What to pack for NYC

New York is a shoe problem — all cities are. To San Francisco, I dragged a 50-pound monster suitcase which Tyson kindly maneuvered on the subway.  “What’s in here?” he wanted to know. Freaking shoes.

Last week, I helped my friend Cindy pack two small suitcases for four weeks in Europe, so I figured I could get myself into one carry-on for a long weekend in New York. And I did, it too. I’m flying out with Marni this morning and headed to see my girl Shanna and autumn in New York. (Ella Fitzgerald is singing in my mind.)

My travel-light strategy is to choose a color palette of smart basics with major accessories. Here’s how I pack for the city:

1. Three pairs of shoes: Flat walking boots (these are my new loves), tennis shoes that you aren’t embarrassed to wear in public, and one pair of heels that go with everything (see above). Wear the walking boots on the plane.

2. My well-loved map for my annual autumnal walk. (See the route here.) I’m wearing tennis shoes, black yoga pants, a Splendid tunic, and a trench coat. I mean business and major blocks.

3. Two handbags: pack one shoulder bag/tote that is large enough to hold everything you need on the plane — including your laptop or iPad. It will be your everyday bag in the city, too. Second, an evening bag. Below is my beloved Valentino — the bow serves as wristlet and makes it easy to carry and impossible to lose.

4. Layer-ready basics. Rick Steves’ rule is this: if you’re not going to wear it three times, it’s not invited. It also helps to pack lightweight layers in a color scheme: black, cream, leopard and gold. Cindy’s palette was black, gray, cream, and red. You’ll be ready for whatever weather, and your accessories can have the fun.

For five days, I’m bringing: one pair of jeans, two pairs of leggings, one day dress, one evening dress, and one dress that does both.

Also: three thin sweaters. Two T-shirts. Two blouses – one dressy, one casual. Yoga pants, a biker jacket, a lightweight trench coat, and a heavier dress coat.

I pack the three things that could wrinkle in dry-clean bags. It helps keep the wrinkles away — truly.

5. The coat is the most important thing. That’s all anyone ever sees, and it will be in all your photos. You’ll be happy with yourself if you have more than one to wear. I invested in this thin Burberry trench a few years ago. The price per wear is down to pennies at this point, and it’s one of my greatest-ever buys. This coat is similar, and hint: they go on sale. Mine was a steal.

Next, load up on accessories to make your T-shirts and leggings feel fun. I’m bringing:

6. One scarf: this Alexander McQueen scarf was a gift from a friend – apropos for Halloween weekend, right? I can wear it with my coat, use it as a blanket on the plane, or let it dress down a white blouse and thin black sweater. (This is my favorite.)

7. 1-2 statement necklaces: I bring pearls, because I never go anywhere without some iteration. This was a gift from the McQueen friend, as well. She loves me. It makes my day dress an evening dress, and can be a bracelet, too.

8. Small baubles – bring only your trademarks and favorites. This was a gift from Shanna. I adore.

9. I make my cosmetics fight one another for space. Some of my favorite workhorses: solid perfume – Stella by Tocca, Clinique’s Black Honey Almost Lipstick to wear every day, Bobbi Brown Shore eyeshadow (thank you, SarahsFabDay), Mac Primer + Powder, and a mini shine spray.

9. You’re allowed one thing that seems a little insane. I threw in a vintage fur collar. Watch me wear this three times. (Take that, Rick Steves.) It can give my dress coat new life or work for dinner at DBGB with jeans and a crewneck sweater.

10. A hostess gift. I believe in gift cards, and my hostess is moving.

11. My LIST. This was last year’s, plotted with Cindy on the plane. I’m a whirling dervish in this city — you’ve never seen a girl move so fast. I have no time for wardrobe fuss — there’s just too much to absorb.

Follow my New York adventures on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram: @JaimeeRoseStyle. I go every year to celebrate my birthday and walk through those golden leaves in the park – the best gift to myself.  Read about my favorite pumpkin donuts here, a destination shop here, adventures in bakeries and bridges here, and a dining guide here.

And please tell me — what can’t I miss in the city?

By |2012-10-24T05:35:44-07:00October 24th, 2012|Travel|3 Comments

New York Stories: I fell in love with the Meetles

I was walking in the Upper West Side along Central Park, dreaming about something — being an Upper West Side author like Nora Ephron, probably — and I walked past The Dakota — John Lennon’s famous apartment building, which also happens to be among the most beautiful apartment buildings in New York. (Designed by the architect of The Plaza hotel, no less.)

I wanted to see Strawberry Fields, so I crossed the street, went into the park and found The Meetles.

