Wondering what to wear in New York in the winter? We got you. First, what is winter like in New York City? Maybe you’ve heard about the worst of it — neverending sludgy sidewalk snow, frigid winds whipping in your face as you attempt to trek your shopping bags up the subway stairs, and gray skies until April.
Before you permanently decamp to sunnier climes, let us present a counterargument:
Lightly falling snow blanketing the lamplights of Central Park. Walking past brightly-lit seasonal store windows with a hot chocolate in hand. Ice-skating in Bryant Park. Marveling at the glittering holiday lights or many seasonal markets around town. Enjoying a glass of wine or a martini at Bemelmans Bar. Breathing in the crisp night air after a night at the opera or the ballet at Lincoln Center. People-watching as stylish New Yorkers showcase their layering best while bar-hopping in the West Village.
Yes, New York City winters can be a challenge. Yes, it is often pretty cold — but it’s a shame to miss out on some of the city’s most magical moments simply because of the weather! Not to mention, after the holiday buzz of New York in December passes, the cold months of January and February are a great time to visit NYC without the crowds!
Ahead we’ve got everything you need to make a weather-proof, stylish New York winter packing list so you can spend less time shivering and more time making merry!
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Average NYC Winter Weather
The first step in making a successful New York packing list for winter is to determine the weather during your trip. While all seasons have their outlying days and variables, winter in New York is generally a more consistent time, save for major weather events like blizzards and rain storms.
You can generally expect a temperature range between 31 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit in December, between 29 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit in January, and between 29 and 43 degrees Fahrenheit in February.
Snow and rain predictions can be unreliable day-to-day, so it’s a good idea to have at least a few items that are moisture-proof in case a storm appears.
New York Packing List for Winter
The Go-Tos for NYC Winter Dressing
The NYC packing list for winter shares the same crucial central philosophy as packing for fall: layers! Though New York’s outdoor temperatures are generally more consistently cold than they are in the fall, the difference between spending time indoors and outdoors can be significant.
When figuring out what to wear in New York in winter, consider your planned activities and how long you’ll be indoors vs outdoors — are you seeing a Broadway matinee and then cabbing it to dinner?
Feel free to wear a thinner jacket and shoes that won’t necessarily make it for miles. Walking around Central Park for the afternoon? Or are you going anywhere near a body of water (where the wind is wicked!)? Don’t forget an insulated coat, gloves and a hat!
As you build your NYC packing list for winter, we also recommend bringing layers that you can easily mix and match to save vital room in your suitcase!
Also, check the weather right before your visit. Sometimes we get really mild weather, sometimes we get really cold, windy, or wet (or a combination of all three) weather! If you are experiencing a more mild winter weather, check our NYC fall packing list too for some fun outfit ideas.
How do you put together a packing list for NYC in winter full of coordinated layers? It’s time to break down what to wear in New York in winter.
Winter Outfit Combo #1: Jeans + t-shirt + leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer + fashion sneakers: This is what to wear in NYC in winter if you’ll either a) mostly be indoors or b) it’s (relatively) warmer than usual, which happens! That said, it’s a versatile combination that can take you from shopping to happy hour without the need to change!
Winter Outfit Combo #2: Monochromatic wide-leg trousers + oversized sweater + wool coat + fashion sneakers, sneaker/boot or stylish loafer: A great combination to add to your packing list for NYC in winter for colder days when you want to feel fashionable and comfortable. This look works for everything from taking in a museum day to seeing a Broadway show without feeling stuffy or too casual.
Winter Outfit Combo #3: Oversized sweater + wide leg jeans + wool coat + sneaker/boot: A slightly more casual version than our trouser-sweater combo with a similar silhouette — add this to your New York winter packing list for a day of checking out the city’s coolest coffee shops or taking in a film festival.
Winter Outfit Combo #4: Maxi-skirt/maxi-dress + t-shirt/oversized sweater + wool coat + fashion sneakers or chunky boot: Sometimes you simply don’t feel like wearing pants with buttons — we hear you! Add this combination to your NYC packing list for winter for a versatile and comfortable option that easily goes from day to night. And if it’s really cold, throw a pair of tights on underneath!
Winter Outfit Combo #5: Long slip dress + leather jacket/blazer/cardigan/oversized sweater + wool coat + fashion sneakers or chunky boot: A slightly dialed-up version of the previous maxi dress look that’s a great evening wear choice on your NYC packing list for winter. Add tights, gloves, and a hat if it’s really cold!
Winter Outfit Combo #6: Joggers + t-shirt + sweatshirt + wool coat or winter parka + fashion sneakers + baseball hat/winter hat + gloves: Sightseeing? Checking out the city’s parks? Want to shop in comfort? Add this sporty-casual combination to your packing list for NYC in winter to keep things moving.
Winter Outfit Combo #7: Monochromatic suit + wool coat + fashion sneakers/boots + winter hat + gloves: What to wear in New York in winter — invented by the one and only Jenna Lyons!! Are you going to a gallery, trendy dinner, or J. Crew board meeting? They’ll never know!
Winter Outfit Combo #8: Jeans/ wide-leg trousers/ + blazer/cardigan/oversized sweater + wool coat or winter parka + boots/chunky boot + winter hat + gloves: Yes, it sounds slightly insane to wear this many layers. But when it’s really, really cold out, but you still want to look cool — this is what to wear in NYC in winter.
