Wondering what to wear in New York in the fall? We got you. Let’s be completely honest — we wait all year for fall to arrive in New York City. It’s the time of year when the Big Apple turns into the fairytale town you see in Nora Ephron movies — crisp breezes, leaves blowing gently over the steps of the city’s finest brownstones, and of course, stylish New Yorkers strolling the sidewalks with coffee in hand.
But even if you’ve already plotted out your itinerary of seasonal things to do in NYC in fall and all the breathtaking places to see fall foliage in New York City, there’s one thing left: figuring out what to wear in New York in fall.
Will it be close to 75 degrees or way down in the 40s?
How do you dress for a day that will take you from the museum to cocktails to a Broadway show without having to waste time going back and forth from your hotel?
We’ve got the answers ahead — follow along on our complete guide to building your NYC packing list for fall so that you can focus on the important things, like browsing a charming bookstore or grabbing your ideal New York City bagel on your ultimate New York City fall adventure.
We will aide you in deciding what to wear in New York in the fall. If you follow the links below, we’ve curated specific styles that are ‘in’ this season!
Disclaimer: This post contains commissionable links.
Average NYC Fall Weather
Much like in summer and spring, what to wear in New York in fall vastly depends on how far into the season we are. Fall is generally a very pleasant and temperate time of year in the city, but your definition of temperate may vary depending on what you’re used to!
For reference, September temperatures in New York usually vary between 61 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit, October falls between 50 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, and November ranges between 42 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are also, of course, unseasonably warm and cold days peppered throughout the season, so we recommend having a few “outlier” options on your New York packing list for fall just in case you’re hit with an unexpectedly hot or cold day.
New York Packing List for Fall
The Go-Tos for NYC Fall Dressing
If I can preach but one guiding principle while you build a New York fall packing list, it’s this: bring lots of layers! In addition to a wide variety of temperatures throughout the season, New York in the fall is also the kind of climate where an early morning or evening activity requires a sweater and the middle of the day is far too hot to don one.
The best way to conquer your NYC packing list for fall without overloading your suitcase is to pack multiple mix-and-match pieces that won’t require you to fully change your outfit.
How do you put together a packing list for NYC in fall full of coordinated layers? It’s time to break down what to wear in New York in fall.
First, look at your itinerary for each day — are you largely going to be indoors? You may be fine with a lighter jacket or blazer.
Next, look at the kind of activities you’re planning for each day — heading out on the town for a day of casually browsing New York’s best coffee shops will require a different set of layers than a Broadway matinee followed by a five-course steak dinner.
When in doubt, wear comfortable shoes no matter what you’ve got planned — there’s nothing worse than being out on the town in blister-inducing footwear. And besides, nothing says “chic New Yorker” like adhering to the “wrong-shoe theory”.
Here are some of my favorite layering combinations for what to wear in NYC in fall:
Fall Combo #1: Jeans + t-shirt + leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer + fashion sneakers: A New York City fall packing list classic. This look goes from diner breakfast to museum to coffee in the park to downtown dive bar to uptown cafe with ease. If you want to dial things up a bit, throw a block heel or boot into the mix.
Fall Combo #2: Monochromatic wide-leg trousers + oversized sweater + fashion sneakers or stylish oxford/loafer: This look is as versatile as the jeans+ t-shirt combo, but well-suited for colder weather. If it’s really cold, add an oversized wool coat on top for a very “off-duty celebrity vibe.”
Fall Combo #3: Oversized sweater + wide leg jeans + sneaker/boot: This outfit can take you almost anywhere and should be a go-to on your NYC packing list for fall. If it’s cold, throw on a trench coat or wool coat to complete the look.
Fall Combo #4: Maxi-skirt/maxi-dress + t-shirt +leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer/cardigan + fashion sneakers/lug sole boot: A comfortable and put-together option for your New York fall packing list that you can adjust to the weather with your choice of outerwear.
Fall Combo #5: Joggers + t-shirt + leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer/cardigan + fashion sneakers + baseball hat: A great casual choice on your New York packing list for fall that works well for all-day sightseeing or walking the Brooklyn Bridge.
Fall Combo #6: Long slip dress + leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer/cardigan/oversized sweater + fashion sneakers: A much-loved day-to-night choice for what to wear in NYC in fall. Fashion sneakers are pretty well accepted at even the most glitzy of establishments as long as the rest of the look feels pulled together.
Fall Combo #7: Long slip dress + crewneck sweatshirt/sweater + fashion sneakers: A stylish way to look like you were out gallivanting all night and picked up a sweatshirt at dawn — even if you were tucked into bed by 10!
