The first snow in New York City is always beautiful. The streets are quiet, the fluffy flakes blanket the trees and parked cars, the city feels peaceful. Unfortunately, the beauty only lasts until the next morning, when the sidewalks are covered in gray slush and the streets are all one massive puddle. To withstand the freezing temperatures and whipping winds, I’ve acquired New York winter wardrobe staples — warm layers that I couldn’t survive the without.
Typically once every winter, I ask myself why I don’t live outside of the Northeast. While I love New York, I also love the idea of mild winters where the temperature doesn’t dip below 40°. Those internal conversations don’t last too long, though, because right now, I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. And besides, if I moved, what would I do with all of my winter clothes?
It’s taken me years to build my winter wardrobe (and it’s still a work in progress). It took me a while to realize that cheap sweaters, coats, and accessories will never stand up to the New York City temperatures. I also learned the art of thoughtful layering. While I love a simple sweater, I now know the beauty of adding a base layer underneath for added warmth. I also found that socks taller than ankle height can add more color and texture to a look, rather than take away from it. Basically, layering doesn’t have to be boring.
Ahead, I’ve broken down the key items I’ve invested in over the years to build my ideal winter wardrobe and shared a few pieces I wear on repeat (and a few from my wishlist as well).
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New York City is incredibly windy in the wintertime, so a beanie is a must-have. I love wearing a bright, colorful beanie to make my outfit a bit more unique, or so my friends can pick me out in a crowd. Also, for those who tend to choose neutral outerwear, a vibrant hat is the perfect accessory. Not to mention, it makes a great holiday gift. Picking out clothing for a friend or family member is a daunting task, so I try to buy people a really nice winter accessory that they wouldn’t think to purchase for themselves.
If New Yorkers are known for one thing in the winter, it’s our extravagant outerwear. When I know that I really need to stay warm outside, I always reach for my puffer. A puffer jacket is appropriate for almost any occasion: Heading to a workout, trekking into the office, walking to a restaurant for dinner, the list is endless. The puffer market is endless, as well. You can find a puffer in almost any fabric these days from shearling to leather. Neutral tones? No worries. Statement colors and patterns? Not a problem. Anyone can find a puffer that fits their style.
Standout turtlenecks are my favorite winter styling hack. I’m sure we’ve all experienced walking inside on a cold day and sweatily peeling off all of your layers. While I can’t solve this temperature-related dilemma, I can provide a base layer that’ll make ditching your jacket and sweaters a pleasing process. No hate to basic black turtlenecks, but patterned ones are just better. A few styling ideas: layer underneath a crewneck sweater, style with a slip skirt for a night out, or throw under a button-down shirt.
Exposed ankles are a big no-no if you’re trying to stay warm. If, like me, you tend to wear ankle-length jeans, it’s time to invest in socks that’ll keep you protected from wind chill. A sock can also be a good opportunity to add some color to an otherwise neutral outfit. My favorite shoes to wear with a thicker sock are loafers and sneakers. I’ve been wearing my black Calvin Klein Marli Loafers and Staud x New Balance’s 574 Raincloud Sneakers on repeat this fall, and I don’t plan on stopping this winter. Thick socks will transition your fall footwear into winter with ease.
An oversized scarf is the cherry on top of a bundled winter outfit. These scarves are thick enough to keep your upper body warm, and long enough to style differently every time you wear them. Similar to beanies, I tend to gravitate towards colorful, patterned scarves to add a pop of color to any outfit. When looking at thickness, I always compare it to Lenny Kravitz’s famous scarf moment (because who wouldn’t want to be that cozy?).