Last year when Hubby and I were planning our trip to France, I stressed over what to pack. What to wear in Paris? How to be chic, or at least pulled together, and yet comfortable? I read way too many articles on how to dress “like a Parisian.” And then I fussed, and fumed, and shopped. And then I decided to stop sweating it and keep it simple. Good jeans. Good tees. A good jacket. A raincoat. Comfortable, but not ugly, shoes for walking. One pair of dressier shoes. And a scarf. I’d dress like me, a middle-aged Canadian women, visiting Paris. C’est tout. Turns out that’s how women in Paris dress anyway. 

So a few weeks ago when I began to plan my outfits to take to New York, I thought it would be a doddle. Fall, cool, but not cold = jeans, a coat sweater, long sleeved tees, a jacket. You know. Paris but a bit cooler… and by cool I mean temperature. I kept thinking about a line I read on the blog Une Femme d’un Certain Age. Sue said that the measure of an outfit for her is the question: “Would I wear this in Paris?” I loved that. And as I was trying on outfits that I actually had worn in Paris, I kept thinking “Well, if it was good enough to wear in Paris…” And so I planned and pre-packed happily. Until I read the New York weather forecast, and although it was wonderfully fall-ish in Ottawa, New York would be back in summer temperatures by the time we arrived. As hot as 28° Celsius. Crap. 


Times Square during the October heat wave October 2016.
Sleeveless in NYC. Elizabeth’s shot of Times Square our first day in New York. 

Back to the drawing board. And back to the closet for me. I spent an afternoon trying on possible outfits. Making sure everything went with everything else. Trying desperately NOT to have to dig out my really summery clothes. Here’s what I came up with. On the left… what I packed. Two blouses, two long-sleeved striped tees, my light summer Helmut Lang blazer. Cropped jeans, my new khaki jeans, my Veronica Beard navy cropped pants. Loafers. And my raincoat, not shown. I threw in a black, light weight, v-neck sweater at the last minute. On the right… what I wore on the plane. Veronica Beard navy jacket with a white tee underneath, high rise skinny jeans, sneakers. I had my navy scarf handy because my neck always gets cold on planes. 


what I packed, and what I wore on the plane to New York.
For day. I wore the blue Equipment shirt, my light cropped Veronica Beard pants, and my sneakers on the hottest day when we walked in midtown. The next day, also hot, I wore my ALC striped tee, and my Citizens of Humanity jeans, and sneakers. I wore this all over Paris, so figured it was good for walking all over downtown New York, Greenwich Village, Soho. And it was. The next day was a bit cooler, so I opted for my jeans and my Veronica Beard jacket with a light tee underneath. This looks warmer than it is because the hoodie is not a hoodie, just that narrow front part and a hood which zips out. I was glad that I brought an extra tee because, after two long sweaty days of walking, both the blouse and the striped tee were a little worse for wear.
Blue shirt by Equipment, navy Veronica Beard cropped pants. Stan Smith Adidas, bag by Holt Renfrew  ALC striped tee, Citizens of Humanity jeans, Stan Smith Adidas, bag by Holt Renfrew   Veronica Beard jacket, Theory tee, Citizens of Humanity jeans, Stan Smith Adidas
For evening. On our first evening, I wore my white Massimo Dutti blouse and navy Veronica Beard pants with my Stuart Weitzman loafers. The Korean restaurant where we ate that night was quite hot… and very loud. Elizabeth and I were both glad that I asked if we could move tables… against a wall (quieter than in the middle of the floor) and right in front of the door (ah… those breezes.)
Massimo Dutti white shirt, Veronica Beard cropped pants, Stuart Weitzman loafers, bag by Holt Renfrew
On another evening I wore the Veronica Beard pants again, with the matching jacket, minus the hoodie insert, and this striped Alexander Wang tee. Mostly the jacket resided on the back of my chair… but I hate to be without a “completer piece.” Thanks to Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear for the term.     
 Veronica Beard jacket and cropped pants, Alexander Wang tee, Stuart Weitzman loafer
I wore this outfit to dinner one night and to the theatre on our last night. My new khaki Massimo Dutti jeans, the black Helmut Lang jacket and, ironically, the black v-neck sweater that I threw in at the last minute. And my loafers, of course. These shoes have been real work horses in my closet. As you can probably tell by the number of times they appear on the blog. 
     Helmut Lang jacket, Banana Republic sweater, Massimo Dutti jeans, Stuart Weitzman loafers, Holt Renfrew bag
I took my light raincoat on the last night because rain had been forecast. But thankfully it held off until we arrived back at the hotel. And the mist in the air made for a great shot of the Empire State building… or half of it anyway.
New York City at night, Empire State Building half hidden in the mist
Elizabeth’s shot of the Empire State Building as we made our way back to our hotel. 

