What to Wear When You Move to New York City From The West Coast

What to Wear When You Move to New York City From The West Coast

New coast, new closet
what to wear in nyc

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Oct 13 2019 | 8 min read

Moving can be a bitch, but some moves are more labor-intensive than others. Relocating from somewhere that gets cold to somewhere that’s always warm is, of course, pretty easy. Just throw away all your bundled-up winter layers and invest in those flip flops with the bottle opener on the bottom.

But how do you adjust the clothes you wear when, suddenly, you’re dealing with four seasons instead of, well…one?

Those brave souls who leave the warm weather of the west coast for the winters of the east coast? That’s tricky, and not everyone lives to tell the tale.

…Okay, they live, but they probably don’t stay living here for very long.

Max Berlinger has done it, and he’s here to share his secrets.

A freelance writer whose work has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, Business of Fashion and more, Max left La La Land for NYC several years ago (before ultimately moving back to LA this summer! I miss him already!).

I asked him for his perspective on how a grown man’s wardrobe can – and should – change when shifting coasts left to right. For his tips and tricks for the eastward bound, read on.

what to wear in nyc


Below, Max’s tips on what to wear in NYC:

“Well, first and foremost, I think it bears mentioning that there’s nothing more that L.A.-to-New York refugees love to talk about more than each city’s respective style.

But, really, both cities, in my opinion, are so fragmented that I like to think of them rather as two clusters of “style tribes” with no one dominant theme prevailing. Still, a case could be made for Los Angeles’s relaxed casual-cool vibe versus New York’s rigor and trendiness.

At the heart of the matter, though, the populations reflect each city’s environs:

L.A. is expansive and perennially temperate (a loving Earth Mother, if you will) while New York is compact and temperamental (a moody schoolmistress, perhaps?).

I’m a California boy at my core, and would wear a paper-thin T-shirt, cut-off shorts, and Vans (sans socks of course) {editor’s note: ob-b-b-b-viously} every damn day if I could. But I can’t. I came to the city all wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and somehow ended up in the fashion industry, with all its virtues and pitfalls.

With that fashion-y disclaimer in place, here are a few things that I keep in my closet that didn’t exist back home in sunny SoCal:

1. Boots

{Red Wing, $380}

I’ve got a few pairs, and they are essential. Take your choice. Shit-kickers or laced-up brogues, whatever’s your pleasure. Just make sure you invest in a good pair (or three) that will age well and weather the many, many storms that you’ll deal with eventually. And make sure they have good traction. It gets icy out there.

2. Layering pieces

{Uniqlo cashmere collection, various styles}

Yes, you need a heavy winter coat — a few, preferably — but you also need a few things to toss on or peel off throughout the day.

You step out into the biting cold and walk to the subway, which is stiflingly hot (and stinky) and pop back into the cold before entering your place of work which is, hopefully, a decent temperature.

All the back and forth is exhausting, so I’m stocked up on cardigans (I buy the cheap cashmere miracles available at Uniqlo in every color my bank account allows) and a few puffer vests which can be worn under a coat, over a blazer, with a sweater, etc. The possibilities are endless.

3. A light raincoat/anorak

{similar: RVCA, $60}

Here’s a little mystery I discovered when moving here: Sunny days aren’t necessarily warm and cloudy ones aren’t necessarily cold. Huh? So sometimes it’s pouring rain but warm as a summer’s day.

You need a waterproof piece of outerwear that’s lightweight as well to help combat those strange times. Plus, if it’s cold and wet, you can toss it over a heavier coat for extra protection  (layering rears its stylish-yet-functional head again!).

4. A solid suit

what to wear in nyc a suit
{J.Crew, Ludlow collection}

It’s not for everyone, but at some point you’re going to be invited to an event or party where you’ll want to be seen in a suit. Or a job interview. Or a first date with someone who’s maybe out of your league. Or, eff it, you just want to wear a goddamned suit ’cause New York men make it look so damn easy and they look so good doing it.

I like a trim blazer (if it feels a little snug in the shoulders and chest, it probably fits right) {sg note: YES-S-S-S!} and a pair of pants that fit like my favorite jeans.

A shorter rise and leaner leg is how I like it, and is easier to find these days.

A good suit can make your shoulders look broader, defines your waist, make you look taller, make you stand upright, and, in general, makes people think you’ve got your shit together, regardless if it’s true or not. Shades of Grey (no, not that one) makes a good one that won’t break the bank.

Also J. Crew, Club Monaco, and SuitSupply have all heeded the demand for quality tailoring at palatable prices.

5. A quality pair of jeans

{AG Jeans, available on Amazon}

You know what I mean. Nice jeans. That you could wear with a button-up, tie, a sweater, and a sports coat. Or with a dingy t-shirt and boat shoes or espadrilles (don’t ever wear flip-flops in New York, the street is disgusting) on your off-time.

Wear them every day until there’s deep indents for your wallet in the back pocket and your phone in the front one. I like A.P.C. Petit Standards and buy them a tad small (so it’s a little bit difficult to button the top button) and suffer for a month or two until they literally start to take the shape of my body, as if they were custom.

Denim loosens over time, remember.

This is probably the most versatile piece in my closet thanks to the loosening of office dress codes.

6. Good grooming products

lab series invigorating face scrub
{Lab Series, $30}

New York summers are humid and the winters are bitterly dry. Get an oil-absorbing face lotion, with some SPF, to help you out. Don’t get those alcohol pads that dry out your skin, they’re bad for you.

Also, I use both an antiperspirant and deodorant. I learned a trick that if you apply the antiperspirant at night, let it do its thing while you sleep, shower and wash it off in the AM and put on the deodorant in the morning, you’ll avoid the yellowing in the armpits of your white shirts. It works for me.

7. A weather app

Dark Sky app, available on the App store and Google Play

I do a few things in the morning, including check my email, Twitter, Instagram, and my horoscope from AstrologyZone.

But I always check my weather app before hitting the shower, which is when I start to plan my outfit for the day.

You want an hour-by-hour analysis of the day and, most importantly, to know what it feels like outside, rather than just the temperature (there’s a difference! Who knew?)

If you don’t have a smartphone A. get it together and B. just check it on your computer, duh. If you don’t have a computer, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Amazing! Thank you to Max for the down low on dressing for NYC. All those considering a move here, or those who are already here and trying to shape shift their wardrobe accordingly, take note!

I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.