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Commuter shoes are important | © Barney Bishop / Flickr
Commuter shoes are important | © Barney Bishop / Flickr

11 Fashion Lessons You Only Learn While Living in New York City

Picture of Cailey Rizzo
Updated: 11 April 2017

There is a reason that New York City is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world. It only takes one ride on the subway to realize that you’re dealing with a metropolis that consistently serves looks. Needless to say, a move to NYC can be one of the biggest catalysts for change in your wardrobe. Although you may have been content with just plain jeans and a t-shirt before you came to New York, just a few months in the Big Apple will elevate any look. And although not every person has fashion aspirations like Carrie Bradshaw (or the desire to wear a ball gown to walk down the street), these are the 11 style rules you learn while living in the city.

Always bring a change of shoes

This lesson is probably the first one you learn when your office shoes are uncomfortable. There’s no way you’re walking to the subway, taking the subway, walking to work, working all day, then walking to happy hour, then going home ALL while your toes are pinched in fancy shoes. Nope. You quickly learn the virtues of the “commuter shoe,” and you don’t care how it looks.

All black is a way of life

After a few months of living in New York, you may look down at your outfit one day and realize you’ve worn different variations of head-to-toe black for the past week. Don’t worry—the all-black look is practically a badge of honor and what separates the locals from the tourists.

But then again, it’s fun to be zany

New York City is a place that has always embraced artists and eccentrics. So if you want to wear a zany polka-dotted jacket with matching silk turban on the subway, go for it! Chances are you still won’t be the craziest dressed person on the block.

Manicures are not optional

Looking good is the New York way, from your hair down to your toes, and that definitely extends out to your fingertips. And with so many inexpensive manicure spots on practically every corner of the city, there is no excuse for having dirty fingernails.

Everybody looks better with a blow-out

There’s a reason why there’s a DryBar in practically every Manhattan neighborhood.

If you’re not carrying at least seven bags, you probably forgot something

Seeing a woman out and about with nothing but a clutch is an urban myth. Either she is a mythical creature sent from another planet, or she is less than two blocks from her apartment. You need a bag for work stuff, your everyday purse, your gym bag, your laptop bag, your bagged lunch, your shopping bag from what you picked up during the commute, etc.

Avoid subway grates while walking in heels

It only takes one pair of ruined shoes to remember this lesson for the rest of your life.

You DON’T go to the bodega in pajamas

Even when you’re sick and just stopping into the bodega for some soup and some medication, the bodega is an opportunity to serve looks. Your bodega guy is one of the people you will see most while you’re living in New York, and chances are that you do not want him knowing what your pajamas look like.

Sample sales are your best friends

Even if you get there early, there’s always a line. But about 90% of the time, it’s going to be worth it. Scooping up designer pieces from a warehouse somewhere for much, much less than what they actually cost is the epitome of New York.

Go to the club in sneakers 

If you’re going out dancing and want to keep going all night long, you’re going to need a steady pair of kicks, but not just any old pair of sneakers. If you’re really trying to hang with the cool kids, you’re going to need to bust out your Guccis, your Jeremy Scotts, your Yeezy Boosts, your Fenty Pumas, or your Raf Simons x Adidas.

Wear things more than once

Most New Yorkers don’t have laundry machines in their apartments, so needless to say, clothing gets a lot of love. Once you live in NYC, you’ll start wearing your favorite items of clothing over and over again in an attempt to keep your laundromat runs to a bare minimum. And hey, in a city of 8.5 million people, it’s anonymous enough that nobody will ever notice that you’ve been wearing the same pair of pants for a week.