What to Pack & What to Wear in New York in the Spring

Wondering what to wear in New York in the spring? We got you. Springtime in New York — she’s an elusive gal. Will she show up mid-March, in time for the “official” start to the season? Or dip in and out of the party until late May, upon which time she can pass the baton to summer?

While we never quite know how things will pan out (Groundhog Day predictions are not an exact science), it’s good to be prepared for a wide variety of temperatures when planning what to wear in New York in spring.

But whether you set out to explore the best hidden parks and secret gardens in NYC, plan an entire trip around trying out the best happy hour spots in NYC, or dream about strolling the sidewalks on a warm spring day to find the absolute best spots for coffee in NYC, there are specific clothing items that will keep you feeling comfortable and stylish all day long — so follow along for our comprehensive guide to planning your New York packing list for spring!

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Average NYC Spring Weather

a couple enjoying a romantic visit to the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the spring

Spring temperatures vary pretty wildly in the Big Apple, and you’ll want to pay close attention to the timing of your trip as you plan your New York spring packing list.

In March, temperatures veer between approximately 36 degrees Fahrenheit (aka extended winter!) and 52 degrees Fahrenheit (crisp spring!).

In April, temperatures veer between approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

And in May, temperatures veer between approximately 54 degrees Fahrenheit and 72 degrees Fahrenheit — a far cry from March’s winter winds!

When you’re planning what to wear in NYC in spring, a reliable weather app (I think Weather Underground beats the Apple app every time) is a must, as is ditching a minimalist packing mindset — metaphorically, you’re going to need a bigger boat. 

New York Packing list for Spring


The Go-Tos for NYC Spring Dressing 

I’ve come to realize that no matter the season, dressing for New York requires layers. A lot of them.

Locals know that once you’ve left your apartment, there’s a very good chance that you’re not returning until the end of your day — and when you’re planning what to wear in NYC in spring, your day can consist of a need for multiple kinds of outfits.

The best advice I can give as you plan your NYC packing list for spring is to focus on fun outerwear — logistically, most of your time will be spent in transit, and whether you’re walking between attractions, taking the train or bus, or cabbing it to your destination, the odds are you’ll be wearing a coat of some kind.

And while there’s no shame in the game of bringing one, do-it-all outer layer, the weather may dictate that you have at least two options (prime example: my beloved leather jacket is not waterproof!). 

“But how will I manage to fit multiple bulky outer layers into my suitcase?!” you cry. I hear you. Nobody wants to have to gate-check their bag!

My advice here is two-fold: first and foremost, as you plan your packing list for NYC in spring, keep your base layers simple.

An outfit with the same outer layer — trench coat, wool button up, leather jacket et al — can look vastly different with a new t-shirt.

You can also save space on pants — if you’re short on room, pick one or two pairs of pants (jeans, trousers) and mix and match accordingly!

If you’re really stressed out about having enough clean clothes, most hotels have laundry services and you also have the option of getting the true New York Experience™ by popping over to a laundromat!

A third space-saving option as you plan what to wear in NYC in spring is to pick one set of shoes to pack. If I had to pick one, it would be a stylish sneaker — they’re both comfortable and work with nearly any outfit (you will see a lot of New York fashion girlies out and about in fairly formal outfits paired with sneakers).

If you must bring two pairs, I recommend throwing in flat shoes (Mary Jane, loafer) in your suitcase and wearing a more bulky sneaker as you travel. If it’s predicted to be cold during your trip, throw in a (comfortable!) boot instead of a sneaker!

And if things get really desperate as you assemble your packing list for NYC in spring, you can always employ my tried-and-true airport strategy — wearing multiple outer layers at once. You’ll sweat — but not over your carry-on size! 

While we’re at it, here are some of my favorite outfit layering combinations for what to wear in NYC in spring:

Spring Outfit Combo #1: Jeans + t-shirt + leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer + stylish sneakers: A New York City spring packing list essential. As long as it’s not raining, this outfit can carry you from coffee shop to cocktail hour to dance party with ease! 

Spring Outfit Combo #2: Monochromatic trousers + oversized sweater + stylish sneakers or loafer: A great option for when you’re wondering what to wear in New York in spring when it doesn’t feel like spring, but it doesn’t feel like parka season either! 

Spring Outfit Combo #3: Oversized sweater + jeans + sneaker/boot: Another combination that’s a perfect day-to-dinner look on any NYC packing list for spring — for an additional touch of trendy, I hear that layering a white crew neck t-shirt under your sweater is all the rage! 

Spring Outfit Combo #4: Midi skirt/midi/maxi dress + t-shirt +jean jacket/leather jacket/blazer/cardigan + stylish sneakers or boots: Maxi-skirts and maxi-dresses are an easily packable choice for what to wear in New York in spring – they don’t take up much room and pack a lot of sartorial punch. Add a few layers and you’re ready for changing temperatures! 

Spring Outfit Combo #5: casual pants + t-shirt + jean jacket/leather jacket/blazer/cardigan + stylish sneakers + baseball hat: On the go? Add these to your New York spring packing list for a look that’s cute and comfortable enough for major step count days (cue the Broad City challenge!)

Spring Outfit Combo #6: Long slip dress + jean jacket/leather jacket/blazer/cardigan/oversized sweater + stylish sneakers: The slip dress is the workhorse in my New York wardrobe — it’s comfortable, takes up barely any room to pack and it won’t look out of place at a diner (throw a cardigan on!) or the ballet (throw a blazer on!). Adjust your layers accordingly and you’ve nailed what to wear in New York in spring. 

Spring Outfit Combo #7: Long slip dress + crewneck sweatshirt/crewneck sweater + stylish sneakers: A slight variation on the above, the addition of a crew neck sweater adds a bit of It Girl je ne sais quoi. If you’re wondering what to wear in New York in spring to look like an off-duty model, this is it! 