It was the afternoon of Oct. 31, and the air was full of flying leaves and bewitching moods. If you walked by too quickly, you’d think they were just another Beatles tribute band, like all the others hanging out around Strawberry Fields. (I wonder if they coordinate set lists with each other: “you playCan’t Buy Me Love and when we hear you stop, we’ll play Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”)

The Meetles weren’t McCartney and Lennon lookalikes like the others I saw that day, but rather a random assemblage of men who reminded me of my uncles. There was also a woman in an orange witch hat who was handing Halloween candy to kids who put cash in her guitar case. It seemed like anyone who wanted to come and sing or play was invited, and they didn’t care much for what you wore or if you had Lennon’s glasses.

There were eight or nine of them: a lead guitarist, a drummer, a keyboard player, various backup strings, and varied vocalists sitting on a couple benches singing with all their might. They were playing Imagine.

They sounded good enough, but what captured me was their collective joy that fluttered like leaves around the crowd. I kept my eye on a particular gray-haired man in the back row, wearing a hat and a green sweatshirt, whose whole soul was going into the song. He looked like a college professor who had escaped the Physics lab for a minute to commune with the universe and his friends. He rocked back and forth each time he got to these words:
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

I thought I could feel what he was thinking, and what all those men and women were doing. I walked away on crunching leaves glad for a world filled with dreamers  — who always recognize each other, and transcendent moments, and know.

Miraculously enough, someone recorded the very performance I saw: Through the glory of YouTube,here are The Meetles singing Imagine on Oct. 31, 2010 at Strawberry Fields, Central Park. My green sweatshirt guy isn’t visible, but you dreamers will still see.

By |2010-11-17T12:23:47-07:00November 17th, 2010|Travel|0 Comments

New York Stories: Volume One

“New York has existed for me simultaneously as a map to be learned and a place to aspire to — a city of things and a city of signs, the place I actually am and the place I would like to be even when I am here.” — Adam Gopnik, in Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York

When I am in New York, which I was for the past few days, I like to be standing on a streetcorner in the 7 p.m. bustle, when the city is dark and loud, and your hands are cold and someone is always pushing you while you wait to cross the street, and you look the other way to check the traffic and see something like this:

Just the Chrysler Building, peeking between the skyscrapers, towering over Grand Central Station, punctuating everything I believe about the transcendent experience of discovering New York.

When you’re in New York, it’s important to look up.


I was walking out of Eataly, eating an amaretti cookie and thinking about pasta, and there was the Empire State, pointing my eye toward a blue October sky.


I was walking on the Upper West Side, pretending to be Nora Ephron, and found a building as beautiful as I’ve ever seen. And you can live there. Really. It’s apartments.

I climbed up  a ladder at The Strand bookstore, where the shelves go up two stories and you have to hie to the skies,  Audrey Hepburn style, to reach for your words. Photo courtesy Marni.

On the top shelf at Payard, there was bread carved to look like a jack-o-lantern. In a store window, below, England and taxidermy and plaid turned wild and wonderful.

I spent an afternoon walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with Marni, Michael and Shanna —  looking up, and back, and down —  and trying to recite Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself: “Have you reckon’d the earth much?” (I wish I’d remembered that part.)

(Above: Michael and Shanna. Below: the bridge underfoot. I loved thinking about footsteps and history and DNA.)

I walked up Fifth Avenue along the park to the Guggenheim, my mind wandering around Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed it, and Arizona, where he lived, and his family, who I interviewed, and the small in the large.

(Inside the Guggenheim, looking up.)

On this day, and on this sidewalk, there were two paths: a leaf-free zone and another walkway where all the leaves had ended up. I walked there, listening to the rustle and crunch of autumn. In New York, it’s also important to look down.

You can see history there. (Brooklyn, your cobblestones are showing.)

In Union Square, pumpkins and taxi cabs.

Looking up at Chelsea Market, I saw the most beautiful clock:

Beneath it, there were more pumpkins. They were everywhere. I was in heaven.

There’s the whole world — the melting pot that is this city — on the bottom shelf of a bodega newsstand.

At Mood Fabrics (of Project Runway fame), there was a glorious pintucked dress.

And it’s important to look closer, because those pintucks and pleats and gathers were made entirely with pins.

In Central Park, I looked for the large . . .

. . . and the small: a placard on a park bench.

And mostly, in New York, I just looked happy.

“Do New York!” Henry James wrote to Edith Wharton (another glorious tidbit from Gopnik’s NYC tome.) And I did, or I tried, and I came home feeling like all the lights in the city were still sparkling in my mind. But New York is a transient place, and even when you’re right in the middle of it, it tortures you. I wanted to make it mine, to capture it somehow, with a camera, in a sentence, in a window on Fifth Avenue, in a shopping bag, on a plate at Babbo, in a frame at the museum, or find it distilled on a doorstep on 61st Street where there were pumpkins mixing with leaves.


And I couldn’t quite get it all — which is what I think I love about New York. It’s there, waiting, with more.

(And this week, I’ll show you the rest of my discoveries.)

By |2010-11-03T12:31:41-07:00November 3rd, 2010|Travel|1 Comment


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