What to wear in New York in December

What to wear in New York in December

Visiting New York City in December is like stepping into a real-life winter wonderland. You get the lights of Times Square and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, all paired with hot coffee and impeccable fashion. So, when it comes to what to pack and wear, many travelers find themselves at a crossroads.

Balancing style with comfort in New York’s winter weather is key. So, whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned city slicker, we offer practical tips on winter fashion and what to pack for your New York adventure.

Practical Tips for Visitors

Here are some practical tips for knowing what to wear in New York in December:


  1. Weather-Proof Your Plans

    Check the Forecast Regularly, as New York’s winter weather can be unpredictable. Have a mix of indoor and outdoor activities planned, so if the weather turns, you can switch to your indoor options.

  2. Daylight and Nightlife Considerations

    Remember, daylight hours are shorter in December, so plan outdoor activities during daylight and save indoor attractions for post-sunset. New York’s nightlife is bustling, especially around the holidays, so there is a lot to do once the sun sets.

  3. Navigating the City

    Utilize the city's extensive public transport network. It is efficient, relatively inexpensive, and saves you from the hassles of traffic and parking. New York is a walking city, but sidewalks can be slippery in winter. Wear shoes with good traction and be mindful of icy patches.

  4. Stay Connected and Informed

    With the amount of picture-taking and navigation you will be doing, carrying a portable charger is necessary. Downloading apps for public transportation, city guides, and restaurant reviews can be extremely helpful.

  5. Embrace Local Experiences

    Visit holiday markets for unique gifts and festive treats, and check out local listings for concerts, shows, and exhibitions happening during your stay.

  6. Preparing for Departure

    Ensure your travel insurance, like AXA’s Travel Protection Plan, is up to date and covers your needs for the trip. When packing, use the layering tips and packing suggestions provided earlier to ensure you bring what you need without overpacking.

What to Pack for NY During the Winter?

When packing for New York in December, think cozy, comfortable, and chic. The city's winter weather demands specific essentials to navigate its streets and outdoor life. Here is a detailed breakdown of what should find a place in your suitcase, for both men and women:


  • Thermal Layers: Start with a solid foundation. Thin thermal tops and leggings are perfect for layering and will not add unnecessary bulk. These base layers are crucial for retaining body heat, especially when exploring the outdoors.
  • Warm Outerwear: An insulated, windproof coat is a must-have. Consider the length and insulation – a longer coat provides extra warmth and protection against the frigid wind. Something like Waterproof or Water-resistant is suggested when it snows
  • Waterproof Shoes: Sturdy, waterproof boots are essential for walking around the snowy and slushy streets. Also, make sure they are comfortable for long walks – after all, there is a lot to explore!
  • Accessories: A warm hat or beanie, a scarf, and gloves are indispensable. They serve a dual purpose – keeping you warm and adding an extra touch of style to your outfits.
  • Sweaters and Fleece: Pack a couple of cozy sweaters or fleece pullovers. They are perfect for layering and versatile for outdoor walks and indoor activities.
  • Socks: Bring enough pairs of warm socks. Wool or wool-blend socks are great for keeping your feet warm and dry.
  • Sunglasses: The winter sun can be very bright, especially reflecting off snow. A pair of UV-protective sunglasses will come in handy, as they also protect your eyes against the wind.
  • Compact Umbrella or Raincoat: Winter in New York can sometimes be wet. A small, portable umbrella or a foldable raincoat can be a lifesaver.

Cold Weather in New York: Online Purchases or Shopping in the City?

Deciding whether to complete your winter wardrobe before you arrive in New York or dive into the city's shopping scene can be quite a puzzle. Each option has its unique rewards and considerations:

Shopping online before your trip offers convenience, with time to compare prices and read reviews, ensuring you are ready for New York's cold. However, be mindful of potential size issues and order in advance to avoid delays. In contrast, shopping in New York is an unparalleled experience, offering a variety of flagship stores and unique boutiques. While it is an exciting way to explore the city, be aware of the potential for overwhelm and the risk of overspending.

