Advice for Dressing Like a Native New Yorker

Advice for Dressing Like a Native New Yorker
Advice for Dressing Like a Native New Yorker

New to “The Big Apple” and want to fit right in? The dressing you’ve seen so far might be confusing, but there is actually an order to the chaos. There is a formula to it- NYC dressing means sleek and stylish- but that could range from casual to high-end fashion. No need to fret, we’ve brought you expert opinions from the NYC Fashion Industry and of course Native New Yorkers that will help you set up your wardrobe. 

Keeping It Simple

“Native New Yorkers wear simple, sleek items of clothing in classic colors but aren’t afraid to express their confidence, for example when layering a plain white tee over a silky slip dress for an ensemble with an edge. Oversized shirts and floaty wide-leg trousers are preferable to skinny jeans and leggings are a no except for gym sessions. However, given the scale of the city, you’ll often see New York residents sporting trainers. The cleaner the better. For practical on-trend looks, they boldly mix these athleisure or sports-luxe pieces with tailored blazers and skirts. It should also be noted that the ‘how’ is as important as the ‘what’ when it comes to NYC fashion. Clutch bags held in the crux of the arm and draped jackets are themselves accessorized with New York confidence.”

Harpa Grétarsdóttir, Fashion Marketing Specialist, at Icewear


Accessorizing is a subtle part of it that matters a lot to the overall look. Classy jewelry, a chic handbag, complete the look with style. “As a born and raised New Yorker, I can testify that the simplest way to dress like a New Yorker is by adding a pair of small, thick gold hoop earrings to your outfit. Hoops instantly give the effortless chic but tough New York look.” 

Alexis Taub, co-founder of Alexis Jae Jewelry

Making a Fashion Statement

“Dressing like a native New Yorker with simple with a few key items. First, you will need a black leather bomber stat. Adding this to any look, daytime, evening and everything in between, is a must. Mix it up with either pointed toe stilettos (for your fabulous evening activities) or funky sneakers (this IS a walking city) and you are instantly a New


Amy Salinger, NYC Fashion Expert, Style Method NYC

Go Black

NYC rule of thumb for dressing- when in doubt- wear black. “I’ve been a New Yorker for well over thirty years and if you want to dress more like a local New Yorker, you should definitely wear black. Seriously, it’s our favorite color and you will immediately look more like a local New Yorker if you wear a casual, little black dress or a pair of black pants with a chic top. To really enhance the look, try and mix and match textures in your outfit to make it a bit more interesting. So maybe wear a sheer blouse with black denim pants. Also, skip the high heels and pair your outfit with some chic, slip-on flats from Steve Madden that you can comfortably walk around in. Finally, add a pair of sunglasses to complete your ensemble since New Yorkers rock these on any day that ends in Y.”

Kelly Duhigg, Girl with the Passport

Own Your Look

“Two types of dress codes in NYC. I don’t want to be seen, and I must be seen. For the first, the key is to blend in. Black never fails. I wear jeans and a black T-shirt and you couldn’t pick me out of a lineup at the Midtown North precinct. This dress code usually applies on the subway, during commutes, and role getting coffee or a baconeggandcheeseonarollwithsaktpepperketchup. And yes, that’s all pronounced as one word. The other is as crazy as you want to go. Want to spend $10k on a designer no one’s heard of so you’ll be remembered as the first to wear it? Go for it. Want to find a thrift store hidden gem and own it as your look? Go for It. That’s what makes NYC so incredible. There simply are no rules. I went to the high school of performing arts (the FAME school) back in the 80s, and learned from those who went on to be mega famous: Whatever you wear you and however you wear it, own it. That’s NYC fashion.”

Peter Shankman, Founder of HARO, The Faster Than Normal ADHD Podcast

You could come up with a new style, your own signature and fit right in too.

“Innerwear as outerwear is making a resurgence in the city. During the pandemic, New Yorkers stayed home and experimented with their style. Interest in sexier, more risque intimates really spiked during the lockdown, and it’s a trend that is sticking around as people begin to hit the streets again. Feeling comfortable and confident in your apparel is the key to dressing like a true New Yorker. Lace bodysuits, silk kimonos and colorful or daring bras are all items we turned to during the pandemic to make us feel better, so it’s natural that they now become part of your ready-to-wear wardrobe.”

Libby Basile, Founder Filly Rose Intimates

Don’t forget the shoes! It’s the city where most walk, so get the right footwear- Casual comfort with style! As NYC’s fashion icon and grande dame of style says, Iris Apfel says, “If you’ve got good shoes, you can get away with anything!”

There you go, now you look like a regular New Yorker.

Scott is the editor-in-chief of Spice Market New York. He is also an author and publisher of his own craft.