Winter Outfit Combo #9: Long slip dress + turtlenecks + blazer/cardigan + wool coat + tights + boots or stylish loafer + winter hat + gloves: What happens if you need to go to a semi-formal event and it’s freezing? The layering theory can still apply here! Add this combo to your New York packing list for winter to feel gussied up without shivering — and know that you can opt-in or opt-out of any of the layers, like the cardigan or turtleneck!
Winter Outfit Combo #10: Joggers + t-shirt + sweatshirt + winter parka + boots/chunky boot + winter hat + gloves: Maybe you accidentally picked the coldest day of the year for a walking tour of New York City — it happens! Dress for comfort and add this combo to your packing list for NYC in winter to stay warm on super-chilly sightseeing days.
If you need additional inspiration for your New York packing list in winter, check out some of the following Big Apple style creators, like Aiyana Ishmael, Jalil Johnson, Katie Sturino, Vesper Ireland, Everything Omega, Natalie Lim Suarez, Helena Glazer Hodne, Jalil Johnson, Harling Ross Anton, and Gabby Prescod — just to name a few!
New York Winter Packing Accessories
When creating your New York winter packing list, be sure to leave plenty of room for accessories! Shoes, as we all know, can be bulky — it’s worth picking out a few pairs that will go with more than one outfit to add to your NYC packing list for winter.
Even in the winter, it’s also likely that you’ll be walking quite a bit — while it’s totally fine to bring a pair or two of shoes that don’t have all-day comfort, we recommend erring on the side of comfy-chic over “beauty is pain”!!!
Chunky-heel boots, combat boots and most fashion sneakers are accepted in settings from casual to formal and are great choices for what to wear in NYC in winter. Unless it’s wet weather, then you’ll want to skip the sneaker and go to a more water-resistant boot or a good snow boot.
In addition to shoes, if you’re wondering what to wear in New York in winter — a winter hat and gloves are often the answer. Having a warm pair of gloves and a few stylish but cozy hats will get you far during long days out on the town and early sunsets! And though it can be cold, we still recommend a pair of sunglasses and/or a baseball hat for those chilly-yet-bright sunny days!
As you plan your ideal New York packing list for winter, consider bringing a few different bags. If you’ll only be out for a few hours, you may prefer adding a crossbody purse or belt bag to your packing list for NYC in winter to easily store your phone, wallet, and other must-haves and remain hands-free.
If you’ll be out for a long period of time, consider adding a large backpack or tote bag to your New York winter packing list to carry accessories for the long haul without having to return to your hotel time and again.
When you’re thinking of what to wear in NYC in winter, sunscreen may not be at the top of your list. But though it may be chilly, we still recommend bringing a facial sunscreen for long days outside. Your dermatologist will thank you later!
Water and snow-proof layers are another essential item to add to your New York packing list for winter — there’s nothing less fun than getting caught out in a cold rainstorm or unexpected blizzard!
If you’re making a quick jog and coffee run and don’t feel like taking your whole parka out for the trip, a foldable, lightweight down jacket or vest can also be a good workout accessory (along with your hat and gloves!) when you’re planning what to wear in New York in winter.
And while winter in New York City may not feel as deeply dehydrating as a summer in the concrete grid, staying hydrated is still important! It’s worth considering adding a collapsible water bottle and/or an all-season thermos to your New York packing list for winter as well.
Every season in New York, however, is phone charger season — the last thing you want to do is end up with a low battery phone when all you want to do is snag a ride back to your hotel in the cold! Make sure to bring a portable phone charger — and take as many videos of the Bloomingdale’s holiday windows as you like!
The takeaways? Stay warm, stay comfortable, and stay chic with mix-and-match layers and shoes you can walk in — and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!
NYC Winter Packing Checklist & Summary:
- Your own choice of undergarments and pajamas!
- Long dress
- Midi dress
- Mini dress
- Button-up shirt(s)
- Leather jacket
- Trench coat
- Wool coat
- Performance Parka
- Wide-leg trousers
- Foldable down jacket or vest
- Block heel boot
- Combat boot
- Snow boot (optional)
- Baseball hat
- Warm Hat
- Tote bag
- Cross-body purse
- Cross-body belt bag
- Small travel umbrella
- Foldable rain shell/ Rain jacket
- Water bottle or thermos
- Portable phone charger
Enjoyed this guide for what to wear in New York in winter? Bookmark for later!
PSST…while you’re here. Do you need help planning your New York City trip? Check out a few of our helpful guides!
- Best things to do in New York City
- How to spend 3 days in NYC itinerary
- How to spend 4 days in NYC itinerary
- How to spend 5 days in NYC itinerary
- How to spend 7 days in NYC itinerary
- How to spend a weekend in Brooklyn
- 15 Ways to Spend One Day in NYC
- Where to Stay in NYC (Best Areas to Stay in NYC)
About Guest Author
Sarah Beling is a playwright, New Yorker, and passionate food enthusiast who is always looking for her next meal. You can find her in an NYC park, enjoying a chopped cheese sandwich and reading about NYC’s best new places to eat.