What to wear in NOLA in winter?
January 15, 2017 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Hello! I will be visiting New Orleans in a week, and have never been. What should I plan to wear, both from a climate and a culture perspective?

The projected forecasts look pretty mild, at least by my Midwestern standards: mostly 70s during the day, rainy on and off. Does it get much colder at night? Does the humidity/rain tend to make it feel warmer, or cooler? Everyone I know who has visited has emphasized the insane heat, but they've also only been there in July/Aug.

Also, are there any cultural clothing norms I should know about? We don't anticipate doing too many fancy things (and kind of have that covered, if we do decide on a fancy meal), but I know different cities have overall formality/informality levels and we do plan to attend a lot of live music, obviously.

Thanks in advance!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As far as culture, this is a pretty laid back city. If you are primarily planning on seeing live music in the Marigny, for instance, casual is the norm.

The bigger issue is the weather. It should be mild here next week as you said, but I'd bring a few layers. The weather can change here quickly (it was in the 20s last weekend and back in the 70s this week). It can cool off slightly at night. The humidity typically amplifies the temperature - if it's cool it will feel damp and colder, if it's hot it turns things into a sauna.

Its looking like a pretty good week other than rain, so bring sunglasses and comfy shoes, and hopefully you can find a good balcony to have a drink on one afternoon. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.
posted by tryniti at 5:34 PM on January 15, 2017

I was there early December with 70s weather and drizzle/rain almost constantly. A sweater hoodie suited me fine for an outer layer (I'm from the northeast and couldn't get over not needing a coat in December.) It only rained hard enough to want a rain layer for a couple of hours.

Jeans and a casual top worked for daytime and darker jeans and a black top were as fancy as I got for a wide variety of neighborhoods/restaurants. At the more touristy places I almost felt TOO fancy with my cashmere and skinny denim and black leather boots. (Water-resistant flat ankle boots I could walk in for long periods were the most important thing.)

Enjoy! It's truly a great place and people go there to have fun and I found it a "come as you are" sort of vibe.
posted by kapers at 5:35 PM on January 15, 2017

We're going in a couple weeks. When Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema visited for his "best food cities" series, he wrote, underdressed novices to the spectacle are heard to say, “No one gave me the hat memo.” FWIW I'm planning to buy a hat there, because why not.
posted by fedward at 7:05 PM on January 15, 2017

I have been in NOLA between Christmas and New Year's twice now, and the way I'd summarize is that you need pants, but only an inside-wear jacket.

Comfy shoes, definitely. It's a city where you'll want to be able to stop and explore on a distracted whim, which is easiest when walking.
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:05 PM on January 15, 2017

As said above, New Orleans is very relaxed about dress codes outside of a handful of old school jacket required restaurants. You'll see dressed up and fashionable looking people and tourists in t-shirts and cargo shorts in the same restaurant for dinner. Same goes for seeing live music. The way all imaginable types of people can mix and have fun together here is one of my favorite things about New Orleans.
posted by MadamM at 8:53 PM on January 15, 2017

"Does the humidity/rain tend to make it feel warmer, or cooler?"

When it gets cold - which it probably will not do during your trip - the humidity makes it a truly miserable cold. I'd rather be in 15º temps up high in the mountains with dry clear air than in 40º wet soup here. It just penetrates all your clothing immediately. Various yankees have confirmed this sensation, saying that it feels colder down here than it does back home even when it's technically 20º warmer.

As for dress code: like several people above have stated, there ain't much of one. We cater to tourists and unless you're visiting one of the old guard restaurants you'll be fine in your shorts and flip-flops or whatever. Not to say you can't dress up - we appreciate some fancy - but you don't gotta.
posted by komara at 9:44 PM on January 15, 2017

I've only been to NOLA in autumn so I can't tell you much about clothes but....if you intend to visit Bourbon Street wear waterproof, closed shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. It's one of the dirtiest streets I've ever been on. Don't even get me started on the smell....
posted by dutchbint at 3:09 AM on January 16, 2017

I've been to New Orleans three times around New Years (about a week each time), and high temps during those times varied from upper 70s (shorts) to upper 50s (light jacket). Day-to-night temperature swings were probably a bit milder (not hugely so) than what I'm accustomed to in the Midwest. If the humidity affected my comfort within that temperature range, I didn't notice. If you think of it as comparable to mid-April in the Midwest* and bring appropriate wear for that range of possibilities, you should be fine.

*My reference point for "Midwest" is Indianapolis. If yours is, e.g., Duluth, adjust accordingly.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:42 AM on January 16, 2017

Hah, well yes, my reference point is Chicago, so April means we cycle through all four seasons every 48 hours. Looks like I can plan for a little less variation than that! Thanks, everyone.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:22 AM on January 18, 2017

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