What to Wear During the Winter in New York?

by Sarah York

Dressing for a New York winter means balancing style and practicality. Aim for protection first and keep fashion to the details. Avoid senseless items like summer skirts or stilettos. Winters can be harsh in the Big Apple, from freezing dry winds to rain and heavy snow. Most commuters are too hurried to notice others' style. From your outerwear to your inner wear, plan for layered comfort.

Outerwear

Expect slippery conditions and ice. Choose footwear with treads or gripping soles. For bad weather, invest in a pair of warmly lined, waterproof boots. These can be stylish and sleek or cheap and effective. Select some tall enough to keep out snow and slush. Carry indoor shoes in a tote or bag. On mild days, many New Yorkers wear regular shoes or boots. Avoid heels like platforms that risk a fall, sprain or wet feet. Use protective spray on leather, suede and fabrics that are damaged by salt.

You must wear a warm coat. Parkas and down jackets offer thermal protection against blizzards, heavy winds and chill. They now also have waistlines and decorative trim. The warmest coats extend below the waist. Use an insular-lined coat or thick pea coat for most days. You need not wear costly pieces or obey the notorious New York preference for black. Gotham is famous for its vintage and secondhand stores. Browse them for warm jackets in varied colors and styles at low cost. Add an ample scarf, thick gloves and woolen hat for the driest winter protection.

Get creative with your accessories. They need not match perfectly in such a trendy and contemporary city. Jazz up bulky coats with bright mittens or patterned hats. Turn plain into professional with an elegant scarf set or brooch. Add drama to your design with a furry hat or jungle print bag or layer a leather jacket with a bright sweater.

Innerwear and Underwear

For inner wear, a few versatile pieces can make up a winter wardrobe suitable for any New York day. Stick to fabrics like wool, tweed or cashmere and dark colors such as black, gray and navy that retain heat. Summer hues and lighter fabrics can also brighten a drab winter and suit the playful and rebellious Big Apple style. The trick is to stay warm. Think white jeans with an orange cashmere top.

Keep a wardrobe mixed with hot and cool clothes for New York's wacky and variable weather. Cold dry air from the north, humid winds form the south, cloudy, damp influences from the lake and ocean waters, and high pressure storm influences all combine to make unusual weather in the city. Count on long, unusually cold spells.

First, buy thick tights. Wear them under skirts, dresses and jeans. Liners like long underwear and stretch pants also add heat on chilly days. Denim is especially vulnerable to the humid New York winters and can get easily wet. Second, a button-up or pinned sweater is a necessary layer, especially with cottons or silks. Third, a classic turtleneck is an indispensable staple. Finally, neutral winter bottoms such as thick slacks or skirts and a winter dress can be paired with different tops and accessories.

The Art of Layering

Weather is unpredictable in New York, so layer, layer, layer. Indoor areas are often heated. Temperatures vary throughout and between the days, with an average annual mean of 55 degrees F in the city area. Stay comfortable by mixing short and long layers. Bring an extra jacket, pullover, hoodie or toasty wrap. Layers add dimension and interest to your wardrobe. Blend patterns and textures such as tweed and polka dots, leather and wool, or stripes and faux fur. Above all, keep layers fitted. Bulky sweater coats or puffy boots are frumpy unless paired with fitted or tailored items.

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About the Author

Sarah York has been a freelance writer and editor for five years. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Danforth Review, Pisgah Review and The Renaissance of Teaching and Learning and in various online sources. She holds both a B.A. in English and M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, as well as an M.A. in Literature from Western Carolina University.