A little over three years ago, I stepped off a plane, picked up three giant bags from the luggage claim, and began a new life in New York City. Coming from California, there were the expected adjustments to life on the other coast. Winter—as in polar-vortex, snowstorm winter—was the first, with many to follow. But, one change I didn’t quite expect was the ways in which this city would transform my sense of style and wardrobe.
No, I did not instantly transform into a clone of Carrie Bradshaw. If anything, my wardrobe skewed less peacock and more practical. Since my primary methods of transportation are now walking or taking the subway, comfort is the single most important factor when it comes to getting dressed. Shoes, even heels, must be able to survive at least a few blocks worth of trekking. And while elsewhere, it’s easy to travel with a small bag, in New York, there’s no traveling light. At any given moment, I have a tote full of gym clothes, groceries, and maybe a library book or two, making a passably stylish tote a crucial investment.
Of course, in addition to comfort, it’s important to never forget that New York is a city where great style is an expectation. But, since toting around a change of clothes is too much for even the biggest of bags, a single outfit has to get me through a myriad of activities. What I wear to the office also needs to work for evening drinks or an event after hours. I tend to balance casual staples like jeans and sneakers with more polished picks. Even on the weekends, I’ll mix and match leggings with something a little more dressed up. Because if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you never know who you might run into in New York.
Below, I’m breaking it down even more, and I’m highlighting a list of things I’ve learned to give up on since I moved to NYC. Check out my no-go list below, then shop pieces I’d recommend for city living!
1. Impractical Shoes: After one too many times walking blocks with terrible blisters, I learned my lesson. Anything that pinches, pokes, or is painful to walk in is gone for good.
2. Mini Bags: While I love the look of a little purse, for day-to-day use, I need something more practical. Now, any small bag is reserved for a night on the town, when less is more.
3. White Pants: I love the look of white pants, but New York is an unpredictable city, and it’s just too tricky to keep white pants clean. From rogue puddle splashes to messy lunches on the go, white pants are better left for somewhere a little more pristine.
4. Work Clothes That Don’t Transition: As I mentioned before, whatever I wear needs to be able to take me from work to whatever I have afterward. This means office dressing should be polished but never stuffy.
5. Loose, Cotton Sweatpants: Okay, so I may have a pair of sweats sitting in a drawer at home, but when I leave the house, I stick by the no sweatpants rule to a fault (leggings are fair game). Since it’s not unusual to run into a boss or former tinder date on the street (both have happened to me more than once), I like to make sure I’m prepared.
6. Bohemian Dresses: Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of bohemian dresses, but these flowy styles aren’t suited for the city. From getting caught when you’re on the run to getting blow over my head by a rogue wind or subway grate, I’ve learned to save these dresses for the beach.
SHOP PIECES PERFECT FOR NEW YORK
Florals can work for the city, just go for a cut of dress that doesn’t feel too bohemian.
Achro Button Detail Wrap Skirt ($139)
Unexpected buttons give this skirt a fun spin.
Woman by Common Projects Original Achilles ($411)
A polished pair of sneakers is my go-to for a day when I’m busy running between appointments.
Ganni Oakwood Jumpsuit ($240)
A jumpsuit is the ideal one-and-done piece when I’m in a hurry.
There’s no bag too big when you live in New York.