City Guide: 7 Ways To Survive Winter In NYC
With the city hit by offensively cold temperatures (aka #bombcyclone) last weekend, it felt like the perfect time to share what I've learned about the foreign concept of "winter" since moving to NYC.
Growing up in Southern California, seasons felt like a social construct that just gave people the excuse to wear fur coats once the temperature dropped below 70 degrees. The warmest jacket I owned was a little beach windbreaker and I didn't understand why anyone would even consider wearing wool. Seriously...it's so scratchy. But lo and behold, this California girl somehow found herself on the east coast—a magical place where seasons actually exist.
I've been in NYC a year and a half now and although I survived one particularly mild winter, we're entering into a second that already appears to be much less forgiving. So, for anyone else out there who has moved to the city completely unprepared for their first snowy season, here's what I've learned—through sheer trial and error—about surviving winter in NYC.
7 Tips To SurvIve Your First Winter in NYC
1. Invest In An Ugly, Yet Functional Coat
I will be the first to admit...I really hate my winter jacket. But honestly, it was the best I could do on a budget, and even the more expensive alternatives were still kind of depressing. Dropping $1K for a puffy coat that no one looks that great in seems like a hard sell to me. That said, if I had unlimited spending money and wasn't already saving up for a new DSLR camera, I would totally splurge on one of Mackage's down coats to at least look like a chic marshmallow.
I'd also highly recommend buying a few lightweight down jackets to layer underneath your coats for added warmth. Uniqlo has some great options in their "Ultra Light Down" collection; I currently own a down bomber and mid-length coat from them that I wear all the time.
In terms of layering, here are my rules of thumb:
40-50 degrees - heavy wool coat (love my Everlane Cocoon Coat) + sweater
35-40 degrees - heavy wool coat + sweater + down layer
20-35 degrees - puffy coat + sweater + down layer
Under 20 degrees - plan a vacation or just pay the $1k for that nice winter coat—thought I had multiple times last weekend as the temperature dropped down to 1 degree. ONE.
2. Bundle Up With Cashmere Accessories
Continuing the trend of "investment" pieces, my cashmere hat and scarf have saved me as the temperatures start to drop. I still struggle with the itchiness of wool, so cashmere accessories have become wardrobe staples. I snagged my favorite scarf from Everlane's West Village pop-up last year (similar here) and have been wearing Madewell's black beanie nonstop. Note: make sure your beanie is extra snug to keep out the wind chill! Trendy slouchy beanies will not cut it in actual winter...
If I was extra fancy I would also buy cashmere gloves, but for now I've settled on these fleece-lined ones from Aritzia.
3. Buy Winter Boots You'll Actually Wear Out
New Yorkers are famous for the 2 shoe trick: one pair for the office and one for the road. However, I don't love keeping things in different places (aka anything left at my boyfriend's apartment is lost forever) so this strategy doesn't work for me. Instead, I found a pair of winter boots that aren't ridiculously clunky and still look somewhat chic with normal clothes. So, if you are in need of some solid winter boots, these UGG boots are my go-to. That's right, I wear UGGS now. Who would have thought!?
4. Combat Building-Controlled Heat With A Humidifier
Another thing people don't tell you about living in a New York City walk-up: building controlled heat is both a blessing and a curse. PRO: My apartment never gets that cold—aside from the freezing draft coming from my closet. I'm convinced there is a ghost in there...a story for another time. CON: I often find myself uncomfortably hot during the coldest days of the year. The worst part is, the heat makes the air so dry that I have actually woken up feeling sick. To counteract the dryness, I bought this humidifier from Amazon and turn it on whenever the room is starting to feel especially dry. Your skin (and voice) will thank me later!
5. Fight The Winter Blues By Becoming A Plant Lady
I'm not going to lie, the winter blues are real. Last year, by February the dreary weather was really starting to get to me. Luckily, most corner bodegas and flower shops stay stocked with houseplants year-round to help combat the inevitable case of seasonal depression. So, I went a little crazy and bought 3 new potted plants (my adult version of "impluse" shopping?) to make my apartment feel more spring-y.
If you are looking to buy some affordable plants in bulk, check out the NYC Flower District on 28th street between 6th and 7th Ave. I found my prized fiddle leaf fig tree for a great price at Starbright Floral and am now a proud #plantmom.
6. Find Your Go-To Winter Bars
The upside of never-ending winters is the never-ending number of cute and cozy bars in the city. While some spots flourish in the summer, others feel like they were made to help people survive the colder months. My list is endless, but if I had to choose I'd say you can't go wrong with a hot toddy at Wilfie and Nell (hint: go on off hours to avoid the "finance" crowd...unless that's your thing), a glass of red at Chumley's, or apps and beer at Cafe Select. Also, if you ever find yourself craving a cozy meal in the middle of a snow storm, Carroll Place is 100% blizzard approved and probably one of the few places that'll actually be open.
7. Think Of Snow Days As Mental Health Days
As a SoCal kid, I obviously never had a Snow Day—I genuinely thought they were just something that happened in movies. So, imagine my surprise when the first blizzard hit last year and...I kind of liked it? Despite being cooped up in my 300 sq. foot apartment all day, there was something freeing about knowing I simply couldn't go to the office.
Working from home every once in a while helps me feel more centered and generally just improves my well-being. So, I'd like to think of a Snow Day as a mandatory "WFH" Day that aids in all of the above.
Case in point: there is literally nothing better than seeing this^ outside and knowing you get to stay in your pajamas all day.
So, there you have it. My tips for making the next few months a little more bearable. Although I only have one NYC winter under my belt, I'm hoping these tips will help me stick around for many more.