NYC in Winter: What to Wear

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As a budget traveler, I’m always looking for a good travel deal and visiting New York City after the holidays is at the top of my list! January to February is New York City’s off-season when airline and hotel prices are usually at their lowest. The holidays are over, the ball has dropped, and it’s the perfect time for us budget travelers to enjoy the city. The one downside to visiting New York City in the dead of winter? You might freeze your butt off! So to prevent that (and keep every part of your body warm), I am sharing my complete packing list of what to wear in NYC in winter.

Disclaimer: If this list seems extravagant, it’s because I have lived in Florida my whole life so anything below 50°F is COLD to me. But it also means these items will most definitely keep anyone warm! During my trip to New York City, the temperature usually ranged from 40°F – 20°F, EXCEPT for the last day when the temperature dipped into the teens and I questioned how anyone could survive in these conditions (not surprisingly, that day turned out to be the temperature low of the entire month).

Winter in NYC Packing List:

Winter Coat – My first winter clothing item may seem obvious but a good winter coat is essential! It keeps your whole midsection warm and cozy from any gusty winds or Antarctic-feeling temperatures. But my favorite thing about wearing a coat is how stylish they feel. In Florida, wearing one layer all the time gets boring so getting to layer up with a thick, winter coat makes me feel so sophisticated 😉 . Any who, there’s also lots of options out there for what kind of style, material, and thickness you want your coat to be. My best tip is to try on several coats in the store. Putting your hands in the pockets and walking around like you would on the streets of Manhattan may get you a glance or two from other shoppers, but it will also help you figure out what coat works best for you.

My best friend and I being corny tourists 😉

I scored my wool Maralyn & Me trench coat from Burlington Coat Factory and I can’t imagine ever parting with it! It did it’s job well and kept me unbelievably warm. Plus, design features like the creamy white/dark gray plaid pattern of the wool, a belt to cinch my waist, and pairs of black, over-sized buttons down the front made the coat feel less utilitarian and more cohesive with the rest of my outfit(s). Practical features like two spacious front pockets, an inconspicuous, zippered breast pocket, and a removable hoodie on the back also gave this coat awesome versatility.

Material composition of my winter coat.

*One thing that most warm-weathered folks like me don’t consider when buying a coat is the actual weight of the coat. My delicate, Florida shoulders get easily weighed down and sore if I’m wearing a super heavy coat all day so it’s important for me to find one that’s thick enough to keep me warm, but not so heavy that my shoulders ache the whole day.

Winter Boots – On past trips to NYC, I had made the mistake of wearing regular, old combat boots because they were the only types of boots I owned. The problem with this for me was that the heel on these boots combined with miles of walking through the city left my feet SUPER sore and sometimes a little cold. For this last trip, I put my foot down and decided I would buy a real pair of waterproof snow boats- partially because I really needed more comfortable walking boots and partially because I was willing it to snow.

My wishful thinking worked . . . kinda. It did snow once, but it was so little that all that was left when I got onto the streets was basically slushy ice. At least my boots kept my feet happy even when I walked 10 miles in one day!

Layers (tights, undershirts, thick socks, etc.) – Like I briefly mentioned earlier, layers are the best way to stay warm and under my coat, I looked like a seven-layer dip. Or a fancy layered cake. Or like Shrek would say, an onion. The point is I was wearing plenty of layers! For my top half, a long-sleeved cotton tee under a thick sweater under my winter coat was usually sufficient to keep me toasty. Although if it got ridiculously cold, it wouldn’t have been surprising for me to add one more layer, like a short sleeve tee under the long sleeve one, as shown below.

For my bottom half, the layering wasn’t as extreme. I could really only wear one extra layer of tights or leggings under thick jeans and still maintain mobility. I just made sure not to pack any thin, jegging type pants for this trip. And of course, for my feet, I swapped my usual thin cotton socks for some tightly-knit athletic type ones.

My freezing hand holding some amazing cookie dough.

Winter Accessories (hat, scarf, and gloves) – The final accessories for my clothing cocoon were a pair of gloves, a beanie, and a knit infinity scarf. Target and Amazon have a great, affordable selection of all of these items. My gloves were made of a mix of polyester and spandex and had special fingertips for you to use on a touch screen. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend them as they neither kept my hands warm nor let me use my smart phone with ease. My hands are clammy even in Florida and I have yet to find the perfect gloves for cold weather (please leave any recommendations in the comments below!).

My hat and scarf, on the other hand, were perfect for winter-y photos and keeping me snug. During this trip, I discovered that I’m definitely a beanie person and that an infinity scarf is fun to play around with. My go-to was double looping it to hang around my neck and chest, but on our last day when it was FREEZING, I triple looped it to also protect most of my face 😉 .

The less skin exposure on a windy day, the better!

Need more inspiration for your next trip to New York City? Read this post for The Best 3-Day Itinerary and this one for the best eats in Manhattan!

14 thoughts on “NYC in Winter: What to Wear

  1. I am totally with you. Being from Florida, that weather in NYC is brutal. I actually brought hand and foot warmers that I used when we went snow skiing. Not kidding. And I was still cold. What an amazing city, in the spring or summer:)


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