I did absolutely no fashion research before my trip to New York. Besides looking at the weather forecast. So this morning, for fun, I Googled “how to dress like a New Yorker.” Ha. So glad I did not read any of these articles before I left. Not that I would have paid any attention anyway. I mean, I learned my lesson with Paris. But according to these writers all New Yorkers wear black, black and more black. Sky high heels. Lots of leather. And really, really cuttingly edgy everything. Really? Of course it was way too hot for leather. But I don’t think I saw a single woman in high heels as we tramped all over New York. Black ballet flats, however, were simply everywhere. Lots of ankle boots, some with bare legs. And dresses. Lots of really lovely day dresses. Of course many of the people we would have seen on the streets were just like us… visitors. Still, in Greenwich Village and Soho, you’d think we’d have seen at last a few of these edgier than edgy people. Ah well, I’m sure they’re there somewhere.

I apologize if you were looking for something a bit more interesting in this post. But as I’ve said before on the blog, I gotta be me. And edgy I ain’t. Or wildly creative like some bloggers my age. Just me. Not trying to dress like a New Yorker. Just trying to dress like me… a Canadian visiting New York. Trying to be polished and pulled together, and comfortable at the same time. Trying to look current, and NOT have to pack a giant suitcase for a four day trip. By the way Elizabeth and I both travelled with carry-on only. My first time doing that. Worked out fine. I even had room to pack a couple of new purchases. And despite my companion’s prediction on our last shopping day… “You are so going to be checking your bag on the way home”… crammed it was, but definitely NOT checked. Oh, ye of little faith. 
By the way. This is one of my new purchases. A wool sweater from Prada… in a lovely green that goes perfectly with my khaki jeans from Massimo Dutti. Love this sweater, and the coat I bought. But I haven’t had time to play around with them yet, to see what goes with what. Stay tuned. Post coming soon.     


Prada sweater, Massimo Dutti jeans, Stuart Weitzman loafers.
How about you folks? Do you try to change your style when you travel? Are you influenced by those articles on how to dress like… whatever? Anything else you want to get off your chest? Like Kelsey Grammar used to say on Frasier, one of my all time favourite shows: “Go ahead. I’m listening.”



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48 thoughts on “How to Dress Like a Canadian Visiting New York”

  1. Smart you! Heat makes it so much trickier to pack because a) harder to layer to change things up and b) sweat. But it looks like you did great. You know, I think style has become pretty globalized these days. Yes, each region might put its on spin on something, but it's hard to go wrong with what most of us think of as "smart casual." And that sweater is gorgeous!! Brava!

  2. You said you were trying to look "polished and pulled together," while being yourself and current. I'd say you hit it out of the park, Sue. Also, I love that you really seem to use all your clothing and shop so judiciously. –Catbird Farm

