What to Wear in USA: Packing Tips

Are you thinking of traveling to the US after COVID-19 restrictions ease off? Aside from New York and Los Angeles, people new to the country often make the mistake of thinking American men aren’t too concerned about the way they look and are even less concerned about putting in an effort. Of course, because you’re probably thinking along the lines of street fashion in fashion meccas like Paris, Milan, or even London.

The fact is, American men actually put a lot of effort into their appearance, and that has only increased over the past decade. Sure, you'll probably not see every guy on the street sporting the finest Italian designer suit. But there's still a carefully studied appeal to American-made clothing that remains constant across most states.

And that appeal is usually a rugged but fashionable look across the country, blending form and function in a uniquely American way. Over the years, as cultural diversity in the US increased, more fashion opportunities for men emerged than the standard blue jeans and plaid shirt stereotype. If you're thinking about an extended trip to the USA, then you need to read this blog before you start packing.

A trip to the United States is always fun, especially if it's your first time. America is one of the largest countries in the world, with a lot of geographical, cultural, and political diversity. With so many Americans of diverse ethnicities and unique cultures, as well as an increasingly growing need to look good thanks to influencer culture, American men have learned to adapt to modern fashion.

Of course, being men, there's still as much focus on function as there is on the form. For a first-time visitor, deciphering street fashion for men in America can be a bit difficult. This is why this handy, yet-to-fail list of fashion essentials for different cities is your new best friend. So, throw out that faded blue pair of baggy jeans and those ugly button-down shirts.

Men’s Fashion Essentials When Traveling the United StatesMen’s Fashion Essentials When Traveling the United States

Here's what you should really pack if you aim to dress to impress:

1. All-Business Navy Suit for Those New York Minutes

New York. The Big Apple. The world-famous skyline. Home to Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum, NYC, and some of the biggest names in corporate, legal, and IT circles. That's not to mention the diversity in one of the largest urban populations in the world. So essentially, what you're looking at is a mix of ages, nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds, income groups, and fashion tastes.

The smorgasbord of streetwear will more likely confuse you than offer inspiration. Of course, most people will be dressed casually, so you can get by with a few pairs of well-fitting jeans and casual or semi-formal shirts. But if you're looking to walk through Manhattan looking like you've always belonged there, there is only one real foolproof option. The dark navy formal suit.

This is the ultimate game changer in a fast-paced city where nobody has time for someone they don't think measure up. A dark navy suit, tailored to your most recent measurements, fits you quite literally like a glove. Combined with a minimalist white dress shirt, some snappy cufflinks, a decent watch, and a shiny pair of wingtips, you're ready to take a big bite out of the Big Apple.

2. Funky Beachgoer for Days on Miami Beach

Miami, Florida is the place to be if the seaside and the sunshine are your deal. Miami is a big city, and at times, it can seem unforgiving. The street fashion scene is unlike many other places in the United States. Of course, people still attach a lot of value to how you look, so you can't think of getting by with your gym-bro shorts and a tank-top.

Unless you think you're living in the early 2000s. Ideally, if you have been working out on your body, and it’s reasonably toned, you should consider going shirtless to Miami Beach.

That means your choice of shorts needs to be on point, and this is where it's surprisingly versatile. You could potentially pull off anything from dragon-printed swimming trunks to baggier camo beach shorts, depending on your body type. The idea is to not show up wearing something that looks and fits obnoxiously. Remember you're there to have fun, not to walk around in something that doesn't look good and doesn't fit comfortably.

Also, if you don't have the most tanned and toned beach bod in the world, don't think you should stay away from the beach. You have just as much right to a bit of sea air and sunshine as anyone. Wear a pastel beach shirt with fun prints that fits you well and offers a "let's ride some jet skis" vibe.

Just be sure it goes with your trunks or shorts so you don't have to feel unnecessarily uncomfortable. Oh, and be sure to pack a stylish pair of sunglasses and some SPF sunscreen. The naked sun can be brutal.

3. Casual Athlete for a Sunset Boulevard Photo walk

Athleisure is making a bang in a big way across the United States. Combining the comfort of loungewear with the look of casual streetwear, athleisure is a fairly recent fashion phenomenon that has quickly become popular, especially in the one-of-a-kind city we call Los Angeles. You can spot a large number of whos-whos on the street at any point of the day, and you'll notice a lot of them are partial to athleisure.

And it's not just for Instagram models or celebrities. Athleisure offers a comfy fit, while still accentuating your build and muscle tone. As a welcome side effect, if you've lost your gym gains over the pandemic as I have, athleisure can help you mitigate the fallout.

4. Fur-Lined Jacket for Those Club Nights In Chicago

Chicago just goes to show how some of the most fashionable cities in the United States are often overlooked. The most populated center in Illinois, Chicago is where fashion giants like Kanye West have their roots. And it's no accident that West's edgy fashion sense is so popular in his hometown. Chicago is an extremely busy city by day, full of banks and commercial enterprises, and small businesses.

But the nightlife is something else too, especially given the fairly large number of exclusive, upscale clubs in the city like the Spy bar. In case you don't already know, Chicago's clubs have always been a big deal in the music scene, with blues and house music being two very notable genres to emerge.

Of course, the words 'exclusive' and 'upscale' usually also imply getting into one is not exactly easy. A lot of people want in on the fun, especially on weekends. There can be long queues, waiting lists, and wary bouncers. A good fashion play is to dress up in a way that tells the bouncers and staff that you're not there to cause trouble, while still looking like a true clubgoer in the Windy City.

A fur-lined (or faux-fur, since there's no need to be cruel to animals) jacket paired with an edgy pair of men's khakis is exactly what you need. DO NOT neglect your choice of footwear. Most clubs don't allow open-toed men's shoes like sandals and slippers and with good reason. If you're trying to get into the Spy bar with a socks-and-sandals combo, it's going to be a long wait.

Kalyan Panja