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What to Wear in New York City in the Spring (Packing List & Outfit Ideas)

What to wear in New York City in the Spring
Wearing: Trench Coat | Sweater | Sunglasses | Similar Shoes | Good pair of jeans

This helpful list of what to wear in New York City in the spring was written by Antonina Pattiz, founder of New York Simply (an official partner of Apple Maps). So happy to have you here!

Packing for NYC in the spring can be a confusing affair. The days fluctuate between chilly and mild, so packing the right clothes is essential to make sure you stay comfortable. In an effort to make things easier on you, I’ve created a fool-proof NYC spring packing list from a local’s perspective. Longtime readers know that I’m not one for small talk, so let’s dive right in!

Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The 10 Best Neighborhoods for First Timers & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.

Washington Square Park in the spring

What to Wear in New York City in Spring (& Outfit Ideas)

(Table of Contents)

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Visiting New York City in the spring, what to wear

Step 1: Comfortable Sweaters & Long-Sleeve Shirts

I’ve learned that when packing sweaters, some strategy is required. Too thick, and you’ll pay the price when you find yourself peeling off layers on a subway platform. Too thin, and you’ll feel instant regret when the wind blows and you find yourself ducking into a cafe for shelter.

When thinking about what to wear in New York City in the spring, consider packing sweaters that are breathable and light, they make layering a breeze. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve learned to purchase mostly cashmere-blend sweaters to get me through the chilly morning and evenings.

Long-time readers know that my most worn sweater is this gem (worth every penny), closely followed by this one (which I have in 2 colors). But, at the end of the day, you know how your body deals with cold weather best, so pack whatever feels right to you. If helpful, here’s the exact sweaters I have on rotation in my wardrobe:

Worth Mention: If you’re visiting New York City in the early spring (March 20 through mid-April), you’ll need to pack long-sleeve t-shirts to wear under your sweaters. If you run cold like me, it might be helpful to pack these thermal layers (the only brand I buy).

NYC Spring outfit ideas
My exact dress is here (used) | Similar Dress | Another Great Option

Step 2: Maxi Dresses

Offering a blend of comfort and style, breathable maxi dresses are a perfect choice when deciding what to wear in NYC in the spring (especially as we get closer to the summer months. Simply toss a jacket over the dress and you’re set for the day.

I especially love wearing maxi dresses in the spring in NYC because they can easily be layered under sweaters (making the dress look like a skirt). I’m a huge fan of packing light and try to get as much use as possible out of a single item — maxi dresses give me the most bang for my buck. All this to say, maxi dresses are an essential thing to pack for New York City in the spring.

Best Coats to Pack When Visiting NYC in the Spring

what to wear in NYC in the Spring
Wearing: Trench Coat | Sweater | Sunglasses | Similar Shoes | Good pair of jeans

#1. The Classic Trench Coat

Practical and stylish, a classic trench coat is an ideal choice for NYC’s moody spring weather. Spring in the city can be unpredictable, from unannounced showers to fluctuating temperatures, having a coat that’s water-resistant, lightweight and warm is a must when visiting New York City in the spring.

The best part? Trench coats are versatile and stylish enough to transition from casual daytime wear to fancy outings (like nice dinners and Broadway shows). It’s smart, it’s stylish and it doesn’t ask for much, adding a trench coat to your New York City spring outfit ideas is a no-brainer! If interested, here’s my go-to trench coat (I’ve owned it for years, it’s a great deal for the quality).

New York City Spring Outfit Ideas, how to style Annie Bing jean jacket, East Village
My favorite jean jacket (ever, ever!), but size down | fun pants | similar sunglasses

#2. An Oversized Jean Jacket

An oversized jean jacket is the quintessential NYC spring clothing essential. Effortlessly easy to style, durable denim provides just the right amount of warmth for the city’s mild spring weather (which tends to kick in around the end of April).

Ideal for layering over everything from casual tees to spring dresses, this is a timeless wardrobe staple great for those wondering what to pack for NYC in the spring. Whether you’re strolling through Central Park, browsing boutiques in SoHo, or catching a rooftop sunset, a jean jacket adds an effortlessly cool vibe to any spring outfit in New York City.

Closer look at the best jean jacket

cool things to do in SoHo NYC, blazer spring weather NYC
Jeans | Similar Shoes | Sweater | Blazer | Sunglasses

Plan B: Stylish Tailored Blazer

As I get older, I’m noticing that my style tends to lean more relaxed (oversized jean jacket), but if you feel more put together in a blazer, you go, girl! I consider a tailored blazer a staple in my spring NYC wardrobe for casual date nights.

There’s something about a good blazer that makes me feel put together without much effort, I’m all about shortcuts (and this one is a breeze!). Here’s the one blazer I own (yes, really – ha! I’m not fancy enough for two).

Shopping on Madison Ave in the Upper East Side, Spring outfit ideas for NYC
Wool Coat (size down) | Boots | Sweater | Scarf

#3. Quality Wool Coat (Great for Early Spring)

If you only take away one bit of advice from this list of New York City spring outfit ideas, let it be this: the best investment you’ll make is purchasing a good quality (preferably stylish) wool coat that will keep you warm in the evenings.

After years of living through chilly winters and springs in NYC, I finally decided to buy a high quality wool coat that looks stylish and doesn’t break the bank. I was so impressed by the quality that I bought another color the following year. All told, I’ve had this navy wool coat for 4 years and it still looks new. I can’t recommend it enough.

With daily March temperatures averaging between 46°F to 55°F, you can’t afford to skimp on a good quality wool coat while planning outfits for NYC in spring. UPDATE: A reader recommended this super-discounted sale option, what a find!

Comfortable but cute walking shoes to wear in NYC in the spring
Similar coat, same brand | Booties (if sold out, they might still be available here)

Comfortable Walking Shoes

When people ask me for advice on what to wear in New York City in the spring, without a doubt I always mention that good shoes are non-negotiable. The second your sneakers get wet or your toes freeze because there isn’t enough insulation in your shoes, misery kicks in. You want nothing more than to head back to the hotel and call it an early day.

If helpful, I’ve owned these boots for three years now and recommend them to anyone and everyone. You May Find This Helpful: 10 Best Shoes to Wear for Walking Around New York City (by Season)

What to Pack for NYC in Spring (Let’s Talk Materials)

  • Wool: The material is tried and true and has been used for thousands of years. Made from sheep hair, wool holds heat and is somewhat resistant to water.
  • Fleece: Fleece was created to replicate the benefits of wool. The material is light weight and inexpensive but still keeps you warm.
  • Cashmere: Cashmere is considered to be luxurious and softer than traditional wool. Although not quite as warm as wool, it’s a popular light-weight material used in sweaters and scarves.
  • Silk: Silk is one of the best materials to wear in New York in the spring of how tightly woven the fabric is when created. This acts like an insulator and keeps your body heat trapped in the fabric.
  • Down: Down serves as both insulation and padding and is commonly found in winter and spring coats. Whether you get a coat with synthetic feather or natural feathers, down is some of the best material to keep you warm while planning on what to wear in NYC in the spring.

New York City Spring Packing List (NYC Spring Outfit Ideas)

  1. Comfortable Sweaters (2-3)
  2. Maxi Dress (1-2)
  3. Trench Coat
  4. Jean Jacket
  5. Wool Coat
  6. Comfortable Shoes 

And there you have it, that is everything you need to know about what to pack for New York City in the spring. We hope you found this list helpful and now you can comfortably enjoy exploring NYC in March, April and May!