Combining Both Approaches

You do not have to choose one over the other. Consider a hybrid approach: Arrive with your essential items – a good coat, boots, and base layers. Dedicate a day or two of your trips to exploring New York’s shopping districts. It could be for specific items like accessories or simply for the experience.

Winter Fashion: Comfortable vs Stylish

In New York City, looking chic and staying comfortable during December is an art form. Striking this balance means you can enjoy the city’s offerings without compromising on style or comfort. Here is how you can master this art:

Understanding NYC Winter Fashion Essentials

  • Statement Coat: Your outerwear will be the most visible part of your ensemble on the streets of New York. Opt for a coat that makes a statement but also provides the necessary warmth and protection from the elements. A coat in a neutral color like black, grey, or navy makes it easier, or you can choose a bold color or pattern to stand out.
  • Stylish Layering: Layering is your secret weapon. It not only keeps you warm but also allows you to mix and match pieces for different looks. Combine a trendy sweater with a classic button-down or layer a chic turtleneck under a sleek dress. The key is layering items that can easily be removed or added as you transition from the outdoors to the heated indoors.

Footwear: Where Comfort Meets Chic

  • Boots Are a Must: Look for insulated, waterproof, or water-resistant options with a comfortable sole. Ankle boots or calf-length boots can work well with both pants and dresses.
  • Sneakers for Casual Days: For those more laid-back days, a trendy pair of sneakers can be a great option. They are perfect for extensive walking and can be paired stylishly with jeans or a casual dress.

Accessorizing Smartly

  • Functional Accessories: Accessories in New York winter are not just about style; they serve a purpose. A chic beanie or a stylish fedora can keep your head warm, while a patterned scarf can upgrade your outfit and protect you from the frigid wind.
  • Handbags and Backpacks: A crossbody bag or a stylish backpack not only adds to your outfit but is also practical for carrying your daily essentials.


Tips for Balancing Comfort and Style

Choose Versatile Pieces, investing in clothing that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Opt for a few quality pieces that look good and provide warmth instead of buying many poor-quality items. Plan your outfits ahead of time, thinking about your day’s activities. Try different outfit combinations before your trip, as this helps you pack efficiently and confidently.

Layers You Need for the Cold Weather in New York

New York in December offers various activities, from walking down snowy streets to enjoying cozy indoor spots. Dressing right means adjusting your layers to suit these different settings.

Dressing for Outdoor Adventures in NYC

When you are out exploring the sights of New York, proper layering is key to staying warm and comfortable.

Start with a base layer. Thermal tops and leggings are ideal as they keep you warm and dry, especially if you are more active. Add a mid-layer like a fleece pullover or a woolen sweater. This layer provides insulation and can be easily removed if you feel too warm.

Your outer layer should be a waterproof and windproof coat. It is your main defense against the cold and biting wind. Do not forget a warm hat, gloves, and a scarf. On your feet, wear waterproof, insulated boots that keep them warm and dry, especially if there’s snow or slush.

Indoor Comfort

Indoor areas in New York, like museums, restaurants, or theaters, are well-heated, so you can peel off those outer layers and enjoy a more relaxed outfit.

On days when you will be spending more time indoors, choose a base layer that is comfortable and stylish since it might be more visible. A light turtleneck or a long-sleeve top can be perfect. Swap the fleece for a stylish sweater or cardigan and choose an outer layer that is easy to take off and carry.

Adapting to Your Activities

  • Sightseeing: If you are moving between indoor and outdoor settings frequently, wear layers that are easy to add or remove.
  • Outdoor Markets or Events: Wear your warmest layers. You will be spending a lot of time outside, so prioritize warmth.
  • Evening Out: Indoors will be warm, so focus on a stylish mid-layer and a chic coat that you can check at the door.
  • Physical Activities (like ice skating): Wear breathable layers you can shed as your body temperature increases.


AXA already looks after millions of people around the world

With our travel insurance we can take great care of you too

At your side, everyday