Manhattan in May
May 4, 2008 11:05 AM   Subscribe

What to wear in NYC: how can a girl be stylish, comfortable and be climate-appropriate for Manhattan in the month of May? Or, trying hard to look good without looking like I'm trying too hard.

I'm a 20+ year old female student who'll be in NYC this coming week. I will be visiting museums, attending gigs, seeing shows on Broadway, and dining at top-tier restaurants. I will also be living out of a 40-litre backpack.

I've looked up street pictures on The Sartorialist (including the not-so-stylish people in the background of the pictures). I've read your thoughts on blending in in New York City. I've also done a fair bit of googling around. I've also slowly come to realise that women in NYC do not always dress like they're on Sex and the City.

But I still do not know what to pack that can bring me from the Statue of Liberty to shopping along Fifth Ave; from museum hopping to lunch at Jean Georges; from dinner at Babbo to a gig at the Bowery Ballroom. Is it possible to assemble a sensible outfit that's appropriate for all of the above activities and environments?

Where I am now, the temperature is hovering around 32 degrees Celsius (~90F) , so I'm having difficulties determining how to dress for the weather in NYC. Is it too early in the year for floaty, summery dresses and bare legs? Just how quickly do temperatures fall after sunset and will a light cardigan sufficient? Today's NYT has a slideshow on spring coats - does the weather currently call for them and are they a regular sight on the sidewalks?

Please help me pack some style while packing light!
posted by hellopanda to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
How funny, my sister is coming to NYC this week, too, from Florida, and needs advice on what to wear, so after I give this advice to you, I will call her and repeat the same thing. It's been chilly the past week- low 50s, damp, foggy, rainy. Bare legs would be a little too much (and I know, because I went out one night with bare legs and and I was freezing). The forecast for next week is looking a little warmer but still possibly rainy most days. Bare limbs might be appropriate for day time, but at night, you'll probably need tights/pants and a light jacket. If I were you, I would pack: nice jeans and tops, ballet flats for casual day wear (should bring rain gear, too), spring dresses and sandals for dressed up day wear, appropriate layers (a light cardigan will probably not be enough; bring a light jacket or a cardigan + warm scarf) and fancier shoes to add to spring dresses for evening wear. Dark colors naturally look more fancy- a plain, black dress could carry you from lunch in Chinatown to dinner at Jean Georges- so if you need to pack light, pack dark pieces that could be jazzed up with brightly colored accessories.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:20 AM on May 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes to spring coats. No to floaty dresses and bare legs.

These days, I am wearing skirts above the knee with tights and knee-high boots, normal-weight tops (i.e. no sweater) and a spring coat. At night I add a lightweight cardigan to keep off the extra chill. I find this ensemble works for all of the walking I need to do, plus is dressy enough for all locations.

This is the weather report that I trust to help me get dressed every morning.
posted by xo at 11:21 AM on May 4, 2008


If you're going to be doing a lot of walking, ballet flats might make your feet ache badly by the end of the day. So I'd add (or substitute) flattish shoes that have some arch support.
posted by essexjan at 1:19 PM on May 4, 2008


Thanks for your answers and very helpful descriptions of suggested outfits. Please keep them coming! :)

Essexjan, I unfortunately understand full well what you're saying. It's just so difficult finding a pair of shoes that is as feminine and versatile as ballet flats and provide adequate arch support at the same time. Mocassins, while comfy, just don't cut it. I'm prepared, however, to do some shoe shopping in nyc if my feet start demanding it.
posted by hellopanda at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2008


banana republic is always a good city staple for mod/nice and classic. A tiny bit $$$ but the clothes are great quality:)
posted by femmme at 2:03 PM on May 4, 2008


Pack for a range of 40-80 F.
posted by brujita at 10:09 PM on May 4, 2008


If you like the Sartorialist, you may like Copenhagen Cycle Chic, which has a similar format showing street fashion of stylish people on bikes. (No bike shorts or racing stripes, I promise.) The outfits there might be a good guide to what is comfortable in active and .

Some recommendations for easy, classic pieces to bring are:
- shirt dress
- trench coat (if waterproof, perfect!)
- opaque tights to cover up bare legs
- lightweight cardigan
- flats
- scarf/pashmina for extra warmth or colour
- a roomy shoulder bag to carry a day's worth of stuff (see here, here, here for inspiration)
- dark wash jeans

Agree with ThePinkSuperhero about keeping most clothes neutral while putting some colour into outfits through accessories. I also find that it's easy to make myself look fancier by adding a few choice accessories to a plain outfit - e.g. earrings, a necklace, belt with distinctive buckle.

Have fun!
posted by catburger at 12:54 AM on May 5, 2008


The outfits there might be a good guide to what is comfortable in active and .

Whoops. I meant to say "in active and moderate spring temperatures".
posted by catburger at 12:56 AM on May 5, 2008


...by which I meant to say "in active conditions and.."

I'll take this as a sign that 4 am is too late for me to still be awake.
posted by catburger at 1:02 AM on May 5, 2008


I've been alternating between a puffer jacket and a trench lately. Definitely not time yet to ditch coats or jackets. Though I've successfully gone bare-legged recently in skirts without issue. YMMV, in other words.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:09 AM on May 5, 2008


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