New Yorkers have access to the latest clothing from every designer on the planet, and denizens of the five boroughs create hot trends as well as wearing them. If you’re in the Big Apple on vacation, or for a wedding or other social event, you want to look your best. If you’re there for more mundane purposes, such as a business trip, you still want to fit in. You can depend on a few style tips to look like you stroll down Fifth Avenue every day. No matter the season or event, leave your Hawaiian shirt, mom or dad jeans, and white sneakers at home.
If you’re visiting, you want to be comfortable, so pack the clothes you usually wear — as long as they fit impeccably. While students at NYU in Greenwich Village might be happy wearing baggy or too-tight thrift shop finds, the New Yorkers going to work, having lunch and checking out the latest museum exhibits generally wear well-fitting clothes. Stay au courant with cuts and styles, meaning no pleated pants, baggy polyester-blend sweatshirts or, heaven forbid, socks with sandals. In hot weather, go with slim-cut walking shorts instead of cutoff jeans, hot pants or gym shorts. New York can get very hot, but if you wear a tank top or sleeveless shirt, bring a sweater or light pullover, or you’ll freeze in air-conditioned buildings.
No, it’s not just a cliche — New Yorkers like to wear black, and lots of it. Unless you are attending a gala or wedding, you cannot go wrong with a black T-shirt and dark blue jeans during the day. If you’re going to the museum, riding on the Circle Line or going to lunch uptown, make the jeans black and add a black blazer or sport coat. Women might make the T-shirt more glitzy, and men could wear a madras button-down. In winter, a big, black knit sweater over your jeans shows some NY chic. For dressier occasions, a basic black dress gives women a classic look, and a little black dress helps you stand out. Guys can’t go wrong with a slim-cut dark suit, white shirt and skinny tie. If you’ll be strolling around in frigid weather, a black puffer coat will help you fit right in with thousands, possibly millions, of New Yorkers.
When you’re going to New York for a special event like a wedding and you have some extra time and money, you might wait until you get there to buy the perfect dress or suit. After all, Macy’s at Herald Square and the stores on Fifth Avenue, such as Saks, Bergdorf-Goodman and Dolce & Gabbana, sell the latest styles with more variety than you’ll find at home. For funkier fashions, walk through Greenwich Village and down into SoHo. If you don’t have time, or you need to bring clothes for other dressy events, keep it simple. Buy a new dress or suit for the special celebration; for other commitments, women can bring a basic black or solid-color pencil skirt, dressy white blouse, and blazer or embellished cardigan, and men a couple of basic oxford shirts, dress pants and a sport coat.
Unless you have a chauffeur, you will be doing a lot of walking. Focus on comfort, and save the heels for events where you won’t have go far. Don’t wait until you get to Manhattan to break in a pair of shoes, or you may end up with blisters. The streets and sidewalks can get gritty, so save flimsy flip-flops for the beach. Sturdier leather or sport sandals work in summer. Dark loafers for men and black flats for women work most of the time. You can’t go wrong with boots — especially black ones — any season in New York. Big Apple favorites include biker-style and over-the-knee boots, and the Uggs beloved by celebs. These all have the added benefit of keeping you warm if an Arctic blast comes along. If you’re only happy wearing sneakers, keep them classy and leave your old, ripped, dirty or ratty sneakers home to wear in the garden. The latest sneaker styles focus on color and cool designs, and, of course, you can always turn to black sneakers with a bit of embellishment.
References and ResourcesTrip Advisor: New York City Travel Forum, What to Wear or How to Not Look Too Much Like a Tourist?
Teen Vogue: How to Dress Like a New Yorker: 5 Outfits Made for Cool City Girls
Glamour: What Glamour Editors Wore to New York Fashion Week
Macy's: Macy's Herald Square
Visit 5th Avenue
Fodor's: Fodor's Approved: 15 Most Stylish Women's Shoes for Travel
The Fashion Tag: Puffer Jackets Are Cool. Really?
Marie Claire: Shoe Trend: The Sneaker
GQ: Street Style