into a tiny square in your luggage or purse.

Needless to say, New York is a city full of individualistic, creative personalities who often express their identities through their clothing. So, when packing for your trip, remember to, most of all, have fun and bring what makes you feel like you. Naturally, there are a few staple pieces that most every New Yorker likely owns and uses on a regular basis. Ultimately, in order to get the most out of your stay and fully embrace the independent, free-thinking New York spirit, be sure to wear what makes you feel your very best. Below, you can find a packing list featuring some signature New York pieces to kick start your packing list.


  • White and black colors matched together, especially in leather
  • Canvas leather for vegans
  • White leather boots and purses
  • Leather jackets (elegant style not the motorcycle type)
  • Chunky everything. Chunky boots, hoops, sandals, pants, etc.
  • Wide-legged or straight legged pants/jeans. This includes cargos.
  • Long jean skirts, but we’re still in denial about this one.
  • Crossbody soft-fabric fannys
  • Cat-eyed sunglasses and the 90s matrix ones
  • White sneakers
  • Nike ankle-knee length socks
  • Silver everything. Silver purses, silver jewerly, silver umbrellas. Including that iridescent silver, too. Gold is still in, but silver is making a comeback for those who can rock it (ahem, minority of cool-toned people).
  • Mixing metals (silver + gold jewerly)
  • Linen pants, shirts, and dresses in the summer
  • Silk dresses and skirts
  • Wearing whatever you love! Especially if it is authentically and uniquely you!


  • Leather boots
  • Rainboots
  • Black pants
  • Canvas tote bags
  • Trench coats
  • Athleisure
  • Cute backpacks
  • Linen in the summer

NYC Packing List for Every Season

City fashion is different. It’s cute but it NEEDS to be practical and comfortable. Here’s the NYC packing list that combines both:

SUMMER NYC Packing List:


FALL NYC Packing List:

WINTER NYC Packing List

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