  3. NOOOOOO! I just wrote a long comment thinking through something I've noticed about your style and then somehow I clicked something other than "Publish" and watched the screen disappear.
    Anyway, to try to remember what I said. Something like: a Canadian as well-dressed as you could go anywhere, Paris and New York, yes, but anywhere she wants to without working about what to pack.
    And then I started trying to articulate what it is about your style that is polished and fun and elegant, and that never shrieks budget, never invites resentment, despite having some heavy-hitters in it, price-points-wise. That is, when I travel, I want my clothes to be able to walk anywhere I want to go without worrying if something looks too dressy or too, well, expensive. And I don't own many clothes that are particularly expensive. A Vince dress that was $400, some cashmere sweaters about the same, a pair of boots at $600, a bag at almost $500 — that's tops for me. And even at that, for many/most of the people I hang out with, people in my class, that's extravagant. So I don't really want it to show, except that I want it to show enough as part of a working ensemble, if that makes sense. You wear brands that are in the next rung up from where I've ever felt comfortable going, but you wear them in a thoughtful way that conveys a credible and sustained enjoyment of them with respect for the environment and for the feelings of those around you. I'm not sure that you ever feel the latter as a constraint consciously (perhaps there's something inherently Canadian about it) — and I'm beginning to wish I hadn't put way too much time into trying to reconstitute the long comment that was already barely achieving coherence first time 'round. Descending into babble here, but aiming at grasping something. . . Basically, perhaps I'm just echoing what Catbird Farm says above, so much more succinctly! 😉
    Bottom line? You look great in every one of those pics!

    1. Thanks, Frances. I do love your "babble.' I love it that smart, well read, accomplished women talk about clothes and their "philosophy" of dressing. That is so cool to me, and such a revelation. I languished in the wilderness for years thinking I was the only one who thought so much about what I wore. And didn't dare express my thoughts over why this top and not that one for fear of eyes glazing over, or rolling in despair at my shallowness. Now thanks to your blog and Sue's and others and people who read my blog…I've come in from the cold…so to speak. Isn't the internet wonderful!

  4. Your selection was perfect. Impressed that you managed carry on on the way back but on reflection it fits with your planned approach to shopping and quality purchases. Your Veronica Beard jacket is very versatile, great purchase. Enjoyed your previous post too. Length of your trip sounded ideal. New York is so full on but wonderful. Iris

    1. New York IS full on…good way to put it, Iris. Especially for this transplanted New Brunswicker. I did plan to leave an inch or two in the top of my carry-on bag to allow for possible purchases. And the coat I bought definitely filled it!

    1. Thanks, Oh…. that old thing? Ha. Seriously, it is old. Pre-1999 for sure. It's a Holt Renfrew brand leather bag. I seem to keep digging it out for travel. It's still in perfect shape, and it's big enough to carry my i-pad, tickets, passports etc. And yet still looks neat and presentable. And even kind of cool, this year.

  5. What a great article. I always used to stress what to pack and would browse Pintrest for hours looking at " What to Pack". However when my son and daughter-in-law moved to New York to live and work for 3 years it occurred to me that they wore just the same clothes as the wore in London and Sydney. Coming from London I know what to wear in a city! So now I just pack the same items just dependant on the time of year and weather.
    However I always take something "special" just for the hell of it and the chance to go somewhere Iconic in the evening. Sometimes Jeans are not allowed and I love dressing up.
    So if you come to London just pack the same as you did for Paris and New York and enjoy

    1. Travel, especially to big cities around the world still feels new to me. Until I was in my late forties our travel was either ski vacations or camping or cottaging. So, I've come late to the game of packing for a variety of experiences when travelling. My first was a three month trip to Australia and New Zealand in 2003. I've come a long way since then. I will take your advice into consideration. I am in the process of trying to convince my friend Elizabeth that we should do London, Oxford, Bath etc. My husband is not really interested… so all the more fun to go with a like-minded girl friend.

  6. This is the look I aim for – but don't always succeed. Chic but not overpowering , feminine but not girly , thoughtful but not fussy . I don't want strangers to notice me at first glance but a second glance is nice ! Yes , shallow I know . Mater's comment is very interesting . I've realised I subconsciously dress down in certain situations & with certain people . Good manners or patronising ? Clothes can be armour when our confidence is shaky but can intimidate in a bad way too , so manners come into it . I rarely spend in the same price range as you , barring bags & winter coats , but have learnt to recognise quality fabrics & cuts . I was shopping with my adult niece recently & made her feel the expensive clothes & read the fabric composition labels so she can qauge the quality in cheaper ranges . She probably thinks I'm a very bossy aunty but these things are important 🙂
    Wendy in York

    1. I know what you mean. I might wear certain things in certain company or certain places. Dressing down to avoid offending or looking like one is "getting above themselves." And as far as work goes… I'm so casual now, I've almost forgotten what it was like trying to strike the right note of trendy + "I mean business" which I used to do when attending conferences or meetings. I loved that, and kind of miss it. What a good idea to teach your niece about quality. Careful…you may put her right off Zara.

