Fall & Winter

What to Wear in New York in December

Hi Deborah,

I’m off to NYC to do some Christmas shopping, and I’m wondering what to wear in New York in December? I’m assuming it is going to be cold and we will be doing a lot of walking along 5th Avenue as well as popping into Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Can you give me some ideas for shopping outfits that would be appropriate weather-wise, and also look nice when I stop for lunch?  Thanks, Tina

Hi Tina,

Wow, New York in December! I was there last year this time, and it was magical. You are going to love all the gigantic Christmas decorations, the skaters at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas markets, and the buzz from all the excited holiday shoppers. As we all know, the weather, in general, is pretty unpredictable these days, but according to the Weather stats,  New York in December is as follows:

  • Average Daytime Temperature is low 40’s -50’s F and sometimes low 60’s F. Average daily temp is: 46 F (8C)
  • Average Overnight Temperatures: 32 F (0C)
  • Early December starts off warmer, and as the month progresses it gets colder
  • Most of December is sunny or partly sunny,
  • Rain – usually 8-10 days of rain and cold.
  • As for snow – usually, 2-3 days of snow but not usually more than one inch

My Trip to NYC in December

When I  was there on Dec 5th last year, it was sunny and chilly in the morning and very cold and snowing like crazy in the afternoon.

What to Wear in New York in December

Here’s me in sunny weather, then up to my eyeballs in big, wet snowflakes. You can see I wore a really warm, but lightweight parka, thick leggings, with a thin sweater underneath and over-the-knee suede boots.

So glad I had tucked a wooly faux fur-trimmed hat into my purse because I needed it once the snow started falling. You are best to check with the weather channel to see what is predicted while you are there but here are a few outfits to cover most weather.

If you are wondering what to wear in NYC in December, you will need: 

What to Wear in NYC in December - Lilac wool Parka and jeans outfit

1.  Warm, Comfy Boots

A good pair of boots should be at the top of your list because it is going to be cold and you are going to be walking a lot. Many women like riding boots or over-the-knee boots to wear with jeans and these are just fine so long as they are fairly flat or have a low heel. They shouldn’t pinch your toes, and they need to be waterproof.

If you have a fancy pair of boots that you think would make you look chic walking around NY but are more for the show, don’t wear them because if it snows and it is slushy, they will get messy! You’ve gotta be real.

Short booties are fine too. Suede booties are very popular and look classy. If you want to be really practical, then go for a hiking boot style that laces up the front. These won’t let you down and can look quite stylish with leggings or jeans. See the collage two below with the burgundy parka and these types of boots.

2.  A Cozy, Lightweight Coat

As I mentioned earlier,  a warm coat to keep you toasty is important, but you don’t want to wear anything too heavy if you are going in and out of stores. You may want to slip off your coat if you are in a hot store, and you certainly don’t want the hassle of carrying a heavy coat on your arm with all those shopping bags!

Some women like lightweight cloth coats or puffy light parkas. Faux fur coats are very popular and look very hip. I would just avoid anything too bulky and heavy or it will be suffocating. What to Wear in New York in December Fauz Fur coat and Booties

3.  Jeans with Stretch are Perfect 

Jeans are my favorite option for shopping. Make sure they are stretchy and light and that you can slip in and out of them easily if you have to try something on. Leggings are another fantastic option, but not the thin type, or you will freeze your legs. Try a thicker Ponte legging and a long top or tunic to cover your bottom.

What to Wear in New York in December | Parka, jeans and waterproof boots



4.  Take Gloves, a Hat, Maybe even a Scarf

If they are calling for snow you will definitely need gloves, maybe a hat and a scarf is a good idea too.  You’ll have to play it by ear and watch the weather reports because if you don’t need these, carrying them around in your purse or shopping bag can be a drag..however when you need them; you really need them.

Also, keep in mind that you need to shop with a purse that you don’t mind getting wet because it will get wet if it snows. If you happen to be carrying your new velvet Gucci bag, you are not going to be too happy about this.

Also, make sure to bring a purse that isn’t too heavy, or that is loaded down with hardware and that you can carry over your shoulder or crossbody. Avoid loading it up with too much personal stuff inside. It can get very tiring, very fast, carrying a clunky bag that drags you down, especially when you are juggling shopping bags. Talk about an energy zapper!

NYC - Ruffle Poncho


5.  The Key is to Layer

The key to colder weather in New York or anywhere is to layer. Layer a sweater or top, with a scarf, and a coat. This way you can add or subtract during the day depending on how the weather goes.

If you are going to NYC more towards the end of November or the weather report doesn’t look too bad for early December, you may want to take along a warm, classy poncho to layer over jeans or leggings. This may not work for a day of shopping, but if you are catching a cab to dinner and then back to the hotel, then a wooly cape or poncho can look chic especially worn with fab boots.

This is just an extra option you might think about tucking into your suitcase.

Tina, I hope you have a marvelous time be sure to get out and see the giant holiday tree at Rockefeller Center and send me a photo of you there! Happy Holidays. Deborah

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