Personal Style

    Overhaul Your Closet: What to Wear When You Move to New York City

    5th February 2013

    How do you revamp your wardrobe when you move to a city with an all-new climate?

    Relocating from the east coast to the west 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 what about the brave souls who leave the warm weather of the west coast for the winters of the east coast?

    Max Berlinger is one of those people. A contributing online style editor at Esquire, Max left La La Land for NYC a few years ago. 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:


    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 wouldn’t exist if I still lived back home in sunny SoCal:

    1. Boots

    {Red Wing, $280}

    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

    {Orvis, $180}

    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 suit

    {J.Crew Ludlow suit, $425}

    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 the J. Crew Men’s Shop, Club Monaco, and SuitSupply have all heeded the demand for quality tailoring at palatable prices.

    5. A quality pair of jeans

    {AG Jeans “Matchbox” style, $215}

    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. Grooming products

    {EvolutionMan Moisture Protect, $25}

    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. The App

    {, free at the App Store}

    I do a few things in the morning, including check my email, Twitter, Instagram, and my horoscope from AstrologyZone. But I always check my app before hitting the shower, which is when I start to plan my outfit for the day. Unlike the weather app that comes pre-downloaded on the iPhone, gives you an hour-by-hour analysis of the day, a 3-day forecast, and, most importantly, tells you 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, we’re not on speaking terms.

    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!

    Tell me:

    How has your wardrobe changed when you’ve moved? And what cities do you want to see next for an “Overhaul Your Closet” How-To?

    • average joe

      When I moved to Chicago from the Suburbs (just an innocent/ wet-behind-the-ears suburban boy), I only owned cargo khakis and cargo jeans – and I’d wear them with a polo (untucked) and sketchers. Then I started working in the restaurant/ entertainment industry in downtown Chicago, and learned the art of black clothes and “going out” shirts (the ones Megan once wrote about with the wild patterns and turn back contrast cuffs, invoking Cam’s wardrobe from Modern Family). Then I got married and moved south to the suburbs of Atlanta and brought my nightclub wardrobe with me. People thought I was nuts, they asked my wife if I spoke English, and I slowly dissolved into the sea of over-sized pleated khakis and golf shirts, all the while still hanging on to my shirts with contrast cuffs and sketchers. And then (cue heavenly music) I started reading style blogs a few years ago. First it was GQ, then howtotalktogirlsatparties, then ManoftheHouse, and then SG. Within a few months I threw out or gave away my entire closet, and started from scratch. Starting with dark brown lace ups, then a pair of tailored pants, and then a few slim fit shirts. I realized that there is no such thing as a “going out” shirt, and if you dress right, you can go from the office to after work drinks to your kids baseball game and look nice. I’ve heard it said before, “People should think you look nice, but won’t know why.”

      • Style Girlfriend

        They asked your wife if you spoke English?!?!? ahhahahahah that’s kind of amazing…

        • average joe

          Yeah, in my defense, being from the Midwest and all, and not really knowing anything about the South, I couldn’t understand them either. I would have to ask people to write things down because their accent was so thick. I’m used to it now, though.

          • Style Girlfriend

            No, I mean it. That’s like, the best thing I’ve heard all day. Amazing. :)

          • Chris Rogers

            This reminds me of when I was working on a project in North Carolina with a guy from California. Being from Mississippi I had to act as his translator until he got accustomed to the locals. (Luckily the area in MS I’m from doesn’t carry much of an accent or so I’ve been told while traveling.)

          • TJ

            I’ve never had a problem with understanding most people in the south. I’ve met very few people with a seriously thick accent.

      • ATLien

        Where do you live on the Southside ?

        • average joe

          I grew up in South Holland.

          • ATLien

            Sorry man, you misunderstood me. I was curious where you live on the Southside of Atlanta…. I grew up in Fayette County, though my parents don’t live there anymore (and a lot of my friend’s parents have moved).

    • TJ

      I’m actually moving to a warmer climate soon. I live in Alabama right now so it is nowhere near as cold as New York but definitely colder than Florida will be. Also, you want to talk humid, try living in the south in July for a week.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Nooooo thank you :)

        • TJ

          What’s worse is that the a/c in my car is broken and it is way to expensive to fix on such an old car. I am saving for a new one though, so hopefully i’ll only have 1 more summer of it.

      • Chris Rogers

        95-100 degrees with 95% humidity…such is life on the Gulf Coast of MS.

        • TJ

          I know that feel bro…

    • Natural Workwear

      Having started my professional life in Houston, it was a bit of a shock moving to the East Coast. One thing to note, though, is that there is a big difference (fashion-wise) between NYC and nearly anywhere else.

      For me, in Central New Jersey, we are a bit more sophisticated than rural, and the “trad” thing is quite strong around here.!/2013/01/know-your-place.html

      I don’t think that this would work very well in Manhattan, but it’s fine here.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I like it!

    • Matt M

      I loved moving from Chicagoland to Los Angeles. And while I have to wear a suit everyday for work, I enjoy my chinos, shorts, madras, and henleys in my off time. I do miss winter jackets, sweaters, and layers of winter, but really like bright colors and fun patterns of warm weather clothes. Will be disappointed when I have to move away from California some day.

    • Sterling

      If you move to Vancouver: throw out everything. Buy lululemon. Wear it everywhere. You now fit in with 80% of the city.

      • Style Girlfriend

        men and women both?! Not mad about it, just didn’t realize Lululemon had such a large guys’ following.

        • Sterling

          It’s not as prevalent with men when compared to women; however, it’s much more common for men in Vancouver than in other cities because the stores here have a larger men’s selection than other cities (lululemon is from Vancouver). I’ll even confess to having worn a lululemon casual shirt to a Christmas party…at a nice restaurant. That was a mistake. It won’t happen again.

          • Style Girlfriend

            See that it doesn’t.

    • TheGentlemanScholar

      When I moved to Chattanooga from Corpus Christi, both the boots and the beachwear fell into disuse. Cowboy boots suck in snow and ice. Hiking boots in bad weather and saddle oxfords in good.

      I wear sweaters and sport coats now. Tweed and navy during the winter and seersucker and navy during the summer. For some people here seersucker is a staple.

      I like your comment on style tribes. I love New York!

    • ashK

      Can we see the reverse? Moving from NYC to LA ??

    • Jeff

      WOW! perfect timing for me to find this article! Im just about looking to transfer to a school in New York, however not the city, so i guess i wont need all the suits, but it sure seems nice to dress classy