  7. I think your streamlined style is classic and could go anywhere. Now that I've said that, it seems that I used to worry about dressing for the place I was going, and now I just dress for myself. I pretty much look the same everywhere and it is terribly liberating.

  8. Your outfits were very nice. I like the classic but fresh look of them. I wish you had used some accessories such as a nice pin in the lapel or statement bracelet, something of interest. No one will remember you just dressing nice. Even a crazy cool mustard leather handbag would have made this special.

    1. I know what you mean. At home I would have changed up the bag or done something more with jewellry. I did wear bracelets (two vintage and one Anne Marie Changnon) but they didn't show well in the photos.

  9. Sue, I love all these looks. Your clothes are stylish and high quality, but they don't wear you and don't scream, "look at me!" I think that the understated effect of style without pretension is very Canadian. As an expat, I love it. I read several style blogs for, ahem, mature women, and yours is my favorite.

  10. Excellent choice-I like all your NY outfits!
    When I make my travel list,questions are: weather conditions,temperature,activities. Than I decide what to take but there are always the same pieces I wear here. Sometimes,if there is a pouring rain or snow,I take second best things(I learned it the hard way-one leather jacket- San Gimignano,Tuscany,one beautiful trenchcoat-aren't they supposed for rain ?-,London,moccasins,Paris-)
    I always take something like silk trousers or skirt,or LBD for fancy dinners or concert (it was fine even for Mozart Festival in Salzburg)
    I resonate with Frances and Wendy in York and tend to dress down,consciously or subconsciously, in some situations but am not sure is it actually good or not! But completely understand the feeling!

    1. You are so wise, Dottoressa. I rarely travel with my best things. Unless I've purchased them for that purpose like my Helmut Lang jacket. I had thought of bringing my blue Rag and Bone dress, but I knew that Elizabeth would be dressing much more casually than that. And I also didn't want to stain it in the heat. It needs to remain my "best dress" for a couple of more seasons, yet. I'm seeing you in silk trousers at a Mozart concert in Salzburg… and I'm impressed. I was there once in 1988…although not for Mozart..and not in silk trousers.

  11. Great post, Sue! As I said in my recent post about packing for our 17 day trip to Nova Scotia, the first questions I ask myself when packing for any trip are: Where am I going? What kind of weather will I likely encounter? and What is the purpose of my trip? Like you, I don't change my style when I travel. I am who I am wherever I go and I want to feel like me!

    1. Thanks, Elaine. I hope you brought a fisherman knit sweater and a raincoat to Nova Scotia? And that you got to Cape Breton to hear some fiddle music.

  12. You look great.

    Yes, I've spent too much time researching what clothing to take. About five years ago I convinced my husband it was no jeans in Europe. Everywhere we went, was jeans, jeans, and other casual wear.

    Curious. It looks like you don't wear socks.

    1. The internet makes it both easier and harder to predict what people are wearing in other countries. Easier because we have access to street style shots from all over… harder because so many of those street style shots are of models and fashion bloggers on the street as they enter an "event" and thus are dressed quite a bit over the top. In my humble opinion, anyway.
      I don't usually wear socks with cropped jeans or pants… except in my sneakers. While in New York I wore those little "sockettes" (or whatever they're called.) You can barely see them above the sneakers…and in the photos I didn't put them on. My Stuart Weitzman loafers have a suede lining and are sooo soft on my easily blistered feet. So I never wear socks in them… if I can help it.

  13. I really like your classic yet contemporary style. I think it works so well because the fit is so good – do you have most things altered?
    I really appreciate how you look like "you" when travelling. For some reason, I feel compelled to buy a lot of stuff for a trip, and most of it turns out to be a mistake.

