What to Wear in New York in August: A Helpful Packing Guide

They say there’s nothing like summer in the city, but figuring out what to wear in New York in August is another story. Before my first visit to New York City, I had all sorts of glamorized ideas about all the people who lived there and their exciting, high-style lives. Though there are nuances to the dress code of a native New Yorker, the reality of how they act and dress is far different than what I had expected.

Yes, New York City is a fashion capital of the world, but more noteworthy than the brands themselves is the diversity of people, cultures, and styles encompassing New York City. So when you’re packing for New York, do your own thing. Pack the looks that make you feel most confident and comfortable no matter the time of year. Feeling good in what you wear will make all the difference and ensure you always have a great time.

Remember, you’re on vacation, so dress how you want. Many people you might see on New York streets are dressed for work or some other event. So, you cannot always assume how you see them is how they would prefer to dress.

After a few trips to New York City, the key points I have learned when packing involves three things. Check average temperatures, pick comfortable shoes first, and plan outfits around the different activities and highlights we have scheduled. After reading this article, you will know the best things to pack for sunny days in The Big Apple. 

Average High Temperatures for August

August in New York City is typically the hottest of the summer months, followed closely by July. With average temperatures lingering around 75 degrees and high humidity, it can feel even hotter. Not to mention sticky, too. It’s rare for average high temperatures to exceed 80 degrees, but there are the occasional 90-degree days this time of year.

Though the tall buildings can provide some shade on sunny days, there is often little to no other relief from the summer heat. Your best hope for a cool breeze is the gush of A/C coming from a department store entrance as you walk in. Early August is also likely to have frequent rain, which makes for more humid days.

But there are a few ways to manage the summer heat during the hottest months. The first way to beat the worst of the heat is to time your outdoor activities early in the day, preferably before 10:00 am. Once temperatures start to rise, they won’t usually begin to cool down until around 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm.

A classic summer packing tip is to choose lighter-colored clothing that will absorb less sunlight. However, if you want to maximize your comfort, it is a great idea to take a close look at your care tags. Knowing what types of fabrics you’re wearing will significantly impact breathability and moisture wicking. Look for light clothing made of breathable fabrics like modal or rayon when considering what to wear in New York in August.

Comfortable Shoes:

Styles & How Many Pair to Pack

New York City has so much beauty to take in on the streets, from architecture to views of the river and more. Inevitably, walking is the best way to see the city, so plan on packing a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes.

I know the impulse can be to buy a bunch of new comfortable shoes before your trip, but I am here to tell you this may not be a good idea. New shoes often mean blisters and new wear patterns that your feet aren’t used to yet. It’s not the shoes’ fault, necessarily. They just need to be broken in first.

Secondly, the city can be dirty and known for semi-frequent afternoon rainstorms. So, the last thing you want is to trash a brand-new pair of shoes or two before they’ve had their proper time in the sun.

Instead, opt for your well-worn, comfortable walking shoes and throw a cute pair in your bag for when you arrive at dinner, a show, or another notable destination on your itinerary.

How many pairs of shoes you choose to bring will vary depending on how long you will be staying and if you’re checking any luggage. At a minimum, I recommend packing three pairs of shoes to coordinate with what to wear in New York in August. Two walking friendly and one nicer pair.

Shoe Packing List

  • Comfortable Sneakers
  • Flats
  • Sandals
  • Dress Shoes

August in New York Five-Day Packing List

  • 3-4 short sleeves/tank tops
  • 2 shorts
  • 1 skirt/skort
  • 1 sundress
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • Undergarments
  • Pj’s
  • Airport fit

Accessory Ideas for Stylish Looks

  • Headbands
  • Scrunchies
  • Claw clips
  • Hair scarf/bandana

Notice a trend here? Getting your hair up off your neck on warm days is another great way to keep cool.

