How to Dress for Winter in NYC

December 19, 2019 | Sarah Funky

Winter is here and it has brought the cold weather! In order to be comfortable while you are out exploring the city, you’ll need to know how to dress for winter in NYC and what to pack. As a tour guide who is always outside this time of year, I’ve found that a lot of visitors are poorly packed for the weather during this season. In this guide, I’ll break down exactly how to stay warm in winter.

When is winter in NYC?

New York’s winter generally lasts from mid-November to March and the temperatures can be between 45°F to 15°F (7°C to -9°C). I think part of the reason why many visitors don’t know how to dress for winter in NYC is that they underestimate the amount of time that they will be spending outdoors.

How to travel throughout the city in winter

In New York, you won’t have the luxury of driving a car directly to your destination all the time and taxi costs can add up quickly (see how to save money in New York). The most cost-effective (and often quickest) way to travel throughout the city is by public transportation. Once you get off at the station closest to the destination you’re visiting, you’ll likely have to walk several blocks. At times, it could be as much as a half a mile (1 km) from the subway. This means you’ll be exposed to the cold winter air much more than you would in other winter destinations where you can pull your car right up to the door. This is why it is important knowing how to dress for winter in NYC.

Photo by  Andre Benz  on  Unsplash
Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

The New Yorker’s Guide on How to Dress for Winter in NYC

The proper way to dress for winter requires layering. Just because it’s cold that doesn’t mean you can’t look fancy. Below, I’ve outlined how to dress, but you can head to my Amazon Store to see my curated list of hand-selected winter clothing for men and women. All of these items are also linked below in the step-by-step layering guide.

Tina Lee crossing the Brooklyn Bridge
Tina Lee crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Tina Lee from @ofleatherandlace


Your first layer of clothing needs to be thermals. This is a microfiber fleece layer that will help to keep the heat from escaping your body. Thermals can range in price but I used the TSLA black thermal top and bottom set. It is only $21 and does the trick. Plus they have it for men and women!

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Thermals from Amazon


Layer 2 would be pants and a long shirt and sweater. Since you have thermals underneath your clothing, you may be hot when you are indoors dining or at a museum for an extended period of time. It is smart to wear layers so you can control your temperature. I normally wear the pants or jeans I would wear the rest of the year (nothing special about these) and then a sweater. If you are the type of person that gets cold easily or if it is below freezing, you may want to wear a long shirt and a sweater together.

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Sarah at Rolf’s Restaurant for Christmas

You should have warm thermal socks and wear waterproof boots or shoes that cover your ankles. Make sure the shoes you are wearing are comfortable because you will be walking much more than you normally do if you live in a place where you drive a car. Most women in NY wear knee-high boots this time of year. A great option could be comfortable Ugg style boots with the fur on the inside. However, most New Yorkers wear black or brown leather boots. Please note that New York is very fashion-forward and you will almost never see a New York woman wearing snow boots on the street unless it actually snowed.

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Sarah at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Men generally wear boots that come past their ankles. Generally, you’ll see them in black or brown. If they are not waterproof when you buy the boot make sure you make them waterproof using a spray.

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Your final layer needs to be a warm winter coat that is a down jacket with insulation. The coat brand Luis and I use is Triple F.A.T Goose and it has been a lifesaver. In addition to these brands, Arc’teryx can also mostly be a great choice. Make sure to check out OutdoorCrunch’s huge Arc’teryx guide if you decide to give them a chance. You can find both of the coats we use in my winter packing list on Amazon. Since the Triple F.A.T. Goose coat is $600, a more budget-friendly option, if you don’t plan on using this coat again, is this one for women or this one for men. Your jacket must be made for arctic temperatures (especially if you are coming here in December or January). Please note that a peacoat will not be warm enough. Every single time I do a tour this time of year, several guests show up in a peacoat or light jacket and are freezing within about 30 minutes. You must have a heavy winter coat or you will be uncomfortably cold (especially if you are not wearing thermals underneath it).

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You should also wear a hat and have gloves. Your hat should be insulated, not one of those hats you buy at Forever 21 or H&M that you can practically see through the cloth. The most heat comes out of your head so it is important that the hat you get be fleece lined. I recommend this one for men and this one for women.

Luis and I dressed right for winter!
Luis and I dressed right for winter!

And that is it! If you follow these three simple layering tricks and read my packing guide then you’ll be warm and comfortable while you’re out exploring NYC. I hope to see you on a tour but if not, enjoy your time in the city that never sleeps!

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