How to Dress for Summer in New England
If you're traveling to New England this summer, I'm here to tell advise you on how and what to pack. It won't be terribly light. Our weather can be wildly erratic. In fact just last week we battled temperatures in the 90s with wretched humidity one day and the very next was misty and overcast as temperatures dipped into the mid 60s. If you're driving up north, you'll have more room and plenty of opportunity to pack heavier parkas, umbrellas and along with your wellies, bathing suits and sunscreen. If you're flying, packing gets more challenging with all sorts of FAA luggage rules and regulation which will no doubt resort in overages. Don't think you can get away with packing a few lightweight things into your carry-on.
So how does one dress when mornings and nights get chilly and midday can be a scorcher? In layers! Now, you may arrive during a particularly cool week, or during an unbearable heatwave, neither of which have been predicted. Sometimes I think Mother Nature is in the midst of a terrible bout of menopause!
For those of you who've travelled to Europe, specifically Spain, Italy and France, you'll notice they dress similarly, although tidier, and chic-er. We're more collegiate, though you'll see many similarities.
- Stripes, particularly blue and white, and horizontal are popular among New Englanders. Their versatility allows them to be worn and re-worn with a variety of outfits, colors and style. Boat neck tops (as seen in J.Crew, LLBean and Land's End) are popular choices, especially in coastal areas. New England Girls love stripes!
- Anchors Aweigh! Anything nautical is favored among New Englanders, especially young, coastal New Englanders. Some of these styles, I do believe have an expiration date. There's something about New England dress that's eternally youthful that somehow makes it acceptable for middle aged people to dress like their 20-something counterparts. Personally, I think I have expired past anchors and other motifs, but others might not feel as I do. Be careful though, "cutesy" isn't cute once you hit middle age.
- Gingham - Checks are big in New England wardrobe, particularly blue and white. In fact, if you stick to mostly blue and whites with other bold colors for accent and complimentary pieces, you'll have much more versatility with your items. For example the top in the image above may be worn with both denim and white jeans, shorts, and skirt. Depending on what accessories are worn with it, it can be dressed up or down. This is particularly important in packing for a New England vacation. You'll find that New England as a whole is pretty casual, but certain ports of call can get dressier than others - especially in the evening, particularly in Newport, certain areas in Boston, and Nantucket.
- Accessories that can be worn with multiple outfits will do you well when traveling to the New England states. Flat shoes and sandals that are comfortable for walking on worn brick and cobblestones are a must. It is not advised to wear heels, unless you're dressing up for a formal event or headed out to dinner. The uneven and worn New England streets can be very rough on shoes. A straw hat not only looks chic but helps to keep the sun's rays off of your face. A generously sized tote is great for your sunglasses, sunscreen, camera and small items you might want to pick up at local boutiques and gift shops, as well as the cardigan or light jacket. which will likely come on and off at various times throughout the day.
- The Sundress is perhaps the most versatile item of all and can be worn in a myriad of settings and weather conditions. On a warm day it can be paired with a pair of flats, sandals, or little white sneakers to stroll along the coast or quaint and charming villages. Dress it up with heels and jewelry in the evening or for an event or toss a jacket or cardigan over it and slip into some rain boots when weather necessitates.
- Cardigans and Wellies play a vital role in the New England dress code. If you're flying up north, however I'd suggest you save the room for souvenirs and leave the boots behind. A cute pair of sneakers, like the Adidas Stan Smiths will be just fine if you don't plan to splash in puddles. While torrential downpours that seemingly come out of nowhere are a fairly common occurrence, you'll likely be able to find a little store-front shop or eatery to duck into. A cardigan is an absolute must for all travelers. Bring a couple as they don't take up too much space and are quite versatile.
- Wedges and sleeveless tops are two more items that allow for wardrobe flexibility. Wear the wedges while traveling, they're easy to slip in and out of in airports, and you'll need not worry about them taking up space in your suitcase. If you do want to walk around with a heel these will hold up better on cobblestone, stones and brick. But do note that for those days of serious walking you really should stick with a flat. A sleeveless top as pictured above transitions from day to night, from casual to dress.
- June and late August can get cool in parts of the New England states, and isn't unheard of in July. A lightweight jacket might be a wise addition to your suitcase. Leave the Barbour at home - you'll needn't anything that heavy, but a waterproof windbreaker under which you can wear a sweater or two should be a must. Windbreakers take up no room whatsoever in a suitcase and can be rolled or folded into practically nothing.
- Shorts and a sweater are quintessential summer attire. As the heat of the day wears on the sweater can come off to reveal a pretty sleeveless top or simple tank beneath. Note the ballet flats on the cobblestones above and the straw hat.
- Pearls are never inappropriate and go with every and any outfit!
Your Summer in New England packing Llist
Amounts will vary depending on length of stay
This is based on a 3-5 day trip:
Pack items that you can can easily mix and match
- 2+ Bathing-suits
- Beach towel if you're traveling somewhere where they aren't provided
- Bug repellant (We have tons of bugs up this way including biting flies and mosquitos)
- Sun glasses
- Straw (sun) hat - Optional
- Beach cover up - Note that off shore breezes can often create a chill and ocean will likely be cold
- 1 pair ballet flats or loafers
- 1 pair flat sandals
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 pair of heels or wedges, worn during travel
- Wellies, optional
- Lightweight umbrella
- Lightweight jacket or windbreaker
- 2 cardigans in classic colors
- 1-2 heavier pull-overs
- 1 pair white jeans
- 1 pair denim jeans
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 2+ sundresses
- Pashmina or cashmere poncho/shawl, optional, to be worn with any of the above
- 3 short sleeve shirts/blouses
- 2 long sleeve shirts/blouses
- 1 large tote
Hey fellow New Englanders, have I left anything out? What would you add to the list?