  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella/rain jacket
  • Hat (baseball/sunhat)
  • collapsible water bottle

What to Wear in New York in August Based on The Best Things to Do

Broadway Show

Your attire for a Broadway show may vary greatly depending on the type of show and time of day. Matinees are typically more casual, but people dress in all sorts of ways. Some are more casual, while others are more dressed up. As I said before, it’s really up to you and what you’ve been doing that day. My go-to favorites are a longer high-waisted skirt with a sleeveless blouse or sundress. I also recommend bringing a light sweater, as the theaters can sometimes get a little chilly.
Midi skirt | Blouse | Sandals

Times Square

I’m taking a wild guess here, but if you’re in the Times Square area, there is a good chance you’re doing some shopping or going to make a quick hop over to Central Park. Wearing something comfortable and casual on this day is a good choice. Times Square is known as one of the most crowded areas filled with New York tourists and is often a prime place for pickpockets. 

Be aware of your surroundings and where your valuables are at all times, and consider leaving your more flashy jewelry at home.
Denim Shorts | T-shirt | Baseball cap | Sneakers

American Museum of Natural History

Museums are always meticulously climate-controlled, making them great days to plan a more layered look. Sticking with lightweight fabrics, like loose linen trousers with a simple tank top or t-shirt.
Linen trousers | Tank Top | Sandals

Statue of Liberty

It is best seen from aboard one of the ferries. The Statue of Liberty is a quintessential icon of New York City.

When picking out your look for the day you visit the statue, think more practical than fashion-forward. If you plan to actually climb the 162 steps to the top of her crown, you will want comfortable shoes for sure.

Taking the ferry is one of your best bets for a cool breeze, so you may not want to wear a hat. Opt for quality sunscreen and sunglasses instead.
Skort | Tank Top | Flats

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Another wonderfully climate-controlled environment to spend the day exploring many wonders of the art world.

Coney Island

City and the beach, what could be better? If you’ve taken in all the arts, culture, and cuisine you can handle, head over to Coney Island and enjoy one of the many public beaches available. When hitting the beach, it is always a good idea to bring plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe a wide-brim hat, too.
Bathing Suit | Coverup | Sandals | Sunglasses | Hat

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Notable New York Events During August?

As summer is winding down, outdoor concerts, free and with paid admission, are still in full swing all over the city. Though there is likely not to be a dress code for most of these events, other notable New York highlights likely will. Every year spanning more of a month than just a week, foodies from all over descend upon the city to take in all the culinary world has to offer. I’m talking about Restaurant Week!

From notable casual eateries to Michelin-rated dining, there is something for everyone to enjoy during the Restaurant Week event. However, make sure to look ahead when making reservations, as things book up quickly, and many high-end restaurants will require following a dress code.

Want to dress more like a Native New Yorker than a Tourist?

A few things I noticed on my trips to NYC is that black clothing is the predominant choice for New Yorkers. However, darker colors are not ideal for summer. When in doubt, dark is most versatile and likely to blend in. But what makes true New York fashion different isn’t just dressing in darker colors. It’s about crafting a tailored, just-for-you style when considering what to wear in New York in August.

In New York, looking expensive is not always about flashing brands but rather finding the perfect fit. Style is about balance, simplicity, and a pop. Balancing high-end, well-made garments with more affordable trendy items and adopting a less is more attitude. The pop can come from a statement accessory or bold color incorporated into your look.

New York couldn’t be the city that never sleeps without residents who can go all day. By choosing to stick with darker colors and well-tailored garments, New Yorkers can effortlessly transition from work to happy hour, late-night fun, and many other activities without skipping a beat. For more insights from a local New Yorker, I recommend checking out this summer-style post here.

Closing Notes on What to Wear in New York In August

She went off to have an unforgettable time in New York City despite the summer heat. Did this article change how you thought about your packing list for your summer trip? Are you feeling motivated to finally get your bags packed now that you know exactly what to wear in New York in August? No matter what time of year you plan to travel, there is always a good time to be had in the Big Apple. Now you know exactly what to wear in New York in August to have the best time.

If you’re curious how packing varies for each time of the year, check out this article by New York Travel Expert Sara from Funky Experiences. My favorite tip is using Rent the Runway for special seasonal items like winter parkas if you’re visiting from a warm location. These and many other tips can be found here.

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Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.