What to Wear In New York In Summer: 7 Outfits for Siteseeing

A trip to New York in the summer is always a thrill because there are so many things to see and do. What will you be wearing when you tour Times Square, go for a carriage ride in Central Park, or take the ferry-boat over to The Statue of Liberty?

Here are five outfits to wear sightseeing, plus some handy tips for what to wear in New York in the summer.

what to wear to nyc

1. Comfortable Clothes are Key

If you are visiting NYC for the first time you might feel a lot of pressure to dress up. After all, it is one the major fashion capitals of the world. But remember, that ninety-nine percent of the time, you are going to be walking around( a lot!), shopping, touring, and doing some casual dining, so it’s more about being relaxed and comfy than looking like a supermodel.

You can dress comfy and look casually chic by adding a trendy accessory to your outfit. Wear a cool pair of sunglasses, carry a great bag or slip-on pair of trendy sneakers. Grooming is important too. A swipe of lipstick, a good manicure, and freshly washed hair go a long way to looking and feeling polished and chic.

NYC vacation outfit white pants

2. Wear Clothes that Will Keep You Cool

There are tons of online searches for what to wear in New York in July and, what to wear in New York in August since these are the two most popular months to travel to the Big Apple. They are also the hottest!

Temperatures are often in the 80’s (and can even go as high as the low 90’s in August), and it’s sticky, muggy and sweaty.  I know, I’ve been going there the first weekend in August for years.

Be sure to wear something that is cool, and that breathes. Sleeveless or short sleeve tops are perfect for summer in NYC, but if you are going to be in air-conditioned museums all day, or you are a woman who likes to cover her arms, try wearing short sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves in a light, cool fabric.


What to Wear in NYC - Floral Top with Culottes

3. Comfortable Walking Shoes are Your #1 Priority

Of all the points I’m making today, this is by far the most important. New York is a walking city. Everybody walks everywhere, and nobody is checking you out to see what shoes you have on. So do yourself a favor and find yourself the softest, most comfortable walking shoes, with arch support if necessary.

Comfortable shoes used to mean frumpy shoes, but now there’s so much choice from lightweight, flexible ballet flats to cool sneakers or chunky, soft, sports sandals. And don’t ever take new walking shoes to New York without wearing them in at home first!  Testing out new shoes in NYC is a mistake that will ruin your whole trip.NYC Vacation outfit Olive Green Crops

4. Cropped Pants are Chicer Than Shorts

Many women wonder about pants and shorts, and the bottom line is there is no rule.  Jeans are okay, but they can be hot and heavy this time of year, so if you are going to wear them in summer, make sure you get a lightweight pair with some stretch. 

Casual cropped pants that end just above the ankle are more relaxed and chicer than capris that end at mid-calf. Shorts are not as stylish, although longer, tailored walking shorts have a more sophisticated city style than short shorts which are meant for the beach. 

5. Darker Colors and Neutrals say City Life

Darker colors like navy, gray, olive, black, and khaki are more city-like than tropical brights, especially on your bottom half, and more practical too with all the city soot. That doesn’t mean you have to wear dark colors but it’s just easier to blend in. Try a darker color on your bottom half and keep your brighter colors up top if you like some color.

6. Tailored Clothes Look Less Touristy

Soft, flowy clothes in bright colors have a carefree vibe and are more suited to a Caribbean vacation than a trip to one ‘s the world’s most bustling cities. It’s only a guideline, but tailored casual clothes look chicer and less touristy than flowy loose styles. You want to look sharp in the city.

7. A Casual Skirt is a Good Idea

If you want to get some sun on your legs, but don’t want to wear shorts, then do as New Yorkers do and wear a casual summer skirt. You can choose a denim skirt, a casual pleated skirt, a soft knit jogger skirt, a chambray shirt, or a tropical print skirt. There are so many cute, casual skirts out there that you can dress down with a tee-shirt or dress up by adding fab jewelry and shoes. Skirts are very versatile and great for wearing in New York in the summer.

8.  Try a Jumpsuit

Short sleeve and sleeveless casual jumpsuits in light summery fabrics are another option. The cropped ones will keep you cool and they have a nice summery vibe. Wear them to the theatre, out to dinner or to that new art exhibition you have been dying to see. You’ll look cute and right on-trend.

What to Wear in NYC - Floral Wrap Dress

9. A Hands-Free Bag Helps 

When you’re checking out the goods at the weekend flea market on 6th Avenue, grabbing an ice cream cone at Rockefeller Center, or walking The Highline, it’s nice to be hands-free. A crossbody bag or a cute backpack with a zipper is a good idea, so you can move around and get involved.

Finally, don’t forget to bring along a pair of sunglasses. It’s bright out there, and a pair of hip sunglasses adds a good dose of New York cool! A water bottle and sunscreen are also good things to carry with you in your bag or backpack.

Whether it’s your 1st time or 40th time to the city that never sleeps, have fun, no matter what you end up wearing!

Are you going to the theatre? Here’s what to wear to a Broadway show in NYC?

Join the Conversation

6 thoughts on “What to Wear In New York In Summer: 7 Outfits for Siteseeing

  1. Thanks so much for the info on what to wear. Going in 2 weeks. Do you think Black Ecco Yucatán sandals would be appropriate? I don’t have anything that compares to what you are suggesting, but I do own these Eccos.

    1. Hi Michelle, Sure that’s fine. I prefer a closed toe shoe like a sneaker but that’s me. There are no rules. They are comfy and it is hot in August so if you are siteseeing that is fine.

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