Fall Combo #9: Monochromatic suit + fashion sneakers/fall boot: The best part about adding a suit to your NYC packing list for fall is the ability to not only rock the entire suit as a look, but to mix and match the separates as needed. Have a warmer day? Suit pants with a graphic T-shirt and sneakers are on the menu. Save the suit blazer for a colder day to rock with jeans, boots, and some kickin’ shades for an instantly polished look.
Fall Combo #10: Activewear sets + leather jacket/jean jacket/blazer/cardigan/oversized sweater + fashion sneakers: If you’re wondering what to wear in New York in fall while staying super comfortable, activewear sets are your secret ingredient! Throw on an outer layer to evoke all of your favorite celebrity paparazzi photos.
Looking for additional inspiration? There are plenty of New York-based fashion accounts to follow for every kind of style — Harling Ross Anton, Aiyana Ishmael, Vesper Ireland, Everything Omega, Helena Glazer Hodne, Jalil Johnson, Gabby Prescod, Natalie Lim Suarez, and Katie Sturino among many others!
New York Fall Packing Accessories
When it comes to planning your packing list for NYC in fall, accessories are a key part of the process.
First, let’s talk shoes. As a walking city, sneakers are the go-to for most New Yorkers on the move. Thankfully, the fashion world has gotten on board with sneakers as a chic accent for nearly any outfit — where were they in 2007 when we were all injuring ourselves with sky-high platform stilettos?
But I digress. Unless you’re headed to a very formal event, sneakers are perfectly acceptable footwear in most NYC establishments.
If you are in the mood to get fancy, I suggest selecting block heels or sturdy-heeled boots for heading out on the town. And if a stiletto is the answer to your sartorial prayers, I still support you!! Just be sure to break them in before you wear them.
Given the city’s wide range of temperatures, it’s unlikely that you’ll get sunburned in the fall. But as you’re putting together your New York fall packing list, I’d still recommend bringing at least one small bottle of facial sunscreen — you’ll still be outside for extended periods of time!
While we’re on the subject, it’s a good idea to add at least one hat and sunglasses in your packing list for fall in NYC — you don’t want to spend the majority of your day squinting at the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty!
Another essential tip for planning the perfect New York packing list for fall is your choice of bags. The good news? NYC is a town chock-full of bag enthusiasts who must carry an entire day’s worth of needs out with them in the world.
You won’t look out of place with a large backpack or tote bag (pro-tip: snag a tote from one of the city’s many independent merch-friendly businesses to give off a true New Yorker vibe. Or subscribe to the magazine!).
If you’d prefer a more hands-free approach to what to wear in NYC in fall, a crossbody purse or belt bag is a great way to store your wallet, phone, and other essentials without fuss.
If you’re wondering what to wear in New York in fall when rain is in the forecast, we recommend packing a few lightweight, waterproof layers that you can easily take on and off in the event of showers.
A lightweight rain shell and umbrella will get you through most rainstorms, and in the event of heavier rain, a water-resistant trench coat is both stylish and practical. If there’s a chance of a cold snap, a foldable, lightweight down jacket or vest is also an easy way to stay prepared for any kind of weather and travel light!
Even though temperatures don’t usually come close to the muggy averages of a New York summer, it’s a good idea to carry a water bottle with you for all-day hydration! While I love a gigantic Stanley as much as the next gal, it might be easier to snag a collapsible water bottle to fold up when not in use.
If there’s one key accessory I’d recommend adding to your NYC packing list for fall — it’s a portable phone charger. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to snap the perfect Central Park foliage pic just because your battery is dead — whether you choose a plug-in brick or a magnetic case attachment, a portable phone charger will save you from spending your trip shackled to a coffee shop outlet and from buying an overpriced charger at a Times Square Duane Reade.
But whether you choose to pack a checked bag worthy of a three-month stay or contain yourself to a weekender duffle, we hope this guide has helped you parse out what to wear in NYC in fall — and get back to the business of becoming Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. Happy trails!
Your NYC Fall Packing Checklist:
- Your own choice of undergarments and pajamas!
- Long dress
- Midi dress
- Mini dress
- Jean jacket
- Button-up shirt
- Leather jacket
- Trench coat
- Wool coat
- Wide-leg trousers
- Activewear sets
- Foldable down jacket or vest
- Block heel (optional)
- Loafer (optional)
- Combat boot (optional)
- Baseball hat or sun hat
- Tote bag
- Cross-body purse
- Cross-body belt bag
- Small travel umbrella
- Foldable rain shell/ Rain jacket
- Water bottle
- Portable phone charger
About Guest Author
Sarah Beling is a playwright, New Yorker, and passionate food enthusiast who is always looking for her next meal. You can find her in an NYC park, enjoying a chopped cheese sandwich and reading about NYC’s best new places to eat.
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