Spring Outfit Combo #8: Jumpsuit (Mixed by Nasrin is a local Brooklyn desinger!) + trench coat + stylish sneakers: Another casual-chic classic for your New York packing list for spring. A jumpsuit is another aforementioned base layer that you can mix and match with lots of outerwear for different looks! 

Spring Outfit Combo #9: Monochromatic suit option 1 or option 2 + stylish sneakers/boots: While it may feel like a bit much to rock a suit all day, I can assure you that no one in New York will bat an eyelid. Add this to your NYC packing list for spring when you want to hit up the best musems in NYC before seeing a show on Broadway or the best museums in Brooklyn before seeing a show at BAM! 

Spring Outfit Combo #10: Activewear sets + jean jacket/leather jacket/blazer/cardigan/oversized sweater + stylish sneakers: Activewear makes for a great base layer in your packing list for NYC in spring — it’s versatile, comfortable, and appropriate for most places you’ll go (skip it for the ballet, but honestly, fine for a bar!). Layers make this look work beyond the gym — so get creative! 

Spring Outfit Combo #11: Shorts + crewneck sweatshirt/crewneck sweater + stylish sneakers or loafer: If your trip falls on the warmer end of spring — or, the time of the year where it’s pretty hot midday and cooler at night — rock a shorts and sweatshirt combo in your New York spring packing list. Hear me out, a loafer adds a delightfully off-kilter vibe to this outfit! 

Spring Outfit Combo #12: Shorts + t-shirt +leather jacket/blazer/cardigan + stylish sneakers or loafer: If you want to dial the above look up a bit, throw a blazer, leather jacket, or cardigan into the mix. This is the perfect shopping-to-sipping-martinis outside combination for your New York packing list for spring.

Spring Outfit Combo #13: Denim shorts + t-shirt + jean jacket + stylish sneakers or loafer: “Canadian tuxedos” are all the rage here — add this combo to your NYC packing list for spring and rock one with confidence as you explore the best bars in Brooklyn

Need additional ideas for what to wear in NYC in spring? Here are just a few of my favorite New York-based fashion accounts to follow —Aiyana Ishmael, Gabby Prescod, Harling Ross Anton, Vesper Ireland, Everything OmegaHelena Glazer Hodne, Jalil Johnson, Natalie Lim Suarez, and Katie Sturino. And be sure to look at their followed accounts for even more inspiration! 

New York Spring Packing Accessories

Artist House (ACE Fabrications) in the spring in Columbia Waterfront District in Brooklyn

While I suggest leaving as much room as you can in your suitcase for outer layers, you’ll still need a few key accessories in your New York packing list for spring.

As mentioned previously, multiple pairs of shoes can be tricky to fit in your suitcase — opt for wearing your bulkiest pair (sneakers, boots, heels if you so choose) and packing the flatter options.

While there’s nothing wrong with a good heel, spring generally feels like a more casual time of year, and if you need to leave a pair at home, I’d suggest skipping the heels. This is a walking town, and everybody knows it! I have yet to come across someone who judges people for rocking cute and comfy footwear here. 

While we’re talking comfort, let’s cover one of the other essential things to bring when you’re planning what to wear in NYC in spring: sunscreen. While it won’t (usually!) be as blazing hot as the summer months, a full day or walking around outside in the sun will catch up to you! Be prepared and slather on that spf — and don’t forget a baseball hat and/or sunglasses for the day! 

And though it won’t get nearly as warm as it does in summer, it’s always helpful to carry a reusable water bottle (I like this collapsible water bottle) to stay hydrated on long walking days. 

Anyone who lives in New York will tell you that a great, all-day bag is essential to your day’s success. While a tiny purse is cute, it really won’t cut it when you’re out all day and night seeing the sights.

Add a fun tote bag from your favorite New York institution (hello, Zabar’s!), a handy backpack (yes, I bring mine everywhere, I’m trying to save my shoulders!), or a crossbody purse or belt bag for shorter outings to your New York spring packing list. 

Another thing to throw in your bag and onto your packing list for NYC in spring is a small umbrella! Those April Showers™ are very real, and I often find that the weather can vary greatly from one neighborhood to the next — I have frequently gotten on the subway in sunny weather only to reemerge in a downpour!

As you’re planning what to wear in NYC in spring, throw a lightweight rain jacket into the mix (or pack a trench coat that’s water-resistant!). 

And as you plan your marathon-long spring adventures, don’t forget perhaps the most important accessory of all — the portable phone charger. I’ve lived here for…a good long time and I still sometimes find myself sweating it out on the train, hoping my phone battery won’t die before I get home. Don’t be like me!! Pack a small portable charger and free yourself from having to waste time tethered to a coffee shop outlet! 

So pack layers, pack asmuchasyoucaninonesuitcase, and get ready to experience the pure joy of spring in New York!

Your NYC Spring Packing Checklist:

  • Your own choice of undergarments and pajamas! 
  • T-shirts
  • Jumpsuit/romper
  • Long dress
  • Midi dress
  • Mini dress
  • Jean jacket
  • Sweater(s) 
  • Cardigan
  • Button-up shirt 
  • Blazer
  • Leather jacket
  • Trench coat
  • Wool coat (if really cold!) 
  • Joggers
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Wide-leg trousers
  • Activewear sets 
  • Sneakers
  • Loafer (optional)
  • Combat boot (optional)
  • Baseball hat or sun hat
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Backpack
  • Tote bag
  • Cross-body purse
  • Cross-body belt bag
  • Small travel umbrella
  • Foldable rain shell/ Rain jacket
  • Water bottle 
  • Portable phone charger 

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