    1. I do have some things altered. I have broad shoulders, and a "big back" (as my mother says about herself.. and me.) So the buttons on blouses often gape across the chest. If I buy a blouse at Nordstrom's they always put a snap between the buttons. I tried going up a size in the past, but then the blouse is big and the shape is wrong.

      Pants are often a hard fit for me because I have a flat butt….if that's not TMI. A few years ago I found a great seamstress to alter a leather skirt I owned and when I visited her with the skirt I was wearing a pant suit without the jacket. She grabbed the back of my pants and said in her gorgeous Greek accent…"You have a no bum. I can fix that." So I ended up taking her all my dress pants which were all baggy in the butt and it was a revelation to me that I could actually wear pants that fit my body. Who knew? Now, though, I usually don't buy anything that doesn't fit and I have a few brands which I gravitate to because they almost seemed designed for my body type. Theory, Elie Tahari…and now Veronica Beard. Having said that I was shopping with a friend the other day and the seamstress made a very nice skirt look fabulous on her. Well worth the extra few dollars if the item is already expensive.

  14. Aww I can so relate tot his post. I was in the NY in Sept for my first ever fashion week and I know it wouldn't be truly fall weather, but I didn't expect scorching hot! Anyway you look truly chic and pulled together. I want to hear move about your trip!! And by the way, you carry on only travelers totally amaze me. I can't even imagine!

    Thanks so much for linking up with Fun Fashion Friday!

    Dawn Lucy

    1. Thanks, Dawn Lucy. I have only travelled carry-on twice. On this trip.. and when I fly to my Mum's in New Brunswick. But I cheat on that one. My sister and I have a dressing gown, a couple of heavy sweat shirts, some tees and a pair of rubber boots in Mum's spare room that we both wear when we're home coz we're never there at the same time. So I don't have to pack anything for walking on the trail or for helping Mum around the yard. Bonus!

  15. Yes, have been distracted by research and have ended by packing someone else's recommendations. Only to discover within a day of arrival that, hey, we all wear the same things, the things I normally wear at home.
    What I will try to do going forward is to take note of what I've enjoyed wearing recently and unless the temperature is very different, pack that. I just hope I can hold myself to that next time and avoid too many last minute panic additions.

  16. Hi Sue! Perfect planning and packing. As you say, best to wear what you feel good and comfortable in. All your choices worked well and you looked great! I took carry on only, for the first time when we had four days in Stockholm in the Summer.It included two jackets and a knitted style linen poncho.As well as jeans white trousers and smart navy ones. ..tees and shirts. To be honest I thought it would have worked well for a week! I was really pleased with my choices!
    If I was Elizabeth I'd be keen to plan a trip to London,Bath and Oxford. Such great cities ..Some of my favourites. I'd be happy to tag along 🙂 I think Stu may be surprised. husband doesn't usually like city breaks but really enjoys Bath and Oxford. Also, once you're out of central London so many great areas that are more like small towns or "villages" eg Richmond on Thames,Putney,Kew. All along the river, bound to be some fishing somewhere!
    Hope you're having a good weekend. Hard to imagine frost and snow on your deck (instagram) 86 degrees on Amelia Island. Town wide power cut today…making the best if it,we found a restaurant with a generator and a terrace for brunch and mimosas! May need a nap this afternoon 🙂

    1. Now, now…let's not think of things to tempt Stu to want to come to England. Not when I have a lovely girls' trip planned in my head. And once I have Elizabeth on board (gad…hope she's not reading this:)) I'll get back to you. It would be fun if you could "tag along" as you say. Our very own expert! I'm now going to go look up where Amelia Island is. Sounds vaguely familiar…are you still on this side of the pond??

  17. I absolutely love the way you dress…no matter what city you're in. Always enjoy reading your blog too. Will look forward to outfits with your new sweater.

  18. Hi Susan,

    As someone who has lived in the NYC metro area for over 30 years, I would say you knocked it out of the park!! I would have automatically assumed you were a New Yorker! 🙂 It is hard this time of year when one minute it is cool and windy and the next positively balmy. I just discovered your blog but can't wait to read more about your adventures! Have